Crafted with passion

Sarah Jane Palmer is an artist with a passion for illusion and fantastical storytelling. From the historical Nottingham lace trade to the romance of the circus, her designs for wallpaper, prints and textiles draw from her practice, and her tales all come with a twist.

“What I love is that I can create stories that a glance could miss, but that a second take might reveal. It makes a space a more interesting place to be, when it keeps showing you something new.”

Sarah Jane Palmer

She is passionate about the importance of developing precision skills by hand, and is a voracious student, constantly adding to a bank of finessed techniques, such as hand-flocking (taught to her by specialists Kiwo, in Frankfurt) and building her own screen printing press and studio in Sheffield, England. Handmaking is such an important element of her design – it adds a second layer to that story, and creates elements of human touch that give people more to look at, discover, wonder about…

Sarah has experimented with designing and printing wallpapers and wall art since 2003. In 2004 she graduated with a BA (Hons) Degree in Painting and Printmaking, and in 2013 received a Master’s Degree in Fine Art with distinction. ‘Amoret’ was developed shortly after that, a range of subtly erotic wall-art designs, showing what at first appeared to be wonderfully crafted pattern-work, “It’s amazing how different patterns can be drawn upon, both through history and through actual artwork. I often get immersed in how things look from one angle and then if you glance at them again they can look completely different. I am passionate about the importance of developing precision and skills by hand, and I love to merge both modern and historically traditional techniques,” and on closer inspection revealed a naughty little story. And that was the start of something special…

“I love that old-fashioned ‘veil’ over everything. The Victorians loved the erotic, and they were so artful in disguising it. The more I explored how the erotic manifested historically, the more playful I found we’ve always been, even centuries ago, and how creatively we’ve used art to tell sensuous tales and to titillate and entertain.”

Sarah Jane Palmer

It’s not all about the erotic though – but there is something human, very earthly, in everything – simple but beautiful, every day but extraordinary. She draws inspiration from sources including the UK’s wallpaper archives at the Whitworth Gallery, and recently from a year-long research residency in the place her great-great-grandfather worked 100 years ago as a lace designer, helped by the wonderful exhibits at the Nottingham Lace Archive. Future work will involve collaborations with other archive collections, such as The National Fairground Archive and The British Archives in London.

None of Muriel’s designs would be possible without the kind help of Kiwo, flocking experts in Frankfurt and Anaglypta, supporters and suppliers of a range of recycled paper pulp and strong high-quality fibre-based papers.