“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
Inspirational, enduring works of art, I never tire of your wall paper
A friend recommended that I look at this site, reinforcing why I consider her a special friend: this is uplifting and inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
Such magical work. Thank you for showing us the wonderful paintings completed during lockdown. This has been a rare treat.
This is lovely! Thank you for brightening my day!
Inspiring, beautiful and just wonderful!
Marvellous work and life, thank you.
She is a National Treasure and should be made a Dame!
Thank you for this gem of a post on a very special artist.
What beautiful work and such an inspirational practice. Thank you.
My Grandson counted 489 things on my walls and many chairs…I so related to your surroundings and was blessed by your talent…thank you
I went to your exhibition in Chiswick and a talk by you at the V&A. My friend Gillian Lee had told me about your work. I am delighted to have found this .
Thrilled to have been led to this, Marthe, which I wouldn’t have found by myself. It’s mad e may day to see that you are continuiiong to wrok with paintings as well as the design of houses.
I was sad after a day of teaching on Zoom and this beautiful article lifted me up. What an inspiring approach to art and life, and what ravishing work. Thank you
Your work, life and focus are so inspiring. Thank you for sharing all this with us. Whenever I look at your wallpaper I feel such pleasure and peace and yet I know how much work goes into making and printing your linocuts. Purchased your book a while ago and it is beautiful. And it is great you are painting again.