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29 SEPTEMBER 2013

Handmade in Britain: The Story of Wallpaper

"In the second programme in the series, presenter Paul Martin reveals the secret history of wallpaper from the 17th century to the present day.

The film explores how wallpaper, seemingly so fragile and easy to replace, provides a vital index of changing tastes in the home. The programme shows how from its earliest days wallpaper imitated other, more costly wall coverings: from the 17th–century papers that were designed to look like embroidered textiles to 18th–century flocked wallpapers. The latter, intended as a cheaper substitute for costly damasks or velvets, became a triumph of British innovation, coming to grace the grandest of state apartments and country house interiors.

Focussing on how wallpaper was actually made, the programme goes onto explore how it became one of the battlefields in discussions about design in the 19th century. For, although technological innovations in machine printing had allowed manufacturers to print elaborate designs with complex colour–ways, some commentators were shocked by the poor aesthetic quality of British wallpapers. The programme looks at how designers and reformers attempted to take the situation in hand: from 'The False Principles of Design', an exhibition organised by Sir Henry Cole, the first Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which sought to instruct the British public in good and bad design; to the pioneering work of Augustus Pugin and William Morris.

Finally, the film traces the fortunes of wallpaper in the 20th century. Patterned walls faced stiff competition from the purity of plain, painted or whitewashed walls, as advocated by modernists like Le Corbusier. However, new techniques, like screen–printing, allowed shorter runs of innovate wallpapers, which were aimed at architects and interior designers. And, as Paul Martin discovers, wallpaper is still flourishing at the beginning of the 21st century. A combination of digital printing, screen–printing and hand–printing allows companies, like Timorous Beasties, to produce exciting new designs.

Presented by Paul Martin, contributors include Christine Woods, Anthony Wells–Cole, Martha Armitage, Allyson McDermott and Paul Simmons (Timorous Beasties), as well as V&A experts."

First broadcast on 25 September 2013 on BBC Four as part of the Handmade in Britain series [http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03bm1rg].

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16th century17th century18th century19th century20th century21st century • Allyson McDermott • Anthony Wells-Cole • antiqueart and craftsArts and Crafts Movement • Augustus Pugin • bad design • BBC Four • changing tastes • Christine Woods • colourways • damask • deluxe item • design craftdigital printingdomestic material object • elaborate designs • embroidered textiles • flock wallpaper • good design • hand-printing • Handmade in Britain (series) • Henry Cole • industrial grime • interior design • interior designer • interior stylingLe Corbusierluxury • machine printing • makersmanufacturing technology • Marthe Armitage • Palladio Wallpapers • pattern • Paul Martin • Paul Simmons • poisonprinting processscreenprinting • stately homes • technological innovation • The False Principles of Design • Timorous Beasties • two-up-two-down • velvetVictoria and Albert Museum • wall coverings • wallpaperwallpaper design • wallpapering • William Morris

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 MARCH 2013

Chinoiserie at Lincolnshire's Belton House

"Hand painted C18th Chinese wallpaper at Belton in the Chinese Bedroom with a continuous scene of a garden party. Cornice, dado and other joinery painted to imitate bamboo."

(National Trust, UK)

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18th centurybamboobedroom • Belton House • Chinese • Chinese Bedroom • Chinese wallpaper • Chinoiseriecontinuous scenedecordecorationdecorative artsdepictionEast Midlands • furnishings • garden party • great country house • hand-paintedinterior designLincolnshire • National Trust • National Trust Images • oriental • orientalismornamentalpaintingscenery • stately home • UKvisual designvisual patternwallpaper

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
25 SEPTEMBER 2012

Anstey Wallpaper Design and Innovation

"Anstey Design and Technical teams are constantly looking for new ideas and techniques for our wallpapers. Every year we research the latest trends and colours at the London and Paris shows in order to develop cutting edge new products to present to our client base.

We have a specialist Technical Development Department which explores and combines novel inks, substrates, techniques and technology in order to constantly develop new and innovative products from our wide range of processes."

(Anstey Wallpaper Company Ltd.)

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Anstey Wallpaper Company Ltd. • block printingcolour • commercial printing • continuous innovation • decorationdesign techniques • designed for durability • designed for performance • digital printing • flat-screen printing • flexographic • flexographic printing • flexography • gravure • gravure printing • hand block-printing • innovative products • intaglio printing • long table printing • long table screen • Loughborough • machine trialled • novel inks • offset printingpaper • print processes • printing press • rotary printing press • rotary screen • rotogravure • rotogravure process • specialist substrates • substrates • surface printing • surflex printing • technical development • technical development department • techniques and technology • trendsUK • vacuum screen • vinyl wallpaper • wallcoverings • wallpaperwallpaper designWilliam Morris

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
24 FEBRUARY 2004

A disturbing little film called A Little Death

"It's a long time since I've seen a film as genuinely disturbing as A Little Death. The title refers to the phrase 'un petite mort'. French slang for orgasm. This surreal film explores all the ambiguity of that phrase to devastating effect. A couple are making love. Or rather having sex – the hostility between them is palpable. The moment of climax flings them both into another dimension where the emotional savagery of their relationship is played out for real. Luscious colour photography gives way to crisp black and white, as Davison crashes through their bed into an identical room where everything, including her lover, is literally two–dimensional, bleached of life but tilled with an almost impersonal hatred. The tension that previously simmered beneath the surface is unleashed in images of extraordinary violence. Brophy, trapped in the 'wallpaper' of this unnatural room, can only scream as she takes her revenge. This ambitious script is well supported by its technically immaculate execution. It is tightly constructed, beautifully edited and the superb soundtrack is unusually effective, an integral part of the film rattler than (as too often happens) an afterthought. Much of the power of the film has to do with its purely visual logic, it didn't start to make sense to me until I stopped trying to figure out what was going on and just let the images wash over me. This is one of those rare films that can stand repeated viewings (providing you can) and serious philosophical debate, despite the fact its violent take on gender relations is more than a little disturbing. A Little Death is an uncommonly brave and passionate piece of filmmaking that stays in the mind long after it's been seen."

(Pavement magazine, 1995)

Fig.1 Simon Perkins and Paul Swadel (1994). "A Little Death", James Wallace Productions: 16mm, 11 minutes. [A Little Death externalises conflict between characters through the use of physical obstacles and camera perspectives. The film is an evolution of the "Into The Void" project.]
Fig.2 Natalie Robertson (1994). Josephine Davison is confused to find herself on a photocopied floor.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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