Marthe Armitage's Wallpaper Transforms Local Hospital Wards

West Mid installs designs by Chiswick artist to promote a calming environment

marthe armitage wallpaper in hospital
Image by Owen Richards


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Chiswick artist Marthe Armitage was recently commissioned by hospital charity CW+ to install her intricate, signature wallpaper designs in the Cardiac Care Unit and older patient wards at West Middlesex University Hospital.

The idea is to transform the environment for patients and their families in order to help promote a calm and atmosphere in the clinical setting.

Marthe produces her wallpapers from her studio in Chiswick using traditional techniques of lino block printing, but for this project her distinctive designs have been digitally printed onto vinyl which is a suitable material for the hospital environment. The designs were selected following a consultation process by CW+ with patients and staff.

Marthe has been designing hand-printed wallpapers for over 50 year. She is a member and past Master of the Art Workers' Guild, of which William Morris was himself Master in 1892. Now in her 80s, Marthe continues to be as creative and innovative as ever.

marthe armitage at work in her studio
Image - Owen Richards

She says: “I was very pleased to be asked to be involved in this project. I have not worked in a hospital before, so it’s lovely to see my designs in a new and different environment. I hope my wallpaper will help to calm patients by giving them something to really look at. I find if you really look at something, it can help take your mind off yourself – which I hope will help these patients feel a bit more relaxed.”

hospital waiting room showing marthe armitage wallpaper

The child of Dutch parents, Marthe Armitage was born in England in 1930. While still in her teens, she studied fine art at Chelsea School of Art, today part of the University of the Arts, London. Initially printing wallpaper manually for her family home, Marthe’s creative output was transformed by the acquisition of a 100-year old hand-operated offset lithographic press.

She is a member and past Master of the Art Workers’ Guild and has lectured on her wallpaper designs at the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as curating an exhibition of her work at Hogarth’s House, in Chiswick. She has also been involved in several projects in Chiswick, including the recent Chiswick Timeline.

Trystan Hawkins, Director of Patient Environment at CW+ commented, “We are delighted to have installed Marthe’s beautifully designed wallpaper in our hospital. Her designs are inspired by the natural world, which research shows can really help calm and distract patients when used in a clinical setting.”

Dr Sadia Khan, Consultant Cardiologist said, “Marthe’s wallpaper has transformed our unit and we have had so many patients and visitors comment on how beautiful it is. Patients in the cardiac unit are often waiting to have heart tests, which can understandably be a worrying time, so creating a calm and tranquil environment is really important.

CW+ is the official charity of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust including its hospitals and clinics. The Trust runs two main hospitals: Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital. The charity is currently fundraising for its Sun and Stars appeal to refurbish children's wards.

June 8, 2018

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