Textile printer Sahara Dalley from PapaTotoro discusses how the work of the Pre-Raphaelites influences her own craft.

William Morris, Cray Textile, 1883-4

William Morris, Cray Textile, 1883–4

My interest is with textiles as I am a textile printer who uses only hand block printing methods.

The Paradise Room in the Pre-Rapaelite exhibition houses an incredibly imposing and dramatic piece – a ceiling to floor length block printed textile panel; The Cray one of Morris` last designs produced at Merton Abbey from 1884. A resplendent and complex floral repeat, featuring large scale lush blooms reminiscent of peonies set within an intricate background of intertwined foliage and stems.

This ornate piece incorporates the most beautiful palette of pinks, corals and greens with detail in black and yellow and there is almost a hand painted quality to the dyes upon the fabric.

I admire and am in awe of the level of craftsmanship purely by hand and eye involved in this piece.

Subtle areas of colour overlap are visible when closely scrutinised. Such ‘imperfections’ of handmade heighten the beauty of the piece. The level of precision in alignment and composition of this piece is breathtaking. Even more so when I discover it took thirty-four separate print blocks to create it.

Now I come away from this exhibition with a renewed appreciation of hand block printing as a method.

I have spent many years feeling varying degrees of frustration and elation as I go through the trials and tribulations of creating textiles in what would be described as an old fashioned and limited method of fabric printing. It is handmade on a very physical level and means subtle imperfections of human “endeavour” are obvious in the piece of work you get. Yet this very unique and handmade characteristic of the work brings a further appreciation of the time and workmanship within an item.

These beautifully crafted items that have the (sometimes imperfect) hand of the maker obvious within it give these items a unique value above the mass produced.

Sahara Dalley from PapaTotoro is a textile printer who specialises in block printing and is influenced by traditional Japanese and Indonesian printmaking techniques and folklore. You can see her work at Late at Tate Britain on Friday 7 December 2012.