The main focus of my research is the artistic and visual culture of domesticity in France 1880-1940 as framed by questions deriving from feminist methodologies. On the one hand my research lies in painterly, avant-garde, domesticities and, on the other, in mass-consumed, mediated domesticities. Either way, I consider how and to what historical effect these domesticities are productive of subjectivities that are sexually differentiated.
Currently I am completing a book examining the personal and social politics of domesticity in the work and working arrangements of French Nabi artist Edouard Vuillard, Edouard Vuillard: Art and the Politics of Domesticity at the end of the Nineteenth Century. This will constitute the first book-length feminist engagement with Vuillard and Intimisme more generally. I am also curating an international loan exhibition of Vuillard's paintings of his mother, ‘Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard’, to be shown at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, October 2018 to January 2019. An exhibition catalogue under my editorship will accompany the show. A further article on the historiography of Intimisme, ‘Intimisme: Private Life of a Critical Category’ is planned.
I am also currently researching mass media publications associated with the hugely popular interwar Salon des Arts Ménagers (1923-1983), including the journal L'Art Ménager and the annual exhibition poster. My article ‘Housewife Writ Large: Marie mécanique, Paulette Bernège and New Feminist Domesticity in Interwar France’ that critically analyses the representation of housewife-automata in SAM publicity materials was published May 2017 in Oxford Art Journal. A further article on the topic of interwar French mass-media domesticity, ‘Housework, The Eighth Art’, is in progress.
I am in the process of building a research network and research project on the theme of ‘Nabis Politics: Art at the Vanguard of Debate after 1888’. This project will investigate the political and social attitudes of the influential Nabi artists, who rose to artistic prominence in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. By studying their work, objectives and affiliations in unprecedented detail, the network will develop an innovative critical perspective that casts much-needed new light on the Nabis' approach to art and design, promotes public engagement with their work and offers fresh insights into the turbulent relationship between culture and politics in 1890s France; the decade of feminist congresses, labour agitation, anarchist bombings, presidential assassination and the Dreyfus Affair. The project will foster vital international links between academics, archivists and curators, and their audiences, and reconcile discrete strands of research to produce an online research portal and edited collection.
I have been researcher on two RCUK funded collaborative research projects: as co-investigator to AHRC Suburban Birmingham: Spaces and Places, 1880-1960 (University of Birmingham, Birmingham Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham, 2009-2012) and as postdoctoral research fellow at AHRC Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior (Royal College of Art, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2001-2003). I was lead supervisor to the successfully completed AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award ‘Displaying Childhood Spaces’.