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Thursday, 27 August 2009

Exhibition: 'Putting on the Glitz - wallpapers and wall coverings with that extra something'
Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester until Nov 09
Star rating 6/10

This exhibition is of special wall coverings which incorporate precious metals from the late 19th century to the present day. I was especially interested in it as I have just finished choosing new wallpaper patterns for my own home. The collection includes sumptuous Japanese gold embossed hand painted patterns from the 19th century, right through to current designs.

A notable inclusion is the Pollyanna design from the mid 1980's which is hand printed large green parrots on foil, and at £68 per roll in 1985 it's not hard to see why most people only used it on a single wall. So our current craze for feature walls (one which I must admit I have recently succumbed to in not one but two rooms), is not a new thing... The metal effect 1984 Copacabana design, with its light reflective undulating pink waves made me smile and took me right back to Gloria Estefan and Miami Vice memories.

Some of the foil designs came with appropriate health and safety advice about not using it near light sockets - with a worrying disclaimer that the manufacturers would not be held responsible for any resulting accidents! Shocking wallpaper indeed.

This is a small but lovely exhibition which shows how we have indulged our desire for opulence (both via the real thing and clever imitations) by way of our wall coverings for generations.

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