about the book

A rich and personal narrative of Marthe Armitage - an eloquent voice in the realm of pattern-making and artisanal wallpapers

The book explores what lies behind the making of Marthe Armitage’s collection of beautiful and distinctive hand-made wallpapers. A story told through both words and images, it is a journey of rediscovery by Marthe Armitage as she approaches her ninetieth year. Contemporary photographers, Callum Rice and Oona Brown, have imaginatively and thoughtfully documented Marthe’s archive, as well as creating glimpses into life in Strand on the Green, her home since the 1930s. Throughout, Marthe and her family give insights to a life as an artist and pattern-maker, whose early wallpapers were produced as floor prints in a makeshift studio. Fitted in around every-day life, Marthe says: “The walls were bare, the children were at school for the day and there was no money to buy wallpaper. But with the memory of the block printers in Ludhiana Bazaar the idea of making my own with a large piece of lino, a roll of paper and a tube of Mr. Lawrence’s printing ink, the wallpaper was the result. Story telling is Marthe’s metier. Her hand-made wallpapers and their inventive repeating patterns reflect Marthe’s discipline of looking - really looking - as well as her interest in William Morris and Charles Voysey of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Marthe also cites the influence of her drawing studies at Chelsea School of Art in the late 1940s and early 1950s where, “We were taught how important it was to have a sense of form - an understanding of air around the subject”. In 1968 Marthe bought a hundred-year old press, which is still in use printing the collection of Marthe Armitage wallpaper much sought after, and commanding a new following on Instagram (@marthearmitageprints).