Allyson McDermottis one of the world’s leading authorities on conserving, recreating and hanging historic wallpapers. Part artist, part scientist, part sleuth, she peels away the layers of history for clients including The National Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and now Arts & Crafts Hammersmith, for which she was commissioned to work on the papers at Emery Walker’s House at 7 Hammersmith Terrace and at William Morris’ home at Kelmscott House, 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith.
Her practice offers a wide range of specialist services including wallpaper design and printing, conservation and restoration of original wallpapers and interiors, investigation and research and historic interior design consultancy.
Restoration schemes often begin with just a delicate shred of original paper, and Allyson uses a battery of investigative techniques to identify the pigments, papers, varnishes and processes used by its makers. She is famous in the conservation world for her ability to piece together minute clues, allowing fragments to live again as complete designs. Where she is only restoring damaged areas of wallpaper, her new work will hang alongside original sections and be completely indistinguishable.
Allyson’s studio is one of the last remaining block printing studios in Europe and preserves many associated crafts including formulating historically correct paints. There are high-tech elements too, with advanced digital processes used to address particular projects. Above all, her studio’s work is about preserving and rediscovering the beauty of what had so nearly become a lost art.
The condition of the wallpapers at Emery Walker’s House have, inevitably, been affected by the problems associated with domestic use, a city atmosphere and water ingress, the latter particularly evident along the external walls facing the river.
Allyson has been undertaking a programme of recording and photographing, analysing, cleaning and repairing, retouching and recreating sections of missing paper at both houses revealing the beauty and brightness of the original hand-blocked papers. Come and see for youself at Kelmscott House, or Emery Walker’s House when it reopens this Spring.