Homefront: Screen Play

It was more than the luck of the draw that led Nick Rye to paint the larger- than-life images that decorate his panel

It was more than the luck of the draw that led Nick Rye to paint the larger-than-life images that decorate his panel folding screens. Many of the scenes are reproductions from the 1760 Tarots of Marseilles deck.

Standing next to the gallant Knight of Cups silhouetted against a bright blue background makes Rye feel like he’s fallen down the rabbit hole. “It’s kind of an Alice in Wonderland thing,” he says. “It’s striking to see something you hold in your hand blown up to this size.”

Rye first started making the screens in his native London while he was working as a scenic artist. One day he thought to himself, “Wouldn’t it be cool to do this in someone’s front room?” On his first screen he painted a hungry yellow lion swallowing a forlorn-looking sun. He copied the image from an old alchemy text filled with illustrations, enlarging it to stretch over four wooden panels that span 6.5 feet.

When Rye moved to Philadelphia, he settled into an Old City loft. “It made sense to start working on the screens again,” he says. His clients find that they’re a perfect solution for loft living, adding an instant dash of drama.

With their saturated colors and dreamlike illustrations, these screens are bold enough to play to the balcony. And they even come with a punch line.
“Alchemy and tarot are to do with transformation and change,” says Rye. “And what do you do behind a screen? You change.”

Nick Rye, Philadelphia, www.nickrye.com