Why I Love ... wallpaper by artist Lynne Arnison

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th May 2020, 3:00 pm

I have had a fascination and love of wallpaper all my life! Yes, I know it’s not very rock ’n’ roll but bear with me, writes artist Lynne Arnision.

I have only consciously realised that I had this obsession in recent years when I started to use this as a medium in my artwork.

Before this, wallpaper was something to use in my home to decorate each room.

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Let me take you back through my life and my connections with those rolls of beautiful printed paper and it may spark a few memories and reminiscences you may have.

My first recollection of wallpaper was of course when I was very young, living at home in a solid stone back to back house.

I remember sitting in the bath probably each Sunday evening looking at the tropical fish wallpaper, marvelling at the colours and different varieties of fish.

Down the road in a similar house lived my gran, who was probably in her 70s then, but she had some wonderful turquoise and purple wallpaper decorated with mandala shapes in her bathroom.

I thought this was really cool of my gran, having this funky wallpaper.When I was young my mum worked at a wallpaper factory called Harlequin’s, so I was never short of paper to draw and paint on.

I was always immersed in creating paintings from a young age.

I recall splurging blobs of poster paint on paper then folding the paper in two to create ‘butterfly’ paintings.

Maybe I should have saved some of these paintings to be psychologically tested using the Rorschach inkblot test.

For those of you old enough to remember, this next connection with wallpaper will ring some school bells.

Reaching the milestone of secondary school, and I found myself laden down with school text books that had to be kept neat and in good condition otherwise you risked bad marks or, even worse, detention.

So school books had to be protected. What was the staple method back then? Wallpaper, of course!

Students may now compete with designer backpacks and phones, but back then, you were judged on the wallpaper covering your books. Kids can be cruel, but I think mine stood up to judgement!

When I started at Jacob Kramer Art College in Leeds, I knew little about art history apart from my initial discovery of the Pre-Raphaelites and their paintings.

So, this then led me to the work of William Morris, Walter Crane and Augustus Pugin.Among other talents they all created wallpaper designs in the 19th century that are still in use today.

I admire the skill and craftsmanship involved in creating such wallpapers, as well as the intricate designs based on flora and fauna.When it came to decorating my own homes there was only one choice for me, wallpaper.

However, I don’t go in for the ‘feature’ wall look, it’s full on four walls for me in every room, plus masses of paintings, photographs and mirrors.

If you come to my house, be prepared! As I grew up in an era where you don’t throw things away because ‘it might come in’ I have saved all the roll ends of my wallpaper.

This comes to how I started using wallpaper in my artwork. One day I needed a large piece of paper to sketch on but had no sketchpad large enough so I cut off some wallpaper to use the reverse.

Then I had the lightbulb moment and experimented with using the right side for painting on.

I try to source vintage wallpaper, or use appropriate wallpaper of my own to compliment the painting I am creating.

I am using wallpaper as a backdrop for portraits. I also create collages from wallpapers I have.