Marianne Straub with Helios designs c.1949

About the Exhibition

Braintree Museum is excited to have opened a new exhibition in conjunction with the Warner Textile Archive on Saturday 22nd January until 2 July 2022. The exhibition explores the friendship and creativity of textile designer Marianne Straub and artist Denise Hoyle during the 1950s to 1970s, uniting their work for the first time.

Many elements brought Marianne and Denise together, including their shared European status; Marianne was from Switzerland and Denise from France. Enveloped in the creative atmosphere of Great Bardfield, the two women produced imaginative artworks and developed a strong friendship over many years.  This exhibition showcases the inventiveness of both artists working during the 1950s – 1970s and explores their friendship in rural Essex. Many of Marianne’s fabrics from the Warner Textile Archive collection at the Warner Textile Archive will feature alongside Denise Hoyle’s private collection of collages, watercolours and ceramics.

The exhibition has been made possible with the support of Denise and Nina Hoyle and the Emma Mason Gallery in Sussex. Denise still paints watercolours every day in her studio and some of these works will be available to purchase from The Museum Shop. We have also received generous donations from Felsted Arts Society and the Essex Lacemakers to support this exhibition.

About the Artists

In 1954, Denise Hoyle (née Columbo) visited an open-house exhibition hosted by the Bardfield Artists. Inspired by a watercolour by Walter Hoyle, at the end of the day she returned to see the painting one last time and was introduced to the artist. One year later Walter Hoyle and Denise were married and began their life together in Great Bardfield.  Marianne Straub joined the textile manufacturing firm, Warner & Sons, in 1950 as the driving force behind the industrial woven fabrics of the business. The company was based in Braintree and in 1953 Marianne moved to Great Bardfield, becoming friends with the artists and craftspeople in the village, including Walter Hoyle. When Denise moved to the village with Walter, Marianne struck up a firm friendship with Denise as well.

By the late 1950s Denise was a mother to two young children and in her spare time took to creating collages from magazines given to her by Marianne, as well as sweet wrappers and newspapers. Denise worked instinctively, playing around with pattern and shapes, firstly creating images of animals, followed by circus scenes and classic children’s stories. Denise’s artworks were made at her kitchen table while her children slept, this is juxtaposed with Marianne’s work for Warner & Sons where she designed fabrics for some of the most prestigious interiors worldwide, including ocean liners and embassy buildings.


Denise Hoyle at home in Hastings in 2021


“It is wonderful to have the story and creativity of Denise Hoyle and Marianne Straub on display together for the first time at Braintree Museum, bringing it back to North Essex where it was created.” Emma Mason, Emma Mason Gallery

“Marianne Straub was an important textile designer from the twentieth century and her fabrics are a key part of the collections within the Warner Textile Archive. It is a great opportunity to see a large display of her work together.” Sophie Jemma, Archivist, Warner Textile Archive

About Braintree Museum and the Warner Textile Archive

Braintree Museum conserves and celebrates the history of Braintree and its surrounding areas, focusing on the District’s industrial and cultural achievements and its many notable personalities. The Museum is part of Braintree District Museum Trust who are a charitable company that own the Warner Textile Archive. The vision of the Trust is to preserve, promote and interpret the history of Braintree District and restore the Warner Textile Archive as an international design and manufacturing resource. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

The Art of Friendship is showing at Braintree Museum 22nd January 2022 – 2nd July 2022.