Coloured houses : transgressing the limits of the domestic realm

Taylor, Mark (2004) Coloured houses : transgressing the limits of the domestic realm. In Edquest, Harriet & Frichot, Helene (Eds.) 21st Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians : Limits, 26-29 September, 2004, Melbourne, Australia.


It has long been argued that throughout nineteenth century England an emerging ideology of domesticity charged women with the responsibility for emotional and moral guidance within the home setting. The division of labour and rising cult of domesticity tended to place the interior within the realm of women, a territory they could claim as their own. Operating from what appear to be clearly demarked boundaries, gendered by social and cultural conventions, it has been suggested that women took on the private interior domestic arena and men sought refuge in the exterior – the 'public' face.

In 1873 Mary Eliza Haweis, a self-educated critic and arbiter of taste offered a challenge to this demarcation by laying claim to the house exterior and to the street. At the time she described her physical action, painting the exterior face of her drab London house a vibrant colour, as an 'art protestation.' This political action reflected a personal belief in individuality, and abhorrence of repressive ideologies.

This paper discusses her desire for liberation against the constraints of uniformity, and the reaction by the architectural establishment. It proposes that, diverted by the discussion of 'outer colouring' and polychromy, critics failed to notice that Haweis was operating across 'spheres' appropriating male terrain.

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ID Code: 12227
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Interior Design, Aesthetic theory
ISBN: 0646440624
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Architectural Design (120101)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Interior Design (120106)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Mark Taylor
Deposited On: 11 Mar 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:28

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