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Inside 'Toile Tales' Exhibition

Timorous Beasties are exhibiting new work, celebrating 20 years since the studio’s first toile design, at Musée de la Toile de Jouy, Paris. 

Timorous Beasties have always been enchanted by the story-telling power of the toiles de Jouy. However, the toile served Timorous Beasties themselves as a medium to subvert the decorative arts. Their first toile – the Glasgow Toile (above), printed in 2004 – is a raw portrayal of their home city, in which they exchange the arcadian wonder of traditional toiles for some of Glasgow’s grit and gutter, and displace beaux objets for the déplaisant. Following the Glasgow toile, Timorous Beasties explored how the world around us might be framed in a toile design genre, embracing different cities, wide-ranging occasions and subjects.

'The Fugol Bird' and 'The Apprentice' from Toile Tales (Toiles by Timorous Beasties, Tales by Steven Dp Richardson)

To complement this 2024 retrospective exhibition, Timorous Beasties are introducing a new collection of Toile Tales. Inspired by some of the earliest Oberkampf toile patterns depicting Fontaine’s fables, they have developed an oblique divergence whereby toile has come to represent a unique form of story-telling.

In order to develop a new perspective in narrative, Timorous Beasties subverted the conventional relationship and process of illustrating text by tasking writer, Steven Dp Richardson, to textually illustrate twenty Timorous Beasties toiles – representing twenty years since the Glasgow Toile. Eight of these Toile Tales will be on display at the exhibition.

Paul Simmons, Co-Founder of Timorous Beasties says, ‘We are excited to be presenting a new collection of work for Musée de la Toile de Jouy, marking 20 years since our first toile design. From hand printing to digital craft design, we have been able to approach toile printing from a different perspective and yet achieve patterns closely resembling original toiles. In the absence of text, the story-telling power across time and place within the make-up of Toiles de Jouy resonates with us deeply and has set us on our own Toile Tales journey portrayed in this special exhibition.’

Timorous Beasties Toile Tales

The exhibition runs until 19th May 2024, at Musée de la Toile de Jouy, 54 Rue Charles de Gaulle, 78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France.

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