Obelisk Marbling and The Director

The spirit of Chippendale lives on! We've teamed up with 2017 Art Fund Museum of the Year, The Hepworth Wakefield, to commission contemporary artist Giles Round to explore Chippendale's legacy and the relationships between art, design and the domestic sphere. 

Obelisk Marbling

At Nostell, Round has taken inspiration from the beautifully marbled paper that Chippendale supplied to line the drawers of clothes presses and provide endpapers for Rowland Winn's historic books. Normally protected from light behind doors and book jackets, these delicate designs have retained their vibrant colours for nearly 300 years.

Artist Giles Round has taken inspiration from the marbled papers Chippendale supplied to line the drawers of Rowland Winn's clothes press
Artist Giles Round looking at the marbled drawer linings supplied by Thomas Chippendale
Artist Giles Round has taken inspiration from the marbled papers Chippendale supplied to line the drawers of Rowland Winn's clothes press

In the entrepreneurial spirit of Chippendale's firm,  Round has created ‘Obelisk Marbling’, a company that produces marbled masterpieces using traditional techniques.

Just as Chippendale’s London premises had custom-made rooms for glass work and wood carving, Round has sourced and created furniture, tools and materials to install a bespoke marbling workshop in the heart of Nostell’s treasure house.  

Where Chippendale built a team of joiners and journeymen, Round has trained up marbling makers to keep the company running throughout 2018 so that from Wednesdays to Sundays, 14 July to 4 November, visitors can see the historic techniques and maybe even have a chance to try marbling themselves.

The bath of carrageen seaweed needs cleaning after each sheet of paper marbled.
Artist Giles Round training apprentice Bridget in paper marbling techniques, Nostell, Wakefield.
The bath of carrageen seaweed needs cleaning after each sheet of paper marbled.

In the 18th century, the craft of marbling was a deeply guarded secret and rarely documented. Artists in different countries used a variety of techniques and methods as technologies and trends changed and these are explored in the Obelisk Marbling workshop at Nostell.

From seaweed and pigments used to colour the water, to combs and brushes used for ‘dragging’ and ‘splattering’, visitors will see the company creating works of art with a range of patterns.

Round imagines,

“With marbled papers of all sorts of colours hanging to dry in the company’s workshop, it will become quite psychedelic”.

Many traditional techniques were used to create different paper designs in the 18th century
Patterned paper supplied by Thomas Chippendale for Nostell, West Yorkshire
Many traditional techniques were used to create different paper designs in the 18th century

Giles Round: The Director

As part of a special collaboration with Nostell, Round also presents an exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, reflecting on the entrepreneurship of Chippendale and responding to an influential exhibition by Helen Kapp staged at the former Wakefield Art Gallery in 1959, Living Today: An Exhibition of Modern Interiors.

Chippendale produced three editions of his famous pattern book of furniture designs
The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
Chippendale produced three editions of his famous pattern book of furniture designs

Taking the name of Chippendale's design catalogue as its title, the exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield has turned the gallery into a domestic showroom that echoes the craftsmanship and entrepreneurship of Thomas Chippendale, and the commercial underpinning of Kapp's Living Today exhibition.