David Skinner wallpaper

When I was born, my Dad worked at a wallpaper factory.

Perhaps it's one of those memories transplanted from a photograph, but I have vivid memories of the wallpaper that hung in my bedroom then, a brown damask. I remember lying in my cot and seeing faces in it, grotesque gargoyles staring at me. And my blanket was orange and this would have been the late 70's when all decor was brown and orange and avocado green.

Our town was Kildare and the factory was Kildare Wallpaper, built in 1936 and closed when I was two, or three. On my birth certificate, which I looked at last weekend, Dad's "rank or profession" is listed as Works Manager.

A few night's ago, via Ben's blog, I came across a link to David Skinner, an Irish wallpaper-maker. Ben has the Malahide pattern hanging in his Dorset hallway and I have admired it often. I love the patterns in Skinner's range, inspired by - and named after - so many Irish country houses that we visited as children. And I began to wonder if, when we visited those houses, Dad noticed the papers and the colourways. Or maybe wallpaper was all machines and measurements, volumes and quality control to him.

There are little moments when I think of my parents stripped of all their parenthood and more like the young people they were then, the same age as me now, really. And I suppose it's because I love decor that it's striking to think of Dad with patterns and colours whizzing by him, finally cut into rolls and shipped around Europe. The same papers that hung in our house and in the houses of all our friends in that town. They must have felt proud.

Until the factory closed and most of us moved away.

David Skinner Wallpapers
Patterns: Dorothea | Tulip | Edenderry | Kilkenny


  1. Love your family-related posts. Also love the second and last patterns/colours.

  2. I've witnessed so much self indulgent, narcissistic and badly written blog posts of late. So much so that I came running over here to you tonight Jane. Like being in a stiffling room, full of noise and babble pressing down on me and needing to open the window wide and let the fresh cold night air - that is you - blow life and vitality into an otherwise rattling void. You've no idea how unique you are. You really don't. And this post. The reflections in it...I too am now wondering did your Dad notice all the things that you would notice in those old country house hallways...I'm betting he did. And how evocative I find your recollection of lying in your small bed and seeing the gargoyles and the grotesque patterns in the wallpaper. Reading this I am instantly transported to my grandparents terraced house on a narrow street in Sligo town - my sister and I lying in the double bed in the box room, and the light from the street lamps illuminating the various sections of the horse and hound themed wallpaper in that little room...and it feels good...and calm...and simple and lovely.


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