When Robert Baty opened the doors of Papers and Paints on the 1st of September 1960 he couldn’t have predicted the future of his shop, or how his son Patrick would go on to become one of the foremost authorities on architectural paint and colour. Papers and Paints is now celebrating its 56th year in the same premises on Park Walk, just off the Fulham Road in Chelsea.
Patrick recalls sitting on the front counter at Papers and Paints aged four. After a career in the Army he returned to the shop in 1981 and began to learn about paint and colour from his father. Fascinated by what could be achieved with paint he mastered the techniques of broken-colour work and was soon asked to edit Jocasta Innes’ Paint Magic. Thus began a long career in editing and revising influential works on paint. He then completed an academic degree in the methods and materials of the early housepainter in order to gain an understanding of the decoration of historic buildings and has been working in that field ever since.
The perfectionist approach seen in Papers and Paints and their facility with colour matches, meant Patrick was soon in demand from larger paint companies. He was employed by Dulux and The Little Greene Paint Company (in conjunction with English Heritage) to create new ranges based on colours from 1700 to the 1950s. In addition to providing expert advice as Papers and Paints, the last two decades have seen Patrick employed as a consultant on over two hundred projects in Grade 1 and 2* listed buildings throughout the United Kingdom and a number of key buildings in the United States. These have ranged from advising on the appropriate paint colours for buildings of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, to a full technical analysis of the painted decoration in order to establish the original/earlier colour schemes.
The majority of Patrick’s time is now spent as a historic paint consultant, sampling paint layers on buildings, bridges and architectural details to produce a forensic history of the decoration from creation to the present day. Paint sampling is coupled with microscopy to reveal the history of a painted surface. He has worked everywhere from Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to Queen Charlotte’s Cottage at Kew, and even Tower Bridge. Some buildings are in need of total restoration after a disaster, some simple redecoration. Other projects involve being part analyst, part historian and part detective to establish the built history of a house, detailing what each room looked like over the course of time. Frequently he is employed purely as an advisor on appropriate paint and colour in buildings of all ages.
Patrick’s active role in both the history and future of many historic British buildings has seen him become a leader in the field of paint, colour and their associated histories.