Rachel Spelling

2020 QEST Sanderson Design Co. Scholar - Decorative Painting

Rachel designs and paints murals and has developed her own range of custom-printed mural wallpaper. She is particularly interested in the techniques of 18th century Chinese artisans who produced continuous panoramas for Western markets. Though not widely practiced in the UK today, these chinoiserie techniques have influenced Rachel’s original work and she is interested in reinterpreting this rich visual tradition to develop a new, contemporary aesthetic.

In 2017 Rachel worked with master historic decorative painter, Alasdair Peebles, to recreate the lost Chinese wallpaper that once hung in the upper drawing room of Sir John Soane’s country house Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing. Her QEST Scholarship will fund specialist one-to-one training with Alasdair in his London studio, with a focus on mastering traditional 18th century chinoiserie painting techniques. She will also spend time with QEST Scholar Melissa White learning about working large scale in print.

Images: Pitzhanger Manor wallpaper was created by Rachel Spelling, Alasdair Peebles & Nicky Pasterfield.

I’m interested in the dual capacity of wallpaper to take centre stage in a room, and to act as a silent backdrop to everything that takes place in that space. It has the power to completely alter a place, a mood or an atmosphere, which I find very exciting. With the support of QEST, I’m keen to take my painting skills to the next level and expand my repertoire of decorative effects, to produce wallpaper designs of unlimited ambition.