Wallpaper Fragment – Kinkarakawagami

60 Objects Rippon Lea Collection

After Sir Frederick Sargood established a successful political career and remarried, he decided to renovate his home Rippon Lea. Completed in 1890 ca., the interior rooms were decorated with the latest wallpaper fashions.  It has long been speculated that the hall wallpapers at Rippon Lea were of Japanese manufacture. The intricacy of the design and detailed background of striations and differing depths of the embossing showed a masterful hand at work. Sargood had been on the committee of the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1888 – 89, where the company Rottmann Strome and Co exhibited the latest in Japanese papers.  Certainly, as someone involved in the exhibition, and a merchant, Sargood would have been aware of these beautiful wallpapers.

After receiving a generous grant from the Australia Japan Foundation, the National Trust embarked on a project to ascertain if the papers were indeed Japanese.  A materials analysis was performed to determine what the fibres were made from. A comparison was made between the fibres of a Japanese paper from Labassa, imported by Rottmann, Strome and Co., and the Rippon Lea paper.  The analysis proved that the materials were a close match, showing the presence of kozo – mulberry wood pulp – and a layer of tin. We could finally say that the wallpaper was Japanese.

After many years of searching the globe to find a craftsperson to recreate a section of the wallpaper, The Kinkarakami Institute of Tokyo, Japan, have been commissioned to make a missing section of the paper at Rippon Lea.

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