THE POLYCHROME COLLECTION

Three original designs from the archive of designer Marthe Armitage; ‘Lobby’, ‘Passionflower’, and ‘Old Man’s Beard’ have been rendered for the first time on fabric.

Working with the challenges of scale and keeping the nuances of the printer’s hand, the company’s Creative Director, Harriet Eastman, has re-mastered the Lino block designs for screen printing. Harriet has worked closely with the printers to develop three colourways for each design using Marthe’s own method of handprinting; by overlaying two colours to produce a combined colour – or ‘accidental’ – an additional layer of depth is added to the design.

The collection was photographed in Chiswick House, a favourite place of Marthe’s throughout her life; the classical interior provided the perfect backdrop for these timeless, vibrant fabrics.

LOBBY

In the 1950’s, when Marthe Armitage started producing her intricate, botanical patterns, she initially had to print the large lino blocks on the floor. The blocks were cumbersome, and the repeating patterns were complex, so she limited herself to just one colour.

She did, however, attempt one multi coloured design, ‘Lobby’, using three blocks to create five colours; “…I printed it in sheets, not in a roll. And then it was an enormous block. I had to do it three times, and then the nightmare of colours. No, it really was a nightmare.” She printed just enough sheets to paper the garden lobby at her Georgian home in Chiswick before giving up in despair.

Later, Marthe’s daughter Jo, who by then lived in the house, wondered if printing the design on fabric would be a way to bring to life the beautiful half tones and rich texture of the original multi-coloured floor-printed paper, with its dense, saturated colour – and the idea of a ‘Polychrome’ Collection was born.

‘Lobby’ fabric, in colourway ‘Fauve’, was previewed at London Design Festival 2023 in a collaboration with Sigmar.  Two more colourways have been introduced: ‘Folio’ using the colours of the original paper, and ‘Spring’, a fresh palette of greens and blue.

LOBBY
Spring

LOBBY
Folio

LOBBY
Fauve

PASSIONFLOWER

“Not all plants lend themselves to being used in a pattern but passionflower is definitely one of them. …the flower is so extraordinary. You look at it closely and you can’t believe that a flower like that should have evolved.”

Marthe designed ‘Passionflower’– a gorgeous riot of leaves and flowers – after she acquired her offset printing press; the calibration of lino block, roller and paper allowed her to print two colours and create a third with the overlap.

‘Forest’ colourway is a rich combination of red and green, ‘Blues’ pairs blue with aqua, and ‘Carnival’ features lavender leaves against a glowing yellow ground.

PASSIONFLOWER
Carnival

PASSIONFLOWER
Forest

PASSIONFLOWER
Blues

“NOT ALL PLANTS LEND THEMSELVES TO BEING
USED IN A PATTERN BUT PASSIONFLOWER IS
DEFINITELY ONE OF THEM.”

OLD MAN’S BEARD

Marthe was inspired by the wild clematis growing all over a derelict house in the street near her home “…great swathes of it…. the fluffy seed heads are so pretty, so lovely…” to create ‘Old Man’s Beard’, a two-block handprint design which is now one of Marthe’s best loved and most widely used wallpapers.

For the ‘Polychrome’ fabric three colourways – ‘Jamboree’, ‘Moonshine’ and ‘Meadow’ have been developed which reference the catalogue of colours used for the handprinted wallpaper.

OLD MAN’S BEARD
Meadow

OLD MAN’S BEARD
Jamboree

OLD MAN’S BEARD
Moonshine

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information, pricing and sample requests contact [email protected]

Marthe Armitage Prints will be exhibiting at:

Focus/24
16 – 20 September
Design Centre Chelsea Harbour

and

Focus/24: The Longer View
23 September – 11 October
Design Centre Chelsea Harbour

Marthe Armitage Prints showroom and studio is open to the public on Fridays (other days by appointment).