Chiswick based artist Marthe Armitage creates and hand prints her wallpapers from lino blocks in her studio. This makes it sound so simple, but what she does involves serious dedication, time, patience and an awful lot of standing. Marthe started producing papers in the 60's and used to stand on her large lino printed designs to print them on to the paper. She now uses a lithographic press, which she winds by hand, with the help of her daughter for each colour that is used on each design.
I went to meet her once, she was so friendly and took me to her studio to see the printing process. I was so surprised by the simplicity of the studio, it was just big enough to house the press, a table for mixing the ink and a chest to store all the delicious samples she had. I wonder why I always imagine one needs so much, particularly space, when actually you just need what you need and then you get on with it.
Here is a lovely video that will bring her process alive, followed by some lovely images that shows of her work.
I wrote to thank her for allowing me to visit and asked a few questions that I had wished I had asked while I was there. She amazingly, replied, I will treasure her letter forever, here are a few little extracts;
'warm the lino with a table lamp as you cut' - why didn't I think of this, it has changed my life!!! no more slipping of the tools...
'inevitably one makes mistakes, but I suppose one gets better at disguising them' - thank goodness, its not just me, even the best recognises that mistakes can happen, but really - look close at her designs, there really are NO mistakes….
'keep the hand that is not wielding the cutter behind the one that it is' - a very important safety tip for all untrained (me) lino cutters out there…..those tools are seriously sharp!!
She is a complete and utter inspiration. She is of a different generation, yet her wallpapers are so timeless, would fit into any home of any generation. Her colours are divine, but what is most amazing is that each design is painstakingly rolled onto the paper, littlum by littlum….