Hidden in Plain View: Wallpapers in Britain & Ireland

How did Chinese wallpaper influence the history of British interiors? National Trust expert Emile de Bruijn explored this topic in detail from Chinese bird and flower designs to landscapes to daily life scenes. This talk focused on how these very traditional images were adapted for the western palate. Symbolism is abundant in Chinese art and Emile explained some of the different meanings behind each motif. Emile also looked at the history of wallpaper in China itself to contrast with the West. The audience were shown examples of the presence of traditional Chinese wallpaper at official meetings and ‘Anglicised’ Chinese interior decoration found in European homes. So the next time you come across a Chinese inspired piece of wallpaper, you might take a closer look to see the story within it.