With great trepidation we set off to visit Marthe Armitage, eminent woodblock artist. She was the first artist we approached with our mural idea, and we had no idea what to expect. She lives in an airy house, with big windows over her garden, at an angle of the road at Strand-on-the-Green. We nervously sat down to show her our (very rudimentary) ideas, and she said, “Yes, fine.” We were all prepared with a longer explanation, so our breath was taken away by her swift and relaxed agreement.
“Would you like to take the work with you now?” she asked. Sarah demurred politely, Karen said yes. “Would you like to visit my studio?” We both said yes. Marthe’s studio is two doors down from her house, up an open metal staircase to a small functional, beautifully organised room, dominated by a huge press and an art chest of drawers stuffed with her gorgeous woodprints. We closed our open mouths and gleefully accepted our first images – a green version and a blue version of her Chiswick House prints – for the mural.
It all seemed so perfect. The house on the river – the garden full of mature trees. The studio, the printing press, the floral works of art, the artist at the height of her powers. We went away excited and encouraged.