Interior design scandal: wallpaper bares all

Why not paint a naked body with wallpaper, says artist Emma Hack in an exclusive interview with Annie Deakin

It's not often that naked bodies grace the interior design world. What a welcome change and all thanks to Australian artist Emma Hack who has launched a new book Wallpaper Collections 2005-2010. As extraordinary as it sounds, Hack uses the human body as wallpaper; she paints wallpaper prints onto naked models standing before said wallpaper creating an optical illusion. Her book, of which there are only 1000 copies - all signed - is the culmination of five years' work.

‘No expense has been spared, making it a special collectors piece of my work,' says Hack who describes her work as mixed media. ‘There are three dimensions to the work; the background wallpapers designed by the iconic late Florence Broadhurst, the model that is hand-painted into the design and the final photograph and image that is the result.’

Hack began her career as a children’s face painter and a make-up artist. ‘I studied make-up artistry and my teacher suggested to continue the painting down the human form. The following year, the Demi Moore cover of Vanity Fair was released with Joanne Gair's suit body paint. I didn't know anyone else was doing what I was and it made me realise I could make a career of my dreams.’ Hack's first creations involved painting clothes onto the naked model giving the illusion that the person was dressed. In 2002, she discovered Florence Broadhurst’s wallpapers and started using them in her body art camouflage work; the first took 19 hours; ‘I use predominantly Florence Broadhurst wallpapers, the designs are so easy to pick, they are just gorgeous.’

Like Hack, the late wallpaper artist Florence Broadhurst was an eccentric who abandoned convention with her art. Broadhurst hand-printed hundreds of unique and luxurious wallpapers mixing fuschia pinks, lemon yellows, lime green, vivid oranges and metallics in feminine and botanical patterns. She was murdered in 1977. ‘Each wallpaper has its own different energy and I want the personality and the feminine spirit to come out from it,' says Hack. 'The designs work in all rooms, I love 'Japanese Floral' for a bold feature and 'Cranes' will look amazing in a bedroom as its so gentle.’

One day, Hack hopes to design her own wallpaper having become a keen observer of the wallpaper industry.‘There are a lot of small boutique wallpaper houses appearing with really creative and bold designs and colour themes. It is wonderful that the minimal interior feel of the 2000's is evolving to something very textured, even if monochromatic in some cases. I think people are becoming more adventurous in general with fashion and design. Look at the latest digital prints being created by some of the world top fashion houses, they are incredible.’

Today, each of Hack's projects takes between eight and 15 hours. ‘To create these works, I set up my camera in position first, then my model stands as I hang the wallpaper in position, taking into consideration where I want the pattern to sit over the body.’ Says Hack, ‘I then look through the viewfinder and run over and paint a line of the pattern onto the shoulder line, I then go back to camera and determine where the next line is painted. I repeat this over and over until all the outside 'connections' line up and then I paint the middle of the body.' It's a pain-staking process and the model must stand throughout. ‘Challenges are fatigue, models fainting and general design. Involving animals makes the creation side of the works more difficult, but so beautiful and rewarding.’ Next up is working with owls, birds of prey and peacocks in her art.

Instead of an exact representation of Broadhurst’s wallpaper, Hack is after a painterly feel; ‘I don’t work with stencils or projections allowing me to bring a part of me into the artwork rather than statically doing something that would be so flat and perfectly to Florence.’ To prevent the paint from cracking on the skin, Hack uses a make-up based body paint, similar to stage make-up.

‘I guess I’m something new and original and I pride myself on that. It has been a struggle but what I do is viable, people love it and really, at the end of the day, I’m just happy that people want to put my work on their walls and enjoy it.’ Naked bodies, pretty wallpapers - Hack is a much welcome taboo in the interior design world.

Annie Deakin is interiors writer for sofa and interior design website mydeco.com.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam