Grand Illusions

grandillusionDecorative interior painting constitutes a significant chapter in North Carolina’s rich architectural heritage. Approximately 500 buildings in the state contain surviving examples of this charming art form, from the late eighteenth century through the twentieth century. Many popular contemporary ornamental techniques are based on these original designs.

Grand Illusions, curated by architectural historian Laura Phillips of Winston-Salem, takes the viewer on a fascinating journey through North Carolina ‘s decorative tradition.

Surviving examples of each of the major types of decorative painting created since the 1700s include elaborate stenciling and trompe l’oeil painting used on the ceilings and interiors of Coolmore, built in 1859 near Tarboro, and marbled, stone-blocked and smoked painting popular in the 19th century.

Twenty-two framed panels include samples showing how certain styles are created. Visitors will see the final results of techniques such as “wood graining” (a procedure to make indigenous wood look like more exotic woods), “marbling” (making wood look like marble), stenciling and many other faux-painting schemes.

Grand Illusions presents excellent opportunities for a workshop on how to create faux finishes, a popular topic with the public.

Previous Venues: Meredith College, Greensboro Historical Museum, and Museum of the Albemarle.

  • Participation Fee: $600
  • Exhibition Period: 10 to 12 weeks (negotiable)
  • Space Required: 100 linear feet
  • Number of Panels: 22
  • Shipping: Soft-pack