The golden chamber wallpaper

Lindy Richardson (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


The bone wall, inhumane use of remains as decoration. This artwork exists to incite ethical and moral questions related to a jumble of human bones decorating a chapel in Cologne. Purported to be those of 5th century Saint Ursula and her virgin companions, the bones currently pinned to the walls in Saint Ursula’s appear to have become dehumanised by their presentation.

Creating wallpaper is an unusual way of presenting this type of historical research and resulting questions, an old story portrayed to a new audience in a different way.

The challenge of interpretation of the existing bone lined chapel is double pronged:-
Is it ethical to pin human bones to a wall as decoration?
And whose bones are they anyway?

The provenance of bones can now be explored scientifically by osteoarcheoligists. A recent BBC documentaries followed University of Leicester researchers, studying the attribution of bones under a council car park pertained to be those of Richard III. The discovery and analysis of the skeleton incited emotional response, and highlighted the care and dignity afforded in the handling of the human remains from exhumation through scanning and analysis and eventual plans for appropriate reburial. This research project aimed not to establish facts, but to entice visitors to question, raising awareness of the inhumane spectacle which these bones within the golden chamber have become. It is simply attempting to illustrate the story, nor dispel the myth, but to create critical wallpaper, as a focal talking point. The work is questioning the ethics of the wall coverings within this sacred but public place. By placing the piece outside the chapel, the work can be interpreted in a secular setting. Their still remains a friction between textual and non-textual research, between digital and analogue artworks. This work uncomfortably challenges both.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • wallpaper, exhbition, saints,narrative,collage

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