Gender, Space and Photography: Reading the Interiors of Clementina Hawarden

By Susan Close.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Design education and research have evolved significantly in the past decade having become increasingly interdisciplinary. Design now explores issues that previously existed only at its boundaries. For example, identity concepts such as gendered space are now being considered in relation to the study of the interior (Sparke 2008, Rice 2008). In this paper, I argue photographic interiors made by the noted Victorian photographer, Lady Clementina Hawarden (1822-1865) are significant examples of gendered space. Lady Hawarden is one the earliest significant examples of a woman photographer making photographs of interior spaces. Her images feature her adult daughters and reflect the private, domestic lives of Victorian women.
This paper approaches Hawarden’s work from a perspective of cultural analysis whereby the act of reading an image is the final act of a collaboration in which the photographer creates and the viewer decodes (Bal 2004, Mitchell 2005). Whereas there are studies of gendered space in relationship to architects and professional practice (Adams & Tancred 2000, Ainley 1998) and of photographic practice as it relates to design (e.g., Mitchell 2005) few examine the relationship to photography read as a coded message or visual text. This paper builds on studies from archival and geographic analysis of photographs being considered as objects that carry social history and cultural memory (Schwartz 2008). This study will add an important dimension to this research by examining Hawarden’s images as artifacts that reveal attitudes and practices related to gendered space in Victorian Britain.

Keywords: Gendered Space, Interdisciplinary Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.181-190. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.165MB).

Dr. Susan Close

Assistant Professor, Department of Interior Design, Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Susan Close is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Architecture and a Senior Fellow at St. John’s College, both at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. She teaches theory and photography in the graduate program. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Amsterdam in 2005. Her book, Framing Identity: Social Practices of Photography in Canada (1880-1920) was published by Arbeiter Ring Publishing in 2007.


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