Looking Out and In: Reflecting, remaking and reimagining historical interiors from contemporary viewpoints

Day: Saturday 7 April


Helen McCormack (Glasgow School of Art)
Anne Nellis Richter
Jennifer Gray (Edinburgh College of Art)

Session Abstract

Recent research on the history of the domestic interior has highlighted the significance of meanings embedded in the architecture, decoration and objects that comprise the furnishings and fittings of houses and homes. Such increasingly rich and diverse investigation has demonstrated an expansive reach, encompassing grand, architectural schemes and minute inventoried, personal belongings. Despite this development, often the interpretative and communicative aspects of art and design that make up the social meanings of these spaces is misrepresented or can be overly speculative. Therefore, in reflecting, remaking and reimagining historical interiors, the contributions of artists, designers and craftspeople might best be foregrounded in constructing ideas of authenticity, transparency, and materiality in the making process, alongside scholarly study.

This session explores such ideas by reflecting on how historical interiors are remade and reimagined by looking in and out; at how a reassembling of spaces ought to avoid ‘a shrinking definition of the social itself’ (Latour, 2005). Surveying a range of interior ‘types’ from a number of historical periods, this panel investigates how meaning is made in refashioning domestic and social spaces, from the palatial to austere. The session includes art and design historians, curators and practitioners who are all currently working on these reimagined spaces, and asks: How are historical interiors made meaningful from a contemporary viewpoint? How might they be embedded in the social and grounded in the present?

Speakers & Papers

Introduction by Anne Nellis Richter Visualising the History of the Interior

Sarah Rose Shivers (Florida State University) The Exterior/ Interior Dynamic of St Ethelburga’s: Five centuries of a London parish church’s design history

Shatavisha Mustafi (School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University) Adornment of Public Buildings in India: Revisiting an initiative by the Ministry of Education and Culture post-independence

Camilla Pietrabissa (Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris and the Courtauld Institute of Art) The Cabinet Inside- Out: Science collections and their relation to the outdoors

Helen McCormack (Glasgow School of Art) Material Interconnections: Anatomy, natural history and the fine arts in 18th-century interiors

Deborah Sugg Ryan (University of Portsmouth) BBC2’s A House Through Time: Reimagining and remaking domestic interiors from 1838–2017 for television

Jennifer Gray (Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh) Social, Material, Action: Reinterpreting and reimagining historical domestic spaces and objects in contemporary practice

Catrin Huber (Newcastle University) Expanded Interiors: Contemporary Site-Specific Fine-Art Practice in Dialogue with Roman Wall Paintings

Floor Koeleman (University of Luxembourg) Reimagining the Lansdowne Dining Room Using the Metropolitan Museum’s Open Access Collections