Think Arts & Crafts interiors and you think William Morris. The ever loved prints of willow leaves, honeysuckle twisting through trellises and plump pomegranates. A fine example of one such interior is the National Trust property of Standen House in Sussex. And so what better place to attend a linocut workshop exploring pattern and print a sample of wallpaper.
Led by Peter Thwaites and Rebecca Aird, the artists behind The Standen Collection, they have set up their design studio in the Servants' Hall and covered the walls with photos and sketches of Standen's architecture and gardens. It is from here that they designed and printed the re-imagined wallpaper and furnishings that decorate the Servants' Wing and it is from here that they ran a series of traditional print making workshops.
I like order and I like process. My designs tend to take on a geometric discipline with just a hint of the wild, often basing them around the natural world. I like to think of them a bit like the gardens at Sissinghurst Castle - Harold's architectural planning keeping everything ordered and Vita's abundant planting escaping from the structure. So it was with great interest that I listened to Peter as he talked us through the process of designing a pattern and exploring the different forms and repeats that patterns can take. Armed with this knowledge and taking inspiration from Standen's interiors and exteriors we designed and then translated our patterns into print.
You'll often hear me say that one of the reasons I love printing is because of its unpredictable nature - you never quite know how it's going to turn out. I found this to be particularly true when printing patterns. Being just a tiny part of the repeat, the linocut bore very little resemblance to the pattern that I'd sketched out at the beginning of the workshop and I wasn't entirely sure if it was going to work. In trepidation I inked up the linocut and made my first print, no nearer to knowing if the afternoon had been a complete waste of time. Then the second, so far so good. Lining up and printing the third I saw the pattern taking shape and onto the triumphant fourth print to complete the pattern. Phew! Success. My confidence restored and my love of printing intact.