Monday, 11 October 2010

Satyrs, Putti and Masks (oh my)

This recent commission for a painted wall hanging is a nice opportunity for me to show you one of my favourite examples of grotesquework. I love it for its dynamic, bold and playful subject matter.

This large scale design is one of the five we selected for The Anticke Collection
The Golden Cross wall hanging

It depicts a scrolling fantasy of arabesques, masks, satyrs, naked putti and pilasters.

This is an English variation on the Italian Renaissance decorative style which in turn is derived from Ancient Rome (the word grotesque coming from the Latin root "grotto" meaning a small cave or hollow where these types of design were discovered.)
Details of our painted cloth

Painting the cloth at the workshop. Close reference is made to photos of the original wall painting to capture the spirit of the artist who painted it nearly 500 years ago.

The original black and white wall painting of c1550 still survives in good condition in a 15th century inn. This is largely because it was preserved behind panelling until its discovery in the 1940's. The design was painted with lamp black and size on lime washed lime plaster.

Details of the original wall painting
Commissioning Fairlyte

As one of The Anticke Collection designs we can paint the Golden Cross Grotesque onto linen to be hung as a wall cloth, or by the metre for curtains and soft furnishings. Sections may also be painted as fresco secco panels. Please contact Fairlyte for details and pricing.

Painted cloths installed wall to wall in Shakespeare's Birthplace Museum.
Shakespeare's Birthplace Museum

Reopening in 2000 following an ambitious redisplay project this landmark museum commissioned us to paint the Golden Cross Grotesque onto stiffened linen to line the walls of the upstairs parlour. We also provided cloths for 3 other rooms.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Fairlyte Open Studios


The Fairlyte Workshop is opening its doors for the 
COASTAL CURRENTS Arts Festval 2010
A celebration of visual arts, performance and events throughout my hometown of Hastings & beyond.

Opening times:
18 - 19 & 25 - 26 September 11am - 6pm  

For full details including directions please visit the COASTAL CURRENTS website
If you are local to Hastings on the South Coast of England it would be great to meet you. Come and have a cream tea and meet me and my two guest designer makers (see below)

Here is a little montage of some of the work I'll have on show and for sale:

Some of my fresco secco paintings

....and here are some Elizabethan designs hand painted on linen for cushions and curtains and as fresco secco panels.

A mosaic of Elizabethan designs

Joining me are:

Julie Tucker-Williams
Julie creates unique pieces in silver and gold, precious stones and freshwater pearls. Buy unusual jewellery from stock or commission a piece to your personal requirements.

Vanessa is a contemporary crochet jewellery designer who creates delicate, finely detailed accessories. As a silkscreen artist her prints capture the provocative narrative in couture, dance and illustration.

Vanessa's crochet pendant and Julie's silver heart pendant

Monday, 6 September 2010

Mermaids and Multivines

A recent commission to paint a swirling Elizabethan Multivine design. 

The finished painted wall
Mel and Dave painting the design

We painted this design between the studding of an attic bedroom in a Grade II listed Elizabethan house in Mermaid Street, Rye.

Mermaid Street, Rye

The original design was discovered painted on the walls of a house in Canterbury which is why we have named the design The Canterbury Multivine. Whilst the house is long since demolished, fortunately the painting was recorded as a watercolour just before the bulldozers moved in. Thanks to this sketch we were able to reconstruct what we know was a popular style of design in the 16th century.

A detail of the original watercolour

As Elizabethan wall painting designs go this is one of the more subtle and pretty of them with a loose flowing arrangement of flowers, leaves, acorns and fruit. As with most Elizabethan wall paintings this design has its appertaining frieze across the top.  The colours consist of a simple palette of earth colours: shades of yellow and red ochre and terre verte.

We have enjoyed using this elegant design over the years in different settings. Here are some examples (not terribly good quality photos I'm afraid - these are scans from photos - pre-digital era!) 
Canterbury Multivine - Exhibition stand at Period Living Fair
Canterbury Multivine painted on kitchen walls  (private client)
Canterbury Multivine painted between beams in a library (private client)

Monday, 2 August 2010


Supplied to The General Trading Company 

This world-famous department store has long been a favourite of the Queen and once held the wedding list for the Prince of Wales. In Spring the store relocated from Sloane Square to South Kensington introducing  new designers along the way.

I was invited to supply a collection of velvet cushions hand painted with a slightly fierce, slightly demure looking dragon head. This design is based on an Elizabethan grotesque wall painting found in a house in Surrey.

Elizabethan wall painting

Here are some shots I took at the workshop then in store later on.

Newly painted Dragon cushions at the Fairlyte workshop.

Dragon cushions piled up at the workshop before delivery to London
Dragon and pompom cushions amongst others at The General Trading Co. Store.
Cushions dotted around the store

Along with the Dragon cushions I also supplied unpainted pompom cushions and some linen cushions painted with leaves:
Pompom cushions in six colours. Pictured here at the workshop against one of my  fresco secco panels titled "Dragonfly tree"
Linen cushions with painted leaves in four shades pictured at workshop
It was good to have a large order like this from such a prestigious shop. The connection was made in November 2010 when The GTC hosted the first gathering of QEST scholars. Called The British Craft Fair this was an opportunity for craftsmen and women to sell their crafts to the public. I became a QEST scholar in 2007 when I was awarded a sum of money to carry out further research into Elizabethan painted interiors. Hopefully there'll be another show this year. I'll keep you posted.

As for the Dragon; I've been very fond of this dragon wall painting for a while now and as an aside, here's a fresco secco panel I painted recently:
Bagshot Dragon Fresco Secco


Dragon, Pompom and Leaf Cushions
Available uniquely from The General Trading Company. Priced variously between £90 and £185

Bagshot Dragon fresco secco panel
30cm2, £170 from Early Oak Reproductions

Dragonfly Tree fresco secco panel
w122cm x h92cm, £950. Available directly from the Fairlyte Workshop - Contact Melissa:

Friday, 23 July 2010




I'm Melissa White and I established Fairlyte Hand Painted Interiors about eight years ago having been a decorative artist since 1995. I work from my large workshop in Hastings, East Sussex where I hand paint all things decorative for interiors.

I've decided to get this Blog going to replace the newsletters I've been sending out for a few years now. Rather than waiting to build up bits and bobs worthy of a newsletter I think I'd prefer to give shorter snapshots of what I'm up to in Blog form.

I hope that my precious mailing list subscribers will be happy to follow me here instead. If you are new to Fairlyte, may I suggest a quick nosey around my two websites (listed to the right).

I'm excited about how this Blog could develop. To get the ball rolling here are some random shots of my workshop as it stands this week:

Some fresco secco panels of repeat patterns I've been working on.

Piles of vintage linen, a painted swatch of an Elizabethan design & a painted linen cushion

Some off-cuts of Elizabethan painted cloths

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