In Conversation with Joy Huning: Recreating the early 17th century wall painting at the Weald & Downland Museum

Wallpainting in Reigate Weald & Downland Museum, recreated from the original early C17th fragments found in the room.

In the early 1990’s Joy Huning recreated an early 17th century scheme on two walls in an upper room in Reigate at the Weald and Downland Museum.

Original areas of painting had been uncovered when Reigate was moved to the museum from no.43 the High Street in Reigate.

The brief given to Joy was that the painting should be created in the same way that the original painter might have painted it. Often when recreating a wall painting one carefully traces the original to make sure that an accurate copy is recreated. Here the brief was different and Joy was to ‘turn up as the original painter might have, with pots of paint and start painting’.

This involved quite some research. To start with Joy wanted to use traditional materials in the recreation and settled on size paints. The museum did not have the funds for paint analysis so research was carried out into the pigments being used at that time and local iron oxides used for the reds and yellows. At this point Joy got interested in the trade routes and where the pigments were coming from. It is fascinating how a project such as this can lead you to all sorts of research and investigation.

For the design, Joy spent 4 days working on large wall size sheets of paper in the room, looking at the original and painting to get the shapes and handwriting right. Joy says that over these 4 days members of the museum staff would visit on passing and wonder why she was still painting on the floor and not on the wall. They were rather bemused by it all.

I can completely understand the need to this amount of time to practise and to try to get into the painterly flow of the original painter. Often, however hard one tries to copy someone else’s work, ones own hand writing can creep in  and it really takes time to fully absorb the original painter’s design, shapes and style of the brushstrokes.

Joy spent a lot of time finding the most suitable brushes which would create the right marks. She still has some of these brushes in her collection.


Joy Huning who recreated the Reigate early 17th century wall painting at the Weald & Downland Museum.

Meet Joy Huning who painted the recreation of this design. A very talented painter. Now retired to her own studio by the sea and creating her own paintings at last.

Image from 2018 showing the recreated paintings in Reigate, Weald and Downland Museum. It has not lost any of its depth of colour having been painted 25 years ago.

The image above shows the room as it is now with tables and chairs ready for meetings. It shows the two walls that were painted by Joy Huning. On the fireplace surround there are original fragments of painted decoration.

This must have been a wonderful project to work on and its always a privilege to be asked to work on these exciting paintings.

For more images follow the link