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Taking Part

Taking Part: Creative Connections

Creative Connections: opening out the unique and intriguing heritage of Rosehill Theatre.

Year 2

From its creation in 1959, Rosehill Theatre has been intimately connected to developments in fabric and theatre design and played a crucial role in the cultural growth of Cumbria.

The second year of our project explores the creative connections between Sir Nicholas Sekers (founder of Rosehill and Sekers Fabrics) and artists Oliver Messel (a celebrated 20th century designer, and designer of Rosehill Theatre), Cecil Beaton and Graham Sutherland, whose creations were part of the 1959 Exhibition of Paintings for Fabric Design.

These connections led to the creation of fabrics that were used throughout the fashion industry and were key to the 'New Look' that swept the world. We are interested to explore these connections and how a factory on the outskirts of a remote West Cumbrian town had such an influence on high-end fashion.

Our starting point is to use a collection of fashion photographs from the Sekers archive at The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, as inspiration to begin conversations with those who worked at Sekers Fabrics to collect memories and memorabilia that will be used to create an artwork in celebration of our unique heritage.

Our focus is on the workers' relationship to the fabric they produced, investigating whether workers were aware of how the fabric was used and the connection to 'haute couture' and the 'New Look'.

News story: Sekers reunion hailed a success

Year 1

Creative Connections is inspired by the collaboration between Oliver Messel, a leading theatre designer of the 20th century and Sir Nicholas Sekers, a Hungarian who was invited by the British Government to establish a silk mill to provide work for the unemployed at Whitehaven, then a declining port on the West Cumbrian coast.

The partnership led to the creation of fabrics that were used throughout the fashion industry and were key to the New Look that swept the world. As the partnership developed, Sekers collaborated with Messel to create Rosehill Theatre which opened in September 1959. The interior has been described as 'a rose-red silk-lined jewel box' and forms part of our unique cultural heritage at the core of our new Rosehill Reimagined theatre.

A new publication Rosehill: A History in Design accompanies the programme's exhibition and charts Rosehill’s connections to theatre and fashion design, bringing together the glamour of stage and fashion with industry and manufacturing and explores the creative collaborations that enabled the cultural growth of West Cumbria.

Our programme of workshops, exhibitions and talks with schools and local communities will enable us to interpret our heritage in fresh ways, allowing more people to engage with it and understand the way it has shaped their local environment and culture.


You can read all about our activities in a blog produced by our Creative Connections practitioner Janice Murray. Click on this link for details!

Tell us your story

We want to provide the opportunity for you to tell us about your connections to our heritage so we can document them as part of our heritage moving forward. If you have a story to share, please get in touch, we would love to hear it. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 01946 692422.


Our exciting project has been supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, for which we are very grateful.

Our free exhibition can be viewed when the building is open.

Copies of Rosehill: A History in Design are for sale at £5, available direct from the box office or online by following the image link.


The Strange World of Pierrot Flour - a design by Lindsay Kemp

Performance times and tickets

  • Tickets

We are grateful to the following organisations for capital funding:

We are grateful to the following organisations for revenue funding:


We are grateful to the following organisations for their in kind support: