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Southwark's little gem hosts stunning Arts and Crafts designs

Published Monday, 28 June 2010

Arts and Crafts wallpapers set alongside contemporary works by David Mabb and students from the London College of Communications.

Wallpaper: An exhibition at the Cuming Museum

Arts and Crafts wallpapers set alongside contemporary works by David Mabb and students from the London College of Communications.

1 July to 28 August 2010

This exhibition explores fine examples of arts and crafts wallpaper design of the late 19 and early 20 centuries centuries including pieces by Walter Crane and Peckham born Lewis Foreman Day.

The exhibition also includes works by local artist David Mabb and contemporary wallpaper designs in response to Southwark's collection by prize winning students from a competition organized by the Wallpaper History Society and the London College of Communications.

Councillor Veronica Ward, cabinet member for culture, leisure, sport and the Olympics; who will open the exhibition next Tuesday 6 July said,"The Cuming museum is one of Southwark's little gems, home to a vast array of fascinating pieces that are well worth a visit.

The wallpaper exhibition is a must-see for anyone who loves arts and crafts period work and takes an interest in pattern or interior design. These designs, many over 100 years old, wouldn't look out of place in our homes today and have informed contemporary design since before the turn of the last century."

The arts and crafts wallpapers were originally donated to the South London Gallery in 1902 by Jeffrey & Co., the celebrated London wallpaper manufacturers.

They now form part of Southwark's art collection. There are examples of wallpapers by a number of renowned designers including Augustus Pugin, Henry Wilson, Sidney G. Mawson and George Heywood Sumner.

The wallpapers are hand-made by repeated wood-block printing and were extremely expensive to produce. The time consuming production process is demonstrated within the exhibition by two 18th century designs by Pugin, showing layers of colour supplied one block at a time.

Alongside the historic wallpapers, the museum is exhibiting contemporary responses. Lewisham artist David Mabb's work reinterprets designs by William Morris and Russians Malevich and Popova.

The exhibition also includes winning entries from the Wallpaper History Society's 2010 wallpaper design competition.

Students from the London College of Communication's BA Surface Design Course were invited to enter works inspired by and in response to the museum's historic wallpaper collection. The three winning entries are displayed within the exhibition.

Programme of events

Thursday evening talks at 6pm

  • 15 July Dr Christopher Jordan: "An introduction to the exhibition".
  • 22 July Tony Roche: "Contemporary print making". Includes demonstration.
  • 29 July David Mabb: "William Morris Interventions"

Activities for children and families

  • 24 July: Wonderful wallpaper! Family art day.
  • 2012 Open Weekend (london2012.com/openweekend)
  • Look at the historic wallpapers and have a go at making your own. Learn some printing techniques and design your own wallpaper.
  • August, Tuesday afternoons, 2.30pm to 4pm, family craft activities.

Support for the exhibition has come from:

  • London College of Communications (BA Surface Design)
  • Wallpaper History Society

Further information

The Cuming Museum is part of Southwark Council's Culture Service. The museum originally opened in 1906 and houses the Cuming Family collection together with telling the story of the history of Southwark, one of London's most historic boroughs. The museum is open Tuesdays to Saturdays 10am to 5pm and is free. Images from the Wallpaper exhibition are available to view online at

Cuming Museum
151 Walworth Road
SE17 1RY
Telephone. 020 7525 2332

The Wallpaper History Society

Founded in 1986, the Wallpaper History Society was established to promote an awareness and understanding of historic and contemporary wallcoverings. Our scope is broad and encompasses not only the history of wallpapers but also topics relating to other types of wallcoverings and the subject of interior decoration as a whole.

This course sits within the Faculty of Design and is concerned with developing creative visual ideas that can be translated into printed designs for a wide range of surfaces.

BA Surface Design
London College of Communications
Elephant & Castle
London SE1 6SB

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