It has been a busy few months for me with many new and varied commissions and I am delighted to have completed a very unique project at Skaill House.
Skaill House in Orkney overlooks the 5,000 year old Neolithic village of Skara Brae, a Unesco world heritage site in the Bay of Skaill. Skaill House is one of the finest 17th Century mansions in Orkney, filled with antiques and artefacts. It's definitely worth a visit.
The estate was built in the 1620's and has been in the same family for 12 generations. The main house has been restored to how it was, as a family home in the 1950's. This is when the last owner Mrs Scarth, the 2nd wife of the 11th Laird resided and died at the age of 76 in 1991. Following her death the entire estate was bequeathed to Major Malcolm Macrea who is now the 12th laird of Breckness and custodean of Skaill House. In 1997, after six years of restoration work, Skaill House was opened to the public The rooms are largely unchanged since the 1950's and still has mrs Scarth's belongings on show.
It was Mrs Scarths bedroom that I had the pleasure to work on. The wallpaper in this room has unfortunately over the years been damaged beyond repair, due to so many visitors and wear and tear. It was looking very tired and we decided the best course of action was to try and replicate the pattern on just this section of wall that leads into the bedroom.
The wallpaper I believe is all original and was a bespoke design from around 1940/50's, probably commissioned by Mrs Scarth herself. The 'Rose Bud' design would have been made by hand using a simple repeat pattern of 4 motifs (rose buds) Each sheet of wallpaper would have been hand block-printed in 5 layers of colour.
Colour matching to wallpaper that has already been hung, aged, water stained and bleached over the years is not an easy task. I decided to scan the motifs and re create this paper digitally with the help of a local printing firm, iDesign
It is a wonderful thing to be able to use local resources here in orkney. iDesign is based within Isbister Brothers in Quoyloo, only a few miles down the road from Skaill House. This was the first wallpaper to be printed on their new machine. The team at iDesign did an incredible job at colour matching from a small sample I gave them.
This is the final wall showing the original sample I had, against the newly printed replica wallpaper.
Projects like these are only possible when you have a great team. Thank you to everybody involved.