Australian Art
Domestic Modernity

While accounts of modernism in the visual arts often focus on the relationship of art, industrial production and international politics, modernism in Australia was as often as not tied to the experience of the home and a more domestic culture. It is interesting that domestic subjects provided a defining narrative for modernist art in Australia, a catalyst for artistic innovation.

In the face of the traumas of the First World War, the domestic realm marked a modern counterpoint to the conservative impulses that had located Australia's national character in the bush since the nineteenth century. With the increased urbanisation of Australian society, the suburb, the home, and the domestic interior were often the most visible loci of the technological innovation that found its visual expression in avant-garde design, painting, printmaking, photography, ceramics and textiles.

The significant contribution of women to modernist artistic innovation in Australia was at least equal to that of male artists. Many of the works include images of motherhood, intimate scenes of friendship and family life, and of the home as a place of modern design and beauty. The works also focus on the spaces between the interior and its surrounds, such as the verandah, windows and the automobile, reflecting a poetic sensibility residing in the rituals and intimate surroundings of everyday life.