This joyful rainbow print for July is chosen to celebrate LGBTIQ+ Pride Month in Britain’s warm but usually wet summertime. It was created by one of London’s great printmaking innovators of the 20th century, Birgit Skiöld. Born in Stockholm, she made London her permanent home in 1948 at the age of 25. After ten years of studying different print techniques, she founded the city’s first open access print atelier in 1958 with a press acquired from Bloomsbury legend, Vanessa Bell.
Pop Art sensations David Hockney, Eduardo Paolozzi and Joe Tilson flocked to Skiöld’s simply named ‘Print Workshop’ at 28 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, to benefit from her deep expertise and passion for printing. She pioneered new innovations in Xerox printing, as well as experimenting with more traditional techniques like etching, blind embossing, and stone lithography.
Throughout the 1970s, she collaborated frequently with the poet and writer James Kirkup (1918 –2009). His poem ‘The Love that Dares to Speak Its Name’ was a bold exploration of queer sexuality imagining the fantasies of a Roman centurion who lusts after Jesus Christ. It was at the centre of a blasphemy trial in June 1976 when Mary Whitehouse sued Gay News over its publication.
Thanks to the generosity of the Birgit Skiöld Memorial Trust, the artist’s archive came to the V&A in 1997. You can explore more of her work on Explore the Collections or visit the Prints and Drawings Study Room.