Who paints the house? Scotswomen as housepainters and decorators from 1820

Nina Baker

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In the early 21st century it is still considered unusual to find a woman in paid employment as a skilled housepainter and decorator. Tradeswomen, in these most domestic of building trades, were working throughout Scotland during the 19th and 20th centuries. The women were those whose work self-identities were sufficiently strong to be recorded in directories and census returns. These are women who worked, not middle class or amateur women interior decorators dabbling in the arts and crafts because it was fashionable. The historical record is compared with contemporary records of women taking paid employment in these fields and also with the strong market created in modern times by the many TV DIY programmes encouraging women into DIY. The high level of present and past involvement of women in house-painting and decorating shows that the aptitude and ability exists at both the professional and amateur levels. The factual reality is compared with perception and prejudice within the industry and the barriers that were and are placed in front of women wishing to do this work.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2005
EventWHN conference: Women, Art & Culture, 2005 - Southampton Solent University
Duration: 1 Jan 1900 → …


ConferenceWHN conference: Women, Art & Culture, 2005
CitySouthampton Solent University
Period1/01/00 → …


  • women's history
  • construction history
  • housepainters


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