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THE WORLD OF INTERIORS FRUITS OF HER PNOeL eee CECE n Ung eset ominrmere teem eect museum for vernacular buildings, Prana rere marr oercoy ec inaall kinds of ways, as Timothy B corr ren crt Par ODE aR eK ces IT WAS NOT LONG aftershehad graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1995 that Melissa White returned hhome to Hastings and attended the town’s annual Jack-in-the-Green pagan festival It was here that she meta man who opened her eyes oa new world. Not with the black arts, but with a set of paintbrushes and antique pigments. He was David Cutmore, a carpenter and builder who had begun to develop an informed interest in the Medieval and Tudor wall paintings he encountered while restoring pubs and restau- rants. Over time he also acquired considerable practical and historical know-how, and soon afterwards the pair designed floor-to-ceiling painted clothsforfourroomsat Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford ‘upon-Avon, using historical sourcesand methods. Since then Melissa has developed unrivalled expertisein the field of Tudor cloth and wall painting, applying her research and techniques to 4 range of fabrics and soft furnishings. Ifanyone is under the impression that historical wall and fabric painting merely occupy a dusty corner of museology, they should think again. Melissa's latest project, a painted cloth for the restored Bayleat hall house atthe Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, isboth a startling visual experience and an exciting introduction to how Tudor England celebrated life and art The museum at Singleton, just north of Chichester in Susses buildings dating from the Tudor period onwards that have been rescued from demolition. It was the brainchild of Roy Armstrong, who saw fine old timber-framed homes destroyed for modern devel- ‘opment. The destruction of three unique houses as par ofthe crea- tion of Crawley New Town was the catalyst, and the museum opened tothe publicin 1970. ‘Toappreciate Melissa's work, i's worth spendinga moment totake inits architectural setting. Bayleaf was the first large building to be re- stored at Downland. Inhabited up to 1968, itwasthen dismantled for the Bough Beech reservoir in west Kent and erected on itsnew ste four years late, Today one comes acrossit ‘by surprise, from behind a> is acollection of reassembled vernacular From top: jetied upper storeys either side of a double-height hall identify Bayleaf atypical Wealden house from East Sussex or west Kent; red pomegranates, symbols of both fecundity and royalty fll he fiieze of the cloth painting. On the table are modem reproductions of contemporary plates and vessels; a view thre antennae