Ben Angwin

Research project: Repositioning The Omega Workshops: Modern Patrons and Modern Markets


My research avoids retelling the Omega Workshops' narrative. This is not a study that is primarily object-led. Instead, I investigate the Omega Workshops with broader scope and with renewed vision, and focus on its distinct cultural and operational contexts. I consider the strategies and agency of the Omega Workshops and investigate how it engaged within – and, at times, outside – highly organised professional systems and commercial frameworks, paying particular attention to its informal networks of patronage. I investigate the Omega Workshops as an active agent within metropolitan London and its rapidly developing marketplace for modernist painting, so-called ‘advanced' decorative aesthetics, and international commercial domains of modern fashion and interior decoration.

My thesis presents new and discourse-changing research on the Omega Workshops among its British and international contemporaries, on the Omega's problematic relationship with its female patrons, and its engagement with modern British theatre and its little-known ambitious transatlantic ventures.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Repositioning The Omega Workshops: Modern Patrons and Modern Markets
  • Research supervisor: Professor Penny Sparke


I recently contributed to research discussions with The Courtauld Gallery for its new displays on Bloomsbury art & design (2021). Previously I held positions Collections Researcher and Acting Assistant Curator (Tate Britain) where I worked on exhibitions and displays Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation (2014), Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World (2015), and Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919–39 (2015). Other previous roles have included Art History Specialist and Collections Researcher for Southwark Art Collection (2014–15). I have been involved in various curatorial projects, among them Mantelpiece Modernism: The Omega Workshops, Bloomsbury and Gordine, (Dorich House Museum, London, 2018; co-curated with David Herbert). Other roles include research assistant for book, Radical Art and the Formation of the Avant-Garde by David Cottington (Yale UP, 2022). I have experience of conducting peer reviews and assessing undergraduate historical and contextual studies modules for Interior Design (Kingston University). I welcome research and curatorial proposals.

Areas of research interest

  • British modernism
  • Modern interiors
  • Artist interiors
  • Early 20th Century British Popular Theatre
  • Avant Garde Theatre
  • Female Patronage
  • Anglo-American cultural exchanges
  • Modern painting and the decorative arts
  • Modern art and craft
  • Networks of modernism


  • MRes Art History, Kingston University, London (2012)
  • BA Hons Museum and Gallery Studies, Kingston University, London (2011)

Funding or awards received

  • Publication Grant: Association For Art History (2019)
  • The Art Society, Kingston (2018) [in collaboration with Dorich House Museum]
  • Research Travel Bursary: The Decorative Arts Society, UK (2017)
  • Research Travel Award: Modern Interiors Research Centre [MIRC] (2017)
  • KSA Faculty Research, Event and Conference Fund (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
  • KSA Faculty Funded PhD (2016–completion)
  • AHRC Funded Masters by Research (2011)


"The Omega Workshops and the modern artistic interior on the British stage, 1914–1918, with special reference to The Wynmartens (1914)", Interiors (2019), 10:1-2, pp. 7–38, DOI: 10.1080/20419112.2018.1670406

"Join the club: the Omega Workshops as a space for private bohemianism" in Post-Impressionist Living: The Omega Workshops (Charleston Press, No. 3), edited by Darren Clarke, September 2019, pp. 56–67.

co-editor with David Herbert, Mantelpiece Modernism: The Omega Workshops, Bloomsbury, and Gordine [exhibition catalogue] (independently published by Dorich House Museum, Kingston University, London 2018).

"From Ancient to Modern: The Omega Workshops' experiments in lustre, c.1914" [co-authored with David Herbert] in Mantelpiece Modernism (2018), pp. 12–23.

Conference papers

Invited speaker at The Courtauld's McQueens Illuminating Objects Annual Seminar (June 2021):