A Celebration of the work of Walpole Champneys

24 Sep 2016 - 30 Oct 2016

Experience the sketches and colour designs of Walpole Champneys; the original Interior Consultant at Dreamland in 1934/5 as part of Margate Festival Sight Seeking between 10 and 25 September 2016 and continuing on to coincide with East Kent Open Houses from 15 to 30 October 2016.

Walpole Champneys (1879 to 1961) was an artist, designer and colourist, most significantly of the Art Deco period and was commissioned by notable architects of the day to design interior colour schemes, mural panels and textile hangings for new leisure and entertainment public buildings, including The Regent, Brighton (1921), The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (1932) and our own Grade II* listed Dreamland Cinema and Sunshine Café (1935) here in Margate.

Walpole Champneys was the commissioned Interior Consultant for the Dreamland Cinema building.  He worked closely with the architects, Julian Leathart and FW Grainger, at a time when sumptuous interior decoration was the norm; the Dreamland Cinema is an important example of the contemporary mood.  In the Swedish Grace style, the work has both art deco and constructivist influences and reflects the immersive experience on cinema-going as an ‘other world’ event of the 1920s and 30s.

Walpole Champneys is credited with the decorative scheme within the Dreamland Cinema building and a report from the Prince’s Regeneration Trust (2009) describes the following:

The entrance hall had jade green walls with Indian red and silver accentuation.  The tops of the solid balustrades were finished in polished black Belgian marble, whilst the circular entrance hall had a blue ceiling with decoration picked out in silver.  This hall and the first floor foyer were furnished with pink carpets and blue settees.

This colour palette is repeated throughout many of Champneys’ works, including newly realised scarf collection and the designs Jenny Duff has developed alongside Walpole Champneys’ grand-daughter to create this colourful decorative range of table mats.

The fine silk scarf patterns have been selected from a portfolio of Design Studies in the Walpole Champneys’ archive.  The original designs which were intended as a colour and design source (rather like a painter’s sketchbook) provide a decorative guide and inspiration for schemes for interiors, furnishing fabrics, carpets, curtains, rugs, tiles and now scarves, as well as the tablemats recently produced by Jenny Duff.

Thanet District Council have recently announced the appointment of local contractors Coombs to lead on the restoration of the cinema entrance foyer and Sunshine Café at Dreamland, funded by Coastal Communities Fund.  The work will include repairing the original building fabric and ‘fin’, replacing windows, roofing, installation of a lift, new external signage and neon lighting, as well as bringing Sunshine Café back to life as a new restaurant for Margate.  Restoration of the foyer to it’s original 1930s design is planned, with new brass hand rails, metal entrance doors and bespoke lighting.

Bernie Pendle, Director of Dreamland Trust says

‘The Dreamland Trust is delighted to lend the Walpole Champneys collection, part of our archive, to The Lombard Street Gallery. We hope it will attract many people to see it. It is a key part of Margate’s heritage. With the refurbishment of the cinema now started, the Trust (whose role it is to preserve Dreamland’s heritage) sees a welcome, renewed interest in Margate’s seafront.’