This talk explores the domestic work of Barry Parker of the Parker and Unwin Partnership (1896-1914) as both straightforward and simple. It will argue that his work over an established career can be seen as a matured and refined expression of one that has evolved across his domestic work, both as groups of cottages but also in individual houses. It will use key essays from The Art of Building a Home and The Craftsman Magazine to illustrate Parker’s method and approach. It firmly situates Parker as an Architect in the first instance rather than as a planner as the Partnership was famously known as. The talk will then show and give evidence of this approach through a building study of 102 Wilbury Road in Letchworth Garden City, the house designed by Barry Parker of in 1908 for his younger brother and wife, Stanley and Signe Parker. It will illuminate his intent and bring attention to how Parker deals with construction, the inglenook and the myriad furniture he designed. The talk will finish with an interrogation of Camden Town artist William Ratcliffe’s oil paintings The Red Curtain and The Artist’s Room depicting the interior of 102 Wilbury Road. These along with several other studies were painted whilst he stayed with the Parkers. These paintings not only show Barry Parker’s architecture in a vibrant new light but also explore the material qualities and lived domesticity as well as the spatial complexities of the soft furnishings depicted adorning the room’s surfaces in the painting.
Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain
SAHGB brings together all those with an interest in the history of the built environment – academics, architects, heritage experts and the wider public. We believe that appreciation of architectural history plays a vital role in understanding our culture, past and present. With the help of our members, we publish new research, organise a range of events, provide educational opportunities and advance the understanding of the built histories of all periods and places, in Britain and beyond.