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Student sets up her own business selling wallpaper that tells a story

A student has set up her own business selling her wallpaper designs that are inspired by the dark history of arsenic.

Lucy Bentley
Lucy Bentley, BA Decorative Arts

Lucy Bentley, a Decorative Arts student from Nottingham Trent University, has created multiple wallpaper designs by taking inspiration from historical themes.

Once commonly used in wallpaper by designer William Morris in the 1800s, after many died from mystery illnesses it was later discovered that his arsenic-infused wallpapers were to blame.

One of Lucy’s designs features the poisonous plant Henbane, also known as nightshade. According to legend, witches would make an ointment using henbane and then rub it on the handles of their brooms, allowing them to fly.

Lucy, 23, of Ilkeston, said: “I want my designs to be a talking point and tell a story. I never intended them to blend into the background. I’m so excited at the prospect of starting my own business and I would be so proud to see my designs hung in homes.”

Aimed towards the high-end market, Lucy envisions her wallpaper designs being used for feature walls in residential homes or boutique hotels.

Her designs will be available to purchase from her own business ‘Hex and Henbane’ that she created during her final year at university. Lucy’s brand will sell wallpapers, home textiles and home furnishing and aims to compete with the likes of Timorous Beasties and House of Hackney.

Wallpaper 1
One of Lucy’s designs

Lucy’s designs are set to go on public display at Show, Nottingham Trent University’s Art and Design Degree Show 2019. The launch of the degree show on May 31 coincides with the official launch of her business.

“All the opportunities you get through the degree show you’ll never get given again – I’m able to use it as free promotion for myself and my business,” says Lucy.

The Show will feature works by more than 1,300 graduating artists across 26 courses. Representing a new wave of talent – skilled and ready to shape our future creative industries.

Pip Spoerry, Head of Visual Arts at Nottingham Trent University, said; “Lucy has taken an original approach to her wallpaper designs, illustrating the dark history of Arsenic in a creative and thought-provoking way.”

“She has designed something unique that has the power to capture her audience and generate conversation. I wish her all the best with her business and look forward to seeing her future designs.”

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    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students. NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 88% satisfaction score in the 2018 National Student Survey.

    NTU is also one of the UK’s most environmentally friendly universities, containing some of the sector’s most inspiring and efficient award-winning buildings.

    NTU is home to world-class research, and won The Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015 – the highest national honour for a UK university. It recognised the University’s pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage; enable safer production of powdered infant formula; and combat food fraud.

Student sets up her own business selling wallpaper that tells a story

Published on 31 May 2019
  • Subject area: Art and design
  • Category: Current students; School of Art & Design

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