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Artist Nicole Tilley takes inspiration from layers of history

When artist Nicole Tilley realised that wallpapers discovered in a farmhouse were being removed in favour of the original stone walls, she quickly set about retrieving as many examples as possible, discovering a range of papers dating over many years.

Built in the late 19th century, the farmhouse sits in a mountain valley in southwest Wales and dating evidence in the property includes a newspaper fragment from under the floorboards from 1915 and a signed and dated plasterboard installed in 1961. Nicole intends to use the samples of wallpaper as inspiration for her visual art, and says ‘I feel I would like to honour the previous tenants, particularly the woman of the house. I imagine how precious her space would have been to her over a hundred years ago’. Nicole says she feels emotionally connected to the wallpaper, representing as it does a hidden female history that is so often overlooked.

Removing the papers layer-after-layer Nicole discovered a range of designs, including an exotic bird print in vivid pinks and greens in the parlour, and a Japanese-style blossom design in the master bedroom.

Although it would be lovely to date these papers individually, even if this proves impossible, their vivid designs act as silent witness of a loving commitment to making the farmhouse a beautiful place to live.

Rowena Beighton-Dykes


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