‘Craft’ is a broad term. It encompasses a myriad of disciplines and numerous techniques. It might be hand-made or machine guided. It might start life as a utilitarian object before becoming a historical artefact. Craft is always evolving. But something all crafts have in common is tactility. Through acts of weaving, sculpting, stitching, layering, piecing together and unravelling, craft foregrounds its own materiality and invites us to enter into it, touch it, live with it…
Touch is explored in Briony Hughes’s ONE PORTION LIES REVERSED, which brings to life archival documents in a book that is creased to reveal and conceal different information. Our hands are invited to unfold different elements to create an interactive dialogue with the original letters used as source material. For example, uncovering a letter from Virginia Woolf to Gladys Easdale mimics the way that Easdale would have handled the letter, opening the envelope before peeling back the paper down carefully creased folds. From carefully unfolding to ripping it all up, Izzie Beirne’s collage work explores how beauty cultures merge with porn industries, and questions the effect this has on self-perceptions. For our new feature ‘Practice-Based’, Izzie tells us in her own words about her methods, using a heat press to imprint the collages before folding and scrunching the fabric they’re printed onto.
In Nadja Gabriela Plein’s artist statement she writes: ‘I work with my fingers, with brushes, paper towels, silicon shapers, sand paper… I work with oil paint, pencils, colour pencils, crayons, oil sticks’. Plein maneuvers a myriad of materials as she pushes and pulls the colours with her hands over the canvases. The physicality of her artwork is reflected on in her essay for this issue, as she questions the gendered adjectives we apply to the simple movement of the brushstroke. In her article, she calls for a ‘radical non-essentialism’ that might untangle gender from the materials and artistic actions used by artists. Sharon Haward picks up on a similar tension between the masculine/feminine and how this dynamic plays out materially in her interview with Jade French. Haward’s practice explores the ‘contrast between rigid structures and fluid forms’ and the recent project HOMEWORK filtered this through an exploration of women architects, contrasting Le Corbusier’s, concept of architecture as a “machine for living” with Eileen Gray’s personal take on the role of architecture as a “protective shell against the world”.
Emma West’s review of the recent exhibition Fifty Works by Fifty British Women Artists 1900-1950, curated by Sacha Llewellyn, highlights the ways women artists used varied materials from painting and collage to woodcuts and sculpture. Drawing on her own research interests in women muralists from the first half of the twentieth century, West suggests that through knowledge exchanges and teaching networks, materials were passed down by women through specific traditions. As a public art, murals alter the texture of the shared built environment. They become a part of the community and the very creation of these large-scale works is a labour-intensive, collaborative process. Like craft, public art intervenes in everyday life, bringing us closer to art’s textures, materials, and forms; yet this closeness and familiarity can lead to neglect and a failure to understand the complex cultural and sociopolitical power structures that underpin this work.In an exploration of contemporary attitudes to public art, artistMartina Morger and writer Isabelle Thul ask how we can care for public sculptures made by women artists in ‘Cleaning Her.’ (2018). This concept was initially developed for an open call by the sculpture park Graz last year, a place where only 15.3% of the installed artworks are by female artists. This piece, finally performed in Glasgow, highlights women’s labour (paid and unpaid), as well as the attention that must go into caring for materials laid bare to the elements.
In an article considering craft’s disruptive role in contemporary art, Katarina Kelseydemonstrates that craft objects are always in the process of becoming: ‘with ceramics there’s an oozing; in textiles there’s a fray’. We are implicated in this intensely physical process, our lives and bodies unfolding, being constantly stitched together, unpicked and repaired, alongside the art object. Craft is close to us, occupying space in our homes, against our skin, but its place in the market economy as well as in the lasting colonial legacies that allow museums to co-opt indigenous art, can also speak of alienation and violence. Craft can cause discomfort, laying bare troubling questions: as Julia Bryan Wilson reminds us, ‘some [craft] is vastly undervalued but central to the mechanisms of capitalism, while some is triumphed as ‘revolutionary’ and posited as a form of economic refusal.’ Multimedia artist Enam Gbewonyo strikingly explores the permeable boundary between closeness and estrangement present in man-made objects; in her art and performances, she works with tights to reveal how textiles enclose us in ways that can be protective or alienating, depending on gendered and racialised power structures.
What kind of future can we imagine for design materials? That’s a question posed by a special issue journal ‘Other Biological Futures’. Our review explores the different articles, as well as how the practical meets conceptual; from shrinking humans, to decolonising edibility, and molecular time machines. From mushroom leathers to DNA dyes, the makers, curators, and scientists featured in the journal are all thinking through the way the materials of the planet might ‘better’ our lives.
In 2015, the novelist Kamila Shamsie issued a provocative call to arms to publishers: let’s make 2018 the Year of Publishing Women. What would happen, Shamsie asked, if publishers refused to publish any books by men during the centenary of women’s suffrage in 2018? In the end, only one publisher took up her challenge: the indie publisher And Other Stories, who published books exclusively by women in 2018.
Shamsie might be heartened, however, to see that things are changing, albeit slowly, in both the literary and art worlds. This autumn sees the launch of a new series of books by women about women artists from Eiderdown Press. In London, Soho’s The Second Shelf bookshop has now joined Persephone Books in showcasing books by women: The Second Shelf sells rare and modern first editions by women; Persephone Books reprints neglected fiction by (mostly) women writers. Last month, Baltimore Museum of Art announced 2020 Vision, a year of exhibitions and events dedicated to the ‘presentation of the achievements of female-identifying artists’.
In all of these examples, I’m struck not by what’s lost or left out, but what’s gained. Far from being restrictive, the emphasis on work by women or non-binary artists and writers represents an exciting opportunity to discover new voices.
This sense of excitement and discovery permeated the recent exhibition Fifty Works by Fifty British Women Artists 1900-1950, curated by Sacha Llewellyn. Designed as a ‘corrective to the exclusion of women from the “master” narratives of art’, Llewellyn assembled an extraordinary cross-section of women’s artistic output during the first half of the twentieth century, from painting to collage to woodcuts to sculpture.
In an art world often dominated by modernism, it was refreshing to see a wide variety of styles on display, with realist works placed alongside experiments in abstraction, Surrealism and Vorticism. Even as someone who works on this period, many of the names were new to me. What a delight to discover Marion Adnams, the ‘leading Surrealist in Derby’ and Joyce Bidder and Daisy Borne, two sculptors who shared a studio for over fifty years.
Two paintings which particularly spoke to me were Anna Zinkeisen’s All the Colours of the Rainbow (1942) and Winifred Knights’s Edge of Abruzzi; Boat with three people on a lake (1924-30).
Both paintings are characterised by an extraordinary stillness, one that vacillates between a calm serenity and a creeping sense of eeriness. There is something so strange about the contradiction between Zinkeisen’s title and her monochrome palette; looking at Edge of Abruzzi, I was left unsettled by the flat, unruffled water. These are works which ask or invite questions. They encourage dialogue. They draw you in.
In the accompanying exhibition catalogue, Knights’s son John Monnington writes poignantly about being ‘totally ignorant’ of his mother’s ‘true abilities’ when he was growing up. These commentaries, written by academics, artists, writers and family members to accompany each artwork, constitute perhaps the most inventive part of the exhibition. The commentaries are variously enlightening, mysterious and intimate. I loved Griff Rhys Jones on what entrances him about Edith Grace Wheatley’s The China Cupboard (1910), and Frances Fyfield on her encounter with Amy Glady Donovan’s Self-portrait (1926), a work she rechristens as ‘Girl with Buttons’. This mix of biography, autobiography and criticism is innovative and inspiring. It’s a useful reminder to those in academia that human and emotional responses to artworks are as valid as the intellectual or critical.
Useful, too, are the artist biographies, collected and collated by Llewellyn and Alanna Jones. These are a veritable gold mine for future research projects: could anything be more tempting to a researcher than the phrase ‘little is known about…’? Alongside Llewellyn’s introductory catalogue essay, these biographies give a sense of the professionalisation of women artists during this period, and the career opportunities available to them. Some of my favourite works at the exhibition were designs for murals, such as Barbara Jones’s The Resort (1950), Doris Zinkeisen’s [‘Work’] Artist’s record of mural designed for the Arts and Crafts exhibition (1916) and Margaret L. Duncan’s Reigate and its Environments (late 1930s).
Over the past few months, I’ve been researching women muralists from the first half of the twentieth century, including Dorothy Annan, Mildred ‘Elsi’ Eldridge, Mary Adshead, Nan West, Evelyn Dunbar and Olga Lehmann. I’ve yet to establish what drew so many women to the mural form, but I’m beginning to piece together networks of women muralists, especially those working in art education. Before visiting the exhibition, I spent the morning in the University of Leeds’s Special Collections reading Athene, the journal of the Society for Education in Art. In it, I’d come across a 1942 article by Peggy Angus on her use of murals with children evacuated from Streatham High School to Chichester. Angus describes working with students, teachers and fellow artists to produce a series of four murals depicting local scenes, designed to instil a sense of civic awareness and appreciation for the new landscape in which they found themselves.
Angus’s account hints at hidden or forgotten matrilineal exchanges of knowledge, in which women artists taught the next generation of women artists in primary and secondary schools. This exchange is something which still continues today: just this year, the University of Leeds partnered with artists and the Hyde Park community to produce a new series of murals, five out of six of which were designed by women. Workshops were held at Brudenell Primary School, in which children created artwork inspired by their experiences of Hyde Park; in turn, this artwork inspired Emma Hardaker’s and Fem Sorcell’s murals.
A greater awareness of women’s historical involvement in the mural form would no doubt inspire future projects like the Hyde Park or Streatham High School murals. By introducing viewers to the range and diversity of women’s artistic expression in modern Britain, Fifty Works creates a space for new conversations, research projects and exhibitions. I only hope that other galleries will follow suit.
Fifty Works by Fifty British Women Artists 1900-1950, curated by Sacha Llewellyn, appeared at The Ambulatory at The Mercer’s Company, London, 3 December 2018 – 23 March 2019 and the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds, 9 April – 27 July 2019. The exhibition catalogue, including a commentary on each work, is out now. Images courtesy of Liss Llewellyn and University of Leeds.
Dr Emma West is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Birmingham. She is currently writing her first book, Art for the People: Democracy and the Arts in Modern Britain.
 Sacha Llewellyn, ‘Introduction’, in Fifty Works by Fifty British Women Artists 1900-1950, ed. by Sacha Llewellyn (London: Liss Llewellyn, 2018), pp. 10-11 (p. 10).
 Minoo Dinshaw, ‘Marion Adnams’, in Fifty Works, p. 55; Ayla Lepine, ‘Daisy Borne’, in Fifty Works, p. 67.
 John Monnington, ‘Winifred Knights’, in Fifty Works, p. 121.
 Griff Rhys Jones, ‘Edith Grace Wheatley’, in Fifty Works, p. 145; Frances Fyfield, ‘Amy Gladys Donovan’, in Fifty Works, p. 89.
 Peggy Angus, ‘Studios at Work: Streatham High School, Looking at Chichester’, Athene, 2.1 (June 1942): 17-19.
Though conceptualised for the sculpture park in Graz, the performance piece Cleaning Her by Martina Morger was first executed in Glasgow’s Merchant City in 2018. In the run-up to the performance, the concept for Cleaning Her evolved to relate to the industrial past of Scotland’s largest city more specifically. Historically a point of intersection for international merchants and local retailers, Glasgow’s eastern city centre is now busy with bars, restaurants and cafes. Glasgow’s industrious past remains, however, written into the fabric of Merchant City’s architecture and cityscape. In this environment, Martina Morger chose to focus on the themes of both work and legacy. Being specifically interested in women’s history and domestic labour, her investigation centres around sculptures created by women artists. Within the performance, the artist cleaned the following five sculptures: Gorbals Boys by Liz Peden; Slow Down by Jacqueline Donachie; Mercat Cross by Margaret Findlay and Edith Burnet Hughes; Thinking of Bella by Shona Kilnoch and Dug-out Canoe Found AD 1871 by Louise Crawford and Ian Alexander. With three hours of labour ahead, the artist set out with a tin bucket of water, a household cloth and blue worker’s dungarees. Most of the sculptures were in poor condition and clearly in dire need of care. Assuming the guise of a maintenance worker, the artist traced the surfaces of each sculpture in both a caring and cleansing act towards these forgotten legacies of Merchant City’s female sculptors. The performance was not officially publicised, the authorities had not been informed and thus, this carefully devised work process went largely unnoticed.
Though the blue overalls are dissimilar to and thus distinct from those worn by the council’s employed maintenance workers, nobody stopped to question Martina’s Morger’s position. It seemed as though the blue work-wear suit rendered her largely invisible to the public eye. Wishing to utilise as little foreign objects as possible for the performance, the “costume” was kept as minimal as possible. The carefully devised aesthetic, however, allowed the artist to play with the tropes of an archetypal maintenance worker, a role which, as exemplified by the artist’s performance, goes mostly unnoticed by urban society. The fact that the artist herself is female draws further associations between this public service and domestic services which were traditionally (and are statistically still) performed predominantly by women. Through this association, the performance piece aligns with a history of female artists performing maintenance work in public spaces to draw attention to hidden and undervalued labour. Despite the artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles having framed maintenance art as feminist practice as far back as the 1970s, the themes then addressed are still more than relevant in 2018. By cleaning the steps of the Wadsworth Atheneum museum for example, Mierle Laderman Ukeles drew attention to the large number of women in service roles in stark contrast to their lacking representation amongst the museum’s management. Furthermore, the labour-intensive practices of both Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Martina Morger bring into discussion the many roles which female artists in particular must adopt to sustain themselves. Through the arduous and repetitive labour of cleaning, parallels were and are thus drawn between artistic practice, the hidden labour taking place within the home and the labour of maintenance workers caring for public spaces and buildings.
Arguably, the cleaning of public objects has gained new relevance in the age of social media. As the artist, Martina Morger states, our society has become even more obsessed with material values and aesthetics. Public artworks now feature as backdrops to pictures circulating on Instagram and the value of the works is thereby reduced to their outward aesthetic. Though the artist’s work is likewise focussed on the surface of the sculptures through her symbolic cleaning and maintenance, the time and care that has been given deliberately to sculptures made by female artists points towards a more focussed engagement with the history of the objects. The time taken to clean the sculptures somewhat mirrors the time and labour invested in their making. Questions arise around the identity of the sculptor, their intentions and the process by which the individual objects came to be. By tracing the objects with the cloth, the artist engages with the sculptures through a bodily experience that goes beyond the visual. Martina Morger describes her interactions with each sculpture as highly individual and intimate. From having to climb up onto the plinth of Thinking of Bella, reaching through a construction fence protecting The Gorbals Boys to being hindered by the fortress-like plinth of Mercat Cross the engagement with each sculpture is individual and physical.
The performance piece was concluded by the artist demonstratively pouring out the bucket of now filthy water. The layers of dirt that had gathered on the surfaces of the sculptures had become a testament to the negligence towards these public artworks. The process of cleaning within Martina Morger’s performance is best described as spiritual labour rather than maintenance work as the sculptures were thereby neither repaired nor revived. The artist does not propose that her performance breathed new life into the objects but rather sees her process as an act of care. By caring for our material possessions, we assign value to them, what then happens when public possession such as sculptures are no longer cared for? Would they have been better maintained had they been made by male artists? The performance piece Cleaning Her gives no answers to these questions raised, but rather proposes a heightened engagement with public art, particularly the still very few commissions given to female artists. The opportunity to engage with public sculptures in this manner is not to be limited to the artist and thus she has chosen to publish a score encouraging others to re-iterate the performance in a location of their choice.
You will need:
A tin bucket
Filled with clean water
A bright neon cloth
Your work uniform
Go and clean public art
made by female artists.
written by Isabelle Thul
score & performance by Martina Morger
images by Wassili Widmer
Martina Morger is a performance artist who also works with multimedia. She reflects on femininity as a device, and claiming space as a political body. Through her work, one discovers an engagement with the limitations of individual freedom in regard to technology. Her main practice is inspired by cyberfeminism, body, code and biopolitics. her work is primarily concerned with women’s placement within society, but also queerness in regards to cybernetical hybridisation.Exploring female and queer voices – or lack thereof – domesticity, repetitive action and labour she works primarily with performance and enjoys investigating the borders to other media. her embodiment of different personas speaks to fluidity and its possible implications in society.
Isabelle Thul is an independent curator from Germany working in Glasgow and Berlin. Within her practice, Isabelle researches and implements an environmentally conscious and ethically driven approach. Furthermore, Isabelle looks to make artistic practices approachable to a wider range of audiences by becoming aware of and tackling the obstacles, which may stop individuals from feeling that an exhibition or project’s audience may include them. Isabelle is also active as a writer and journalist with published articles on ArtMag.com and in the magazine Vegan Connections. Employed by the arts organisation WAVEparticle since early 2019, Isabelle works with a team of artists and cultural producers to lead urban regeneration arts projects and creative workshops for community consultations.
There is a craft inclination in art that can put people at unease. It ebbs in popularity. Three years ago at an event at the ICA I was speaking to a sculptor who, when asked if they were still working on the same body of work, replied oh no, they only wrote now. It was one of several similar encounters I had, and whilst it can be common to move away from art after art school, we all seemed embarrassed that we had once been making. This idea was enforced by artists like Katrina Palmer, who moved from installation and sound sculpture, to published texts and plays. I’ve since been told in turning-point tones that Katrina Palmer is making objects again.
The ‘Live Form’[i]of an object – the awareness of its having been made that survives in its visual seams or pressed shape – provides a hook for us to lean into and place ourselves and our ideals into. What survives is its becoming: with ceramics there’s an oozing; in textiles there’s a fray – from fricare meaning ‘to rub’, or affray meaning ‘to disturb’. This threat of active non-existence also carries the possibility of the object to exceed itself and its boundaries in our direction, and that is how we lose ourselves in it, how we are alienated towards it.
I came to what I had seen as a domestic – craft – lean in art exhibitions over the past two years with discomfort. As something that was looking inwards, I saw it as concurrent with millennial pastel: the rise of ‘millennial pink’, Pantone’s colour of 2016, adopted by luxury and high street brands. These shades’ strong relationship to the market spoke of home at a time of growing consumer and environmental crisis, in a way that felt soft and obfuscating. If this were to be my only reaction to the rise of craft objects, I would miss the uncanny through this tenderising and the addendum to the actuality of domestic.
Images and news reports of disasters such as the industrial fires in Karachi in 2012 cemented textile manufacturing in the UK’s mindset as gendered and racialised to little or no effect, with fast fashion still being the norm, and no alternatives providing solutions to those workers manufacturing in dire conditions. This is not an issue for artists to solve any more than it is one for all of us. To make works strongly linked with craft, however, is to work with a highly political, capitalised object: ‘in the context of early twenty-first century discussions about the supposed evaporation of handmade things, it is essential to ask questions about whose handiwork, exactly, is at issue: some is vastly undervalued but central to the mechanisms of capitalism, while some is triumphed as ‘revolutionary’ and posited as a form of economic refusal.’[ii]
MH Sarkis’ art, headlined as ‘rugbiotics and techstyles’ on her website, sits with the tech that is embedded in contemporary textiles manufacturing. ‘Motherboard’ uses rug pulling that invites touch to produce soundscapes. This interaction between user and object grounds ‘use value’ in the work. Blurring the distinction between high art object – with its own frame of cultural and economic capital – and low craft object (all rugs are interactive) as useable, potentially affordable, readily available and anonymous. In returning to the familiar object in her work, we then find it other. Keying in to the human interest in creating artificial life forms whilst using internal, bodily colours, and referring to her work as ‘born’, rather than made, forwards the procreative, domestic narrative of gendered making. The crisis of self in a technologised legacy, with AI seen as both technologically vulnerable and threatening, unravels in tendril-like forms. Its corporeality, with titles such as ‘Medium Rare’, troubles the separation of object and self further. Sarkis’ work expresses a feminist speculative futurism: envisioning a ‘soft power’ that presents objects with the capacity to respond to those around it, it is as if the work exists in a received, technologised future. Her work cuts an oppositional narrative through a feminised craft medium.
The value of craft in art and its association with women’s work, as ‘taught by women aimed at men’[iii], is something of a cliché. Anne Carson has written about silence, evident as catastrophe, as a confrontation of cliché. It’s a kind of noise that exceeds– as an answer to, or evasion of – the sense of a question that merely seeks affirmation[iv]. In Lindsey Mendick’s show The Ex Files, work pushes its forms and bursts into kitsch – an excess where the narrative that the work is taken from, here a breakdown of a relationship, is repeated back in fragmented surfeit. A standard and contemporary office is strewn with ceramic smashed marmite jars, disembowelled t-shirts and a textile, bi-corporeal, headless, self-fucking office chair sprouting an arse, legs and heels. The walls are covered with ceramic post-it notes, hand-written. The glazing techniques strongly ground the work in the twentieth century, where it can move in and out of relatable nostalgia and memory. Being within temporal reach and within the mundane, it has a greater scope to move through its cliché. The blurring of domestic and office environment, ornament and textual creates boundaries to then seep through, embodying the ‘Live Form’ that is emphasised through explosive objects and the detritus of a has-been relationship.
When we use kitsch there is a risk we snub or fetishise what we deem as ‘low’ culture. However, the choice of what is deemed low can also be a political act: the refusal of an excluding notion of success, as queer theorist Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure explores. Art historian Julia Bryan-Wilson voices the artist Harmony Hammond’s claim that in existing between public and private, ‘ “the instability of textiles” … in some instances might be felt to be queer – that is, how they propose different sorts of bodily orientations and create volatile interfaces between public and private selves’ [v]. Of course there is no universal in this, and the crux is in who chooses what.
The Live Form and frayed bodies of Mendick and Sarkis’ work goes across the boundaries of high and low. As shifting narrators, they disrupt our reading of these bodies through hazed and broken memory and speculative futures. These haptic and seeping qualities confront the cliché of the gendered body within craft- they move in a constant, disruptive unanswering of the same tired question.
Could you give us a little insight into the ‘Homework’ project – who are you and what do you do?
Homework is a research project that I am undertaking with independent curator Clare Sheppeard. Our aim is to twofold, firstly to highlight some of the less visible women artists, designers and architects working in the Modernist style eg Eileen Gray, Lilly Reich, and Charlotte Perriand, and secondly, to work with artists who have been inspired or informed by the ideas and work of these women. Our ultimate aim is to commission new work that highlights how artists respond to architecture as a social space, a place for daydreaming, and as a subjective and creative space.
We are interested in exploring an alternative view to Modernism’s, and specifically to Le Corbusier’s, concept of architecture as a “machine for living”, instead offering a more personal take of the role of architecture and reflecting on Eileen Gray’s notion of architecture as a “protective shell against the world”.
History suggests that the great male heroes of International Style and the Bauhaus had little time for women yet a few voices supported the emergence of women who excelled and were innovators in the field of architecture and design. These women have not always received the credit they deserve and are less prominently featured in histories or exhibitions about this period
Why do you think it is important to tell new stories about women designers?
There have been exhibitions that highlight the work of Gray (Pompidou, Paris 2013) Reich (MOMA New York, 1996) but women’s stories are still relatively underplayed compared to their male contemporaries and colleagues such as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. The contributions these women made say something more complex and goes beyond the mere fact of their gender; they offer a whole way of thinking – about scale and the use of materials and functionality. The idea of having built-in furniture, for example, which in the 1920’s and 1930’s was novel, was developed in part by Le Corbusier at the Villa Savoye which has built-in wardrobes, shelves and tables. Yet at E1027 Eileen Gray took this idea in a different more multi-functional direction, making built-in cupboards that are also part of the wall, and a three quarter room height rounded partition wall that is divided horizontally at eye level into white and blue sections, this partition is simultaneously the entrance to the room and forms part of the hallway. Her furniture is light, portable, adjustable and was designed to be moved according to need. She offered the inhabitant autonomy over the placement of furniture. Her famous adjustable table, designed for her sister who liked to eat breakfast in bed, was made of tubular steel and plexiglass, which seems unremarkable today, but if we consider the weight, solidity and volume of nineteenth century furniture, this use of lightweight materials was particularly innovative. It is interesting to note that Aram uses heavier chrome and glass in his reproductions of the adjustable table making it more solid and therefore more worthy of serious investment by his clientele!
The point here, I think, lies in the historical roles assigned to many men and women until the post war period. It’s also important to recognise that these houses and buildings were designed by and for wealthy people, people who were educated, informed and fully immersed in the modernist project of forging a new rational world. Making progress in a world of increasing industrialization, mass production, evolving new technologies and materials, they were interested in creating better more rational, transparent housing and by extension a more utopian society. But these men (and few women) were often out in the world and absorbing all it had to offer, and many women were not, their social role and function being tied to the home. When some of these women got the opportunity to gain an education and work, they already had first hand experience of being in the home and an understanding of how a house ‘worked’ even though it is unlikely that they were involved in anything that we might call housework. Even so, their attitude to and understanding of interior space, furniture and the functioning of a house/home would have been very different to that of men.