On listening to the talk and presentation of the work of Marthe Armitage the artist and printmaker stole the show despite being flanked by others including Alison Harley, textile artist and historian, Jeremy Armitage, her son and architect, and the Exhibitions Curator for the Dovecot Studios Kate Grenyer. In promoting her newly published book entitled The Making of Marthe Armitage: Artist and Printmaker many interesting facets of the artists life came to light. Numerous insights were gleaned through discussion about her printmaking processes, of a creative process embedded within the creation of pattern on wallpapers and fabric. Marthe Armitage spoke of her love of drawing, of really looking to see what’s there. The artist acknowledged her continuing creative practice, of designing using pen and pencil, of painstakingly matching up her artwork to create repeats. As a result of continuing to draw and print Marthe Armitage has amassed a significant wallpaper collection and archive spanning many years.
Marthe Armitage experimented with block printing processes using her line drawings on linoleum to create printing blocks for wallpapers and textile prints. With the purchase of an offset lithographic proofing press Marthe was able to produce continuous rolls of handprinted wallpaper which retained the essence of hand block printing. Marthe continued making patterns for wall surfaces irrespective of whether if was fashionable or not to do so. She resolutely went her own route and discussed her need for pattern using ‘an artists eye and a craftsman’s skill’ to produce works of art.
Marthe noted that pattern surrounded her and it seemed important to document what she saw from her own perspective. She was inspired by her contempories including Matisse and Picasso as well as William Morris and the arts and craft movement. That said her drawings appear to be more spontaneous and freer with movement and life. Marthe stated that she didn’t worry about exactness which produced extrordinarily vibrant visual story telling throughout her wallpaper ranges. Marthe Armitage continues to be curious, as she wants to learn from what for her is contemporary, to make pattern her way. I could relate to her love of colour and pattern, of making by hand, of producing something that you love to see around you and within interiors from a contemporary perspective.
The Making of Marthe Armitage: Artist & Printmaker (2020) 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. (Jeremy Armitage 2020)