Sarah Hardacre + Surface Print

The Museum of Wallpaper, 2018

Five tonnes of industrial machinery appeared in the centre of Blackburn as part of Sarah Hardacre’s ambitious residency. The disused Surface Print wallpaper machine – invented in Darwen in 1838 – was an important development in the fabrication of wallpaper. Sarah arranged for the rusting machine to be shot blast and powder coated in a symbolic yellow pigment, transforming heritage machinery into art work.

The installation titled ‘Grace’, named after the wife of Charles Potter – one of the pioneers of the original Surface Print machine, was a startling feat of reappropriation, referencing our manufacturing history via Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s groundbreaking text ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ in a monumental public art work. This dialogue between heritage and contemporary art work was continued in her exhibition, ‘The Museum of Wallpaper,’ where archival images, objects, videos and custom printed wallpapers created an immersive journey through the industrial and social histories of wallpaper manufacturing in Lancashire.

“The key thing about the project here is that it’s all been about heritage and the history of machine printed wallpaper and how it relates to this area. Working with archives and within the historical context, that was what became really exciting, looking at how this process can be traced all the way back to 1838.”

Sarah Hardacre


Sarah Hardacre is a visual artist and printmaker, and is currently Fine Art Facilitator on the BA(hons) Fine Art course at University Centre Blackburn College. With a portfolio that spans collage, silkscreen print, large-scale installations, murals, performance and projections, Sarah’s work investigates the development of the Welfare State and the histories of the Working Class and Women’s Rights movements. Her work is regularly exhibited internationally and is included in the public collections of the British Museum and British Council and private collections worldwide including Damien Hirst’s Murderme collection in London. Sarah is represented by Paul Stolper gallery London.

Surface Print are known as the industry leaders for manufacturing the highest quality, innovative wallpapers. The fourth-generation family-run company form a proud part of Lancashire’s storied heritage of wallpaper printing and have, over the past three decades, produced wallpapers for a host of influential & well-known brands.  The factory blends traditional knowledge and craftsmanship with cutting edge design and innovation to create high end, luxury wallcoverings. Building on the success of Surface Print, Managing Director James Watson and his sister, Abigail Watson, launched their own brand of luxury wallpapers, 1838 Wallcoverings.


“We’re proud to be working with Sarah Hardacre, an artist based in Manchester. Sarah has developed a practice that uses traditional techniques, from print to textiles, to reflect on how popular culture, the built environment and architecture has influenced and continues to shape communities.”

Surface Print


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