Whitworth Art Gallery – Wallpaper Paradise

Whitworth Art Gallery held a wallpaper exhibition called ‘Private Paradise’, which I caught just before it finished. The exhibition displayed enormous pieces of scenic wallpaper from the past and new creations from the present showcasing wallpaper designs of idyllic settings that were chosen to satisfy people’s need for escape.

It was also great to get a behind the scenes tour of the wallpaper collection, which is the largest collection in the UK.  Hopefully I will be returning here for research later in the year.



Birmingham Back to Backs wallpaper conservation project

The Back to Backs is a National Trust property situated in the centre of Birmingham, England.

Carefully restored, the atmospheric 19th century courtyard of working people’s houses provides a glimpse into the lives of the ordinary people who helped make Birmingham an extraordinary city.

On a fascinating guided tour, visitors can step back in time at Birmingham’s last surviving court of back to backs; houses built literally back-to-back around a communal courtyard.

Moving from the 1840s through to the 1970s, it is possible to discover the lives of some of the former residents who crammed into these small houses to live and work.

This year Skills for the Future Trainee Husnara Bibi is embarking on a new project where a range of indigenous wallpaper found at the Back to Backs  will be conserved, catalogued and prepared for an exhibition in June 2012.

The exhibition will be a visual record of the decorating tastes of the British working class over two centuries, displaying a wide range of patterns from sanitary tile prints, imitation arts and crafts, art nouveau, wood chip, figurative designs, brick effect, porridge, mica covered and vinyl, to marble effect wallpapers. 

This blog will follow developments in the wallpaper project and will include stories from the public of their memories of wallpaper and decorating.

Uncovering the past – Written and edited by Husnara Bibi

Roll on the memories – Written and edited by Matthew Osborne

Wallpaper on the walls of House 54