Friday, 15 July 2011

A Rather Bizarre Teddy Bear's Picnic

In preparation for our museum move, we're busy making sure that all our wallpapers, textiles and other objects are safely stored in their correct boxes, and ready to go. Today I put away two of arguably the most garish wallpapers in our collection, which had been in conservation, and I thought I'd share them.

Wallpaper designed by Anthony Paine for Osbourne & Little in 1977, 80cm x 100cm (BADDA4246)

The design shows teddy bears having a picnic, and is aimed at children.  But the opinion among MoDA staff is that the rather shocking colour-ways make these wallpapers quite eerie!

Personally, whenever I see them I can't helping thinking of a bizarre teddy bear version of Manet's Le dejeuner sur 'herbe of 1863. It's something about the group sitting in the clearing and the slightly odd treatment of space caused by the framing of the trees I think.

Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, BADDA4246-2

The samples are unusually wide at 80cm and had previously been stored rolled up, making it awkward to get them out to view. In preparation for the move they were identified as part of a group of interesting wallpapers that should be flattened and placed in conservation sleeves in order to make them more accessible and easier to handle. This means that come MoDA's re-launch in October, anyone can book an appointment to come and see these gems in all their glory at the new Collections Centre.

We'd love to hear what you think of them. Would you hang either of these in your child's bedroom? Would you have wanted them in your room when you were a child? Let us know in the comments!


  1. The first colour-way is maybe a bit dull for children and the second one is a bit weird - why make the trees blue?! However that said I love the drawings of the trees themselves especially in the darker colour-way.
    Just discovered your blog & really enjoying it thanks!

  2. Hi Kathryn, we're glad you're enjoying the blog! And yes you're right - the trees are really beautiful actually. I was so distracted by the bears that I hardly noticed them at first but they are interesting, especially when you consider that when the wallpaper was hung in a room, they would probably appear as quite prominent vertical stripes.

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