Newly woven silken wall coverings by Humphries Weaving can be viewed in the royal collections recently refurbished ‘Cumberland Art Gallery’ at Hampton Court Palace. The silks may not be quite as important as the paintings that they showcase, but for its moire fabric suppliers on the Essex/Suffolk boarder, it represents the skill of the most experienced textile artists and is testament to the craft by which they are bound.
Eighteen months ago the Humphries Weaving Company in Sudbury, Suffolk began the exacting task of colour selection for the walling of the gallery. Humphries was no stranger to the decorative schemes and textures at the Palace having been deeply involved in restoration projects over the past thirty eight years. This time the cloth shades of both crimson and blue were matched to earlier archive samples. The silk thread was processed and dyed to match precisely these historic shades and then finely woven at the firms Sudbury Silk Mills.
To finish the cloth the unique Moiré patterning was embossed onto the surface under huge pressure, using steam filled rollers, just as it would have been in the reign of King William III. Humphries Weaving are one of the only moire fabric suppliers left in the UK who are still able to achieve this unique finish, with the dazzling effect offering a non-repeating water mark which freely flows across the cloth. This luxurious fabric is then stretched onto the walls with great skill, as seen in the picture below. The result is a remarkable unique pattern which shimmers in the light as one walks around the galleries.
The Cumberland Art Gallery at Hampton Court Palace is now open to the public and demonstrates that a truly fitting backdrop to showcase internationally significant fine art can still be “Made in Britain.”
Photo Credit: Historic Royal Palaces