Panoramic wallpapers, a winter journey through the museum’s landscapes

Julia Pelletier

At Christmastime, the educArt room was full of families creating a landscape together. On average, 35 people every day, adults and children, took part in this proposal devised and conducted by the textiles designer and illustrator Julia Pelletier. The panoramic wallpapers that this workshop created can be seen free of charge in the educArt room until 12th February, during museum opening hours.

One morning I received a call from the museum’s education department. They asked me if I would like to create a workshop for families during the Christmas holidays.

I had a few days to think about what to do.

I felt like occupying the space in the room, generating a large number of paintings that could remain there on view for everyone.

I went back to my book about 18th-century panoramic wallpapers, Papiers peints panoramiques (Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Ed. Flammarion, 1990)

One Monday, the day when it is closed to the public, the museum gave me the chance to see the entire collection. On my own, I strolled around the rooms. It was magical. I decided to take photos of landscapes that I saw in frescoes and paintings from different periods in order to create a workshop based on these images. If you click (PDF – 2MB) you’ll see the works that have inspired me.

Bringing a winter landscape into the museum, creating a window onto the outside world in a predetermined interior, that is what I wanted to achieve. I decided to establish a narrow range of colours that would allow the children and adults to reflect this particular time of year. White, black, grey, phthalocyanine blue, and touches of gold and silver, would be the colours used for painting and drawing.

I started to design large paper panels by mixing the images that I had photographed during my visit to the collections, which I had previously converted to black and white.

“In situ,” we covered the walls with these large sheets of paper, leaving blank spaces so that everyone taking part could work on them.

First day nerves …

A lot of families had come and together we began painting and completing the landscapes that I had composed based on the works of art. The walls of the room were filled with mountains, valleys, flowers, trees, castles, imaginary figures and skies created with paint, wax crayons and pencil lines.

The colours were mixed and created new shades. Old and young, everyone standing, some up a pair of steps, they were all enjoying this moment together in front of the enormous canvas, letting their imaginations run wild and setting their hands free.

The people concentrated, laughed, talked, looked at what they and the others were doing, got close to the wall or stepped back to see what they were all creating together. When people got tired, especially the small children, there was a second task to do in the room: creating a postcard, an object they could take home and which they could show, give or send to someone, a souvenir created from the paintings in the museum on which every child worked to make it their own.

The workshop ended and the people said thank you and left, happy with that time spent one winter morning in the museum.

Now the next workshops awaited me, and seeing how the first panoramic wallpaper had been filled, I decided to work by layers. I again covered the walls with paper but I left some parts of the museum paintings and some of the work done by the families exposed. This would be the starting point for creating a new landscape for each workshop.

We continued …

A different work of art was created every day, full of wonderful details evoking this sought-after landscape.

During the five sessions of the workshop almost 200 kids and grown-ups participated.

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