June 24th, 2020
“I am an aged artist still working – just. My tubes of paint had been left un opened and ignored following a year of unhealth and it seemed to me that the muse had departed .
And then I also felt that there were enough of my art works clogging up peoples’ walls .
All in all it is easier to sit and read than to gather oneself up to work .
I had just , some weeks before , decided that I might do one more linocut wallpaper design .Then friends stuck at home started being creative and , not to be outdone , I got out the paints and finished a design of houses taking inspiration from a lovely little book – ” How to look at Houses ” by Will Jones .
It progressed slowly and was finished just as lockdown started .
“Woodland Track” . pen on paper .
The subject is houses without people except a few cyclists to draw it together . It is called “Home” but “Lockdown ” could very well be its title .
When Lockdown did start I noticed that people around had suddenly more time and there was a blossoming of creativity – knitting , woodwork , gardening , game making , inspired child care ; so not to be outdone I squeezed out some paint onto a piece of board , selected some brushes , a piece of thick paper in the absence of a bare canvas and set to . ” Flowers” oil on canvas .
I then ordered some canvases and tubes of paint online and I was once more in business , swinging between euphoria and reality. “Still life in Lockdown”.
All negativity goes while I am painting and satisfaction lasts till evening but then the cold grey light of morning has to be faced. “Flowers in lock down ” oil on board .
I had really intended to be a painter but things happened differently. ” View from the Garden,” oil on canvas.
“A Corner of the Garden.” Oil on canvas.
I devised a way of printing wall paper with a large piece of lino printed on the floor , standing on the block to apply pressure .
[A hundred year old lithographic proofing press made things easier and the garage at the bottom of the garden became a studio.]
As a child my passion was for horses and so I drew horses and more horses and luckily horizons expanded at art school . At art school drawing was taught and composition , history of architecture , lettering , lino printing , lithography , book illustration , and more. . “Barn in Middlesmoor” pen on paper .
So my first subject 5 years later was Angelica , a plant in the cow parsley family that grew along the river wall . [this is the original lino block and a sample of the printed paper.]
It has marvellously straight stalks and a great variety of leaf forms . We didn’t have a proper garden but pram pushing round the local streets was inspiration enough in the summer , and in the winter I had Richard Hatton’s Craftsmans Plant Book and Stella Ross Craig’s volumes of British Wild Flowers for information. [Shown here a later version of Angelica for sale via Hamilton and Weston Wallpapers.]
After several plant based designs I wanted to do a scenic one . Georgina Masson’s book on Italian Gardens gave me the idea and I made a drawing of an endless stair .
Then I chose a Tudor manor house ; how to choose from among castles , palaces , mansions , temples , terraces and upturned boats?
The choice was made and then the characters that lived in this manor house demanded to be included and there was a story ( with a moral) .
Also Chiswick House . Houses are awfully difficult to put into repeat . I always needed some perspective but then the sky has to join with the ground all the time .
Spot patterns are so much easier so then there came Alphabet , Jugs , Flora and a pagoda .
This London river is a wonder that never palls .
It is subject for drawing and painting with Geese and swans and boats, changing water patterns and this absurd railway bridge .
But I have never been able to put it into repeat .
I do love painting : still life , flowers , portraits . Inspired by Russian icons I have done both a painting – “St George and the Dragon, ” oil on canvas).
– and a linocut -“St George and the Dragon ,” linocut .
Also drawing anything and everything .
If only one had unlimited time and energy or were driven like Van Gogh , whom I love with undying love , there is so, so much in this beautiful world that can keep one working forever .
An ancient divine – Thomas Trahearn said that the first duty of man is to enjoy God’s good world .
I can , of course go on for ever but pictures are better to look at than words .
The Making of Marthe Armitage, her illustrated book, is for sake with or without a hand-printed wallpaper dust wrapper: https://marthearmitagebook
www.marthearmitage.co.uk Marthe’s wallpaper and fabric printing website.
Martha’s grandson, Jacob Broadhurst, sells her framed linocuts including St George and the Dragon : maartprints.com
AND:- The first ever blog – published in 2012 – on the bibeofbritishtaste: https://bibleofbritishtaste.com/the-best-hand-made-wallpaper-in-the-world-is-by-marthe-armitage
All pictures copyright bibleofbritishtaste or Marthe Armitage/ Hamilton Weston
Very grateful thanks to Marthe Armitage and her family