Finding Peggy Angus

As part of our ‘Colourful Minds’ exhibition, The New Craftsmen has commissioned an exclusive range of limited edition wallpaper and wallpaper prints designed by the great Peggy Angus.

Although Peggy started her career nearly a century ago, her designs have remained timeless. Now with the incredible support and collaboration of Peggy Angus' family, it has been possible to breathe new life into these remarkable prints once more.

The New Craftsmen has commissioned an exclusive range of limited edition wallpaper from the Peggy Angus archive The New Craftsmen has commissioned an exclusive range of limited edition wallpaper from the Peggy Angus archive

It’s hard to miss a Peggy Angus design. Bold, beautiful and brilliant; while Peggy often said that her wallpaper was tailored to show off art in the home, each roll is, without doubt, a work of art in itself.

Often described as a “romantic revolutionary”, Peggy was a true patron of the arts who was never afraid to march to the beat of her own drum. Peggy’s wallpaper designs first dominated the London interior design scene in the 1960s, and are still sought after to this day.

Peggy was rarely seen without her trademark fez. (Photography by James Ravilious, copyright of Robin Ravilious) Peggy was rarely seen without her trademark fez. (Photography by James Ravilious, copyright of Robin Ravilious)

Her patterns were often informed by her extensive travels, and offered a refreshing contrast to the stark modernist movement that informed architecture and design during post-war Britain.

Born in Chile, Peggy later moved with her family to London when she was still a child. She studied at the Royal College of Art with the intention of becoming a painter, but later transferred to the college’s Design School where she was taught by Paul Nash. Her peers included Enid Marx, Eric Ravilious, Helen Binyon and Edward Bawden.

Peggy rented a shepherd's cottage, Furlongs, at the foot of the South Downs from 1933 onwards, where a circle of artists would often gather. The cottage was devoid of the luxuries of modern living, such as electricity and sophisticated plumbing, and proved to be a great source of inspiration to many who stayed there, including Eric Ravilious who said his time there altered his whole artistic outlook.

Peggy soon began experimenting with wallpaper design quite by chance, following her success producing patterned tile murals; which were notably displayed at London Heathrow Airport’s Underground Station and the 1958 Bruxelles Exhibition at the British Pavilion. She would often sketch out the designs for her tiles and murals on long sheets of paper first, and soon became encouraged by those who visited her studio to transfer her designs onto wallpaper.

She took great inspiration from renowned artist and designer William Morris, whose work she greatly admired, yet her prints were still unique and unlike anything else on the market at the time.

Peggy was a great believer that art should never be hung on a plain white wall Peggy was a great believer that art should never be hung on a plain white wall

Her process was simple but arduous due to her preference for printing each design by hand. First, she would print a long roll of lining paper in one colour using ordinary emulsion paint. The requested design was then carved into a block of lino and printed by hand in a second colour until the roll was completely covered, giving the wallpaper a unique and charming quality.

A range of limited edition prints are also available, handmade using Peggy's method for printing her wallpaper A range of limited edition prints are also available, handmade using Peggy's method for printing her wallpaper

Peggy was able to continue producing her wallpaper organically thanks to the help of a team of apprentices, as well as her daughter Victoria and granddaughter Emma; who will produce this one-off commission for The New Craftsmen along with her niece in the Shetlands.

This will be the first time these designs have been displayed in their original form and available to purchase since Peggy passed away. It is still rare to get the opportunity to see Peggy’s original handprinted wallpaper since it was often commissioned for private clients, so remains hidden in people’s houses.

These prints will be produced by Peggy’s granddaughter Emma, and her niece Zoe, in the Shetland islands These prints will be produced by Peggy’s granddaughter Emma and her niece Zoe in the Shetland islands

Three patterns will be produced in five colours, which can be reversed, so there are 10 different colour options available for each design. Only 40 rolls will be printed, so this is a truly a unique opportunity to bring Peggy’s striking vision into the home.

These exclusive prints will be available for a limited time only, so contact Jonathan Wry at [email protected] for more information.