Blog menu

Meet The Maker: Duncan Tattersall

Meet The Maker: Duncan Tattersall

I’m an artist and maker from southern Scotland, designing and hand printing bespoke textiles for interiors. My work focuses on the relationship between pattern & place; all of my designs are inspired by a particular location and aim to interpret the story of their surroundings. My curtains are designed and made to commission, and I also print ‘building collage’ cushions inspired by special places which are available to buy or commission individually.


Describe your printmaking process.

I screen print all of my fabric by hand, in a process which remains relatively small scale. I use an A3 screen to repeat my patterns horizontally and vertically across the cloth, producing individual lengths rather than large runs to reduce waste. I print continually and all registration is done by eye, so my fabrics hold the inherent quirks and irregularities of a handmade product I’ve long admired in the work of other printers like Peggy Angus, Jennifer Packer and Christian Smith. To date I have worked solely in single colour, which I embrace as a way of having to distil a design into its simplest, most effective form. 


How and where did you learn to print?

The extent of my formal screen printing tuition dates back to my days in high school, where we touched on the process when I was around 14 and I later printed onto silk for a costume project. Printmaking was absent from my foundation year at Central St Martins, so it wasn’t until after my time there that I began dabbling with print once again alongside fine art practice. I was making sculptural and collage work inspired by ruined buildings at the time, so I returned to screen printing to reproduce historic patterns from fragments of wallpaper I salvaged from decaying interiors. Since then I’ve continued to develop my practice and hone my skills by teaching myself, and have thankfully moved on a little from my early days of printing with paper stencils!


Why printmaking?

My journey into printmaking has been more an evolution than an intentional path, but I think the directness and immediacy of printing appeals to me. The moment of lifting the screen to reveal the image below is always a thrill, if not without the familiar tinge of apprehension. I have long enjoyed working with textiles in various ways so branching into this field of design has been a way of combining my love of architecture and interiors, giving me the opportunity to apply my work to buildings in a way which feels intended and meaningful. As far as different types of printmaking go, I think I have gravitated towards screen as you are never working with the image in reverse, and my brain struggles to invert things!

How do you transfer your designs to your screens for printing?

I most frequently expose my screens photographically, but also sometimes use the drawing fluid & screen block method to put my designs onto them by hand.


Where do you work?

I recently set up a new studio at my home in Lanarkshire, southern Scotland. It’s the biggest room in the house, well lit and with the best view across the garden. My desk is stationed looking down to the burn which runs through the village to meet the Clyde further north, so I can watch the wildlife and seasons shifting as I work.


Describe a typical day in your studio.

I have been out of the studio for most of the past year while studying on the Building Arts Programme – a craft skills course run by the King’s Foundation and QEST – so you find me just getting back into the groove of making my own work again. While on the programme I was lucky to spend time on placement with different designers and craftspeople around the UK, among them Timorous Beasties in Glasgow and Patternmakers in Sussex, which gave me lots of ideas for setting up my new workspace. As I get stuck into projects for the new year, my days will be pretty varied between designing, printing and sewing. I make most of the curtains for my projects myself, so my print table doubles as a sewing bench where I hand stitch my curtains and run up my cushions too. Seeing the entire making process through from start to finish means I am always thinking ahead to facilitate the next task – cutting lengths of fabric ready for printing, mixing batches of ink, coating screens to expose my next designs and preparing curtain linings for sewing in at a later date.


How long have you been printmaking?

I printed my first pair of curtains in 2018, and have got through a few hundred metres since then!


What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration, for as long as I can remember, has been buildings. From visiting castles and stately homes as a child to exploring ruins and abandoned houses through my adolescence, I have always been drawn to old buildings and the stories they have to tell. As I’ve grown older this fascination has developed into a wider appreciation of architecture – old and new, modest and grand alike – and I am ever preoccupied by the intangible atmosphere of the spaces we inhabit. My work gives me chance to explore this notion, whether distilling the essence of a place into a motif for curtains or composing a group of buildings for a cushion design, I hope everything I make can speak of its inspiration and feel in harmony with its surroundings.


What have you made that you are most proud of?

Of all the patterns I have produced to date, my favourite is probably the one I made for Fairburn Tower in the Scottish Highlands last year. Working with this building was such a thrill – I had first visited the tower as a roofless and floorless ruin, so being able to create a textile to furnish its restored interior was really exciting and rewarding. My pattern illustrated the old myth of the Fairburn Calf; a prophecy made by mysterious psychic the Brahan Seer in the seventeenth century. His vision foretold the ruin of the tower, declaring that a cow would give birth in its uppermost chamber, in an unlikely event which is said to have come true in the 1800s. Fittingly my fabric was destined for this very room, so following the route of the cow’s fabled ascent to hang the finished curtains at the top of the tower was an unforgettable full-circle moment.

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

You can see examples of past projects on my website, and also on my Instagram. At the moment I sell direct to my customers, so it’s a case of getting in touch to discuss commissions. I have made a lot of work for buildings preservation charity The Landmark Trust over the past few years, for whose properties I create new designs and also reproduce old patterns from their archives. I'm hoping to be running some print-based activities at one or two of their free public open weekends this year, still in the planning but keep an eye on the Upcoming Events page on their website for further details to be updated soon. 


What will we be seeing from you next?

In 2024 I’ll be accepting more bespoke commissions for curtains and cushions, and I’m also planning to develop a small collection of patterns which will be available for general sale for the first time. Besides these projects I’m also currently working on ideas for the next Landmark Trust property, Calverley Old Hall in West Yorkshire. Here I will be reprinting a historic design based on the Calverley family crest, but also hope to introduce a new pattern inspired by the remarkable Tudor wall paintings rediscovered here behind later plasterwork a couple of years ago.


To see more from Duncan and his exciting projects follow him on Instagram or check out his website.

Back to blog