Marthe Armitage . English Wallpaper at it’s finest.
Marthe Armitage is a British designer, who graduated from Chelsea School of Art just after the second world war, and after marriage and kids, started designing lino-cut wallpaper in the 60’s. ‘I’d done a bit of lino cutting at school’ she remembers. ‘ It struck me you could make wallpaper that way.’ Her first design ‘Angelica’ was based on this vigorous cow parsley-like plant which grew all along the river bank at Chiswick where she pushed a pram.
These blocks ‘last for ever,’ and she is still printing from them today. A hundred year old lithographic proofing press made things easier and the garage at the bottom of the garden became her studio.
Even so, in the eighties and nineties she found herself thinking ‘but nobody wants them.’ Her wallpaper was a fairly exclusive secret. People saw it on other people’s walls, at a neighbour’s or at dinner with the Warden of All Souls College Oxford, and sent her a line. It was only when the design company Hamilton Weston asked to represent her in 2004 that she looked back over her archive and thought (with astonishing modesty), ‘well perhaps they are … something.’
Her wallpapers are still available to buy through Hamilton Weston and there’s a fine range to choose from.
Many thanks to The Bible of British Taste for some of their comments and photos from their lovely site (well worth a look).
There’s a great a short film about Marthe below too.
As a final point of interest designer Hannah Nunn has recently added a beautiful range of wallpapers to the products available on her website, and in her shop Radiance based in Hebden Bridge. These are two of the new wallpapers, called ‘Beech Leaves’ and ‘Paper Meadow’.
With future plans to release this ‘In The Tall Grass’ sometime in early October. WOW Lovely work Hannah, I need a few more walls in my home now !
If you’re quick you may be able to watch the BBC’s programme about the history of Wallpaper in their ‘ Fabric of Britain ‘ series here, available until October 9th.