Skip to content

Toggle service links

Coronavirus: Course registration is open, but please be aware it may take us longer to respond than usual. Find out about our coronavirus response and current contact hours.

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Clare Taylor

Dr Clare Taylor

Clare Taylor

Profile summary

Professional biography

Dr Clare Taylor's research focuses on the historic interior and its decoration and the relationship between consumers, designers, makers and objects. She joined the Open University as Staff Tutor in 2011, having previously taught Arts modules for the University as an Associate Lecturer, and Contextual & Critical Studies as a Visiting Lecturer at Middlesex & Bucks Universities. Clare has also worked as a Curator of Fine and Decorative Art in museums, art galleries and for English Heritage across England, Scotland and Wales.

Research interests

Clare's book The Design, Production & Reception of Eighteenth-century wallpaper in Britain www.routledge.com/9781472456151 (Routledge) was shortlisted by The Historians of British Art Book Prize. This monograph aligned the growth of wallpaper with developing cultures of luxury, politeness and sociability through study of sites, archives and museum collections across the UK. It argued that wallpaper was a key new decorative material of the century and one which spawned new trades and fashions in decoration, including Chinoserie and a taste for imitation in 'mock India' (English wallpapers imitating Chinese) and 'mock flock' papers. It also showed how the nascent wallpaper industry successfully competed with other trades and spawned new materials for use in decorating the interior such as papier mache.

Her next book project incovers the role of leather hangings and related objects in relation to the creation of Gilt Leather Rooms from c.1600 to c.1800. This project throws new light on intermateriality in the interior and on the relationship between printed sources, architectural structures and other wall decorations. Clare is conducting the first full investigation of the people, places and objects associated with Gilt Leather Rooms across the British Isles, including not just archival and museum sources, but extant schemes in a wide range of buildings from castles to the country house, inns to college rooms. She has been awarded a Mid Career Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art to support her research in connection with this project.

Clare welcomes enquiries from potential research students, and would be happy to supervise topics related to her specialisms, in particular on eighteenth-century material culture, issues of gender difference and on twentieth century design as well as in the field of the interior. Contact: clare.taylor@open.ac.uk

Current students:

Amanda Stevens   ‘Home on the Rails: the Design, Fitting and Decoration of Train Interiors in Britain, c.1920-1955’, AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) with the Science Museum Group (National Railway Museum, York).

Emma Hardy  'Utopian collaboration? William Morris, Jeffrey & Co and the Morris & Co wallpapers 1864-c.1928', Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership CDA with the Sanderson Archive https://www.oocdtp.ac.uk/people/emma-hardy

Selected publications  

Books

The Design, Production & Reception of Eighteenth-century wallpaper in Britain (The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting,1700-1950, Routledge, 2018) www.routledge.com/9781472456151 

Chapters in books

(forthcoming) ‘In search of the Georgian period room, c.1900-c.1945: Scholars, Dealers and Decorators’, in Howard Coutts, Mark Westgarth and Jane Whittaker (eds) The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience.  

 ‘ “Modern Swedish Rococo”: the Neo-Georgian interior in Britain c.1920-c.1945’  in Holder, J. and McKellar, E. (eds) Re-Appraising Neo-Georgian Architecture: Colonial, Domestic and Pastoral Visions 1850-1970 (Swindon: Historic England, 2016), 151-166

‘ “Painted paper of Pekin”: eighteenth-century Chinese papers in 1920s Britain’, in Huang, M. (ed.) The Reception of Chinese Art across cultures (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014) 44-64

‘Chinese papers and English imitations in eighteenth-century Britain’, in Stavelow-Hidemark, E. (ed.) New Discoveries, New Research : Papers from the international wallpaper conference at the Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, 2007 (Stockholm: The Nordiska Museet, 2009) 36-53

Journal articles

'Revisiting London paper-hangings tradesmen I: Crompton & Spinnage', The Wallpaper History Review (2020) 44-50

English wallpaper manufacture, c.1700-c.1800’, The Quarterly: Journal of the British Association of Paper Historian, 83 (July 2012), 13-23

‘Eckhardts & Co and the supply of wall decorations for Shugborough’, Georgian Group Journal, xix (2011) 145-150

 ‘Reading the cards: trade cards as sources for studying the British Eighteenth-century wallpaper trade’, The Wallpaper History Review (2008) 29-32

‘The Division of the Wall: the use of wallpapers in decorative schemes 1870-1910’, Journal of the Decorative Arts Society, 12 (1988) 18-25

Online contributions

‘Leather, flock and paper: Early wall coverings at Greyfriars House, Worcester’, Arts, Buildings & Collections Bulletin, Swindon: The National Trust, Summer 2018, 19-22

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/art-and-collection-resources

Teaching interests

Clare has contributed to the running of Art History's Undergraduate and Postgraduate modules, including Chairing the popular second level Art History module A226, Exploring Art & Visual Culture. Her teaching contributions to part 2 of the MA in Art History (A844) are on approaches to the study interiors, and on collecting and practice in the work of the twentieth century British pattern designer Enid Marx. She has also written a chapter on Chinoiserie in eighteenth-century Britain for the well received Level 3 Art History module, A344, Art & its Global Histories.

She is the Convenor for Art History on the inter-disciplinary Arts & Humanities Level 1 module, A112 Cultures, which launched in October 2020. She edited, and authored on, the Art History block and edited and authored on the module's inter-disciplinary units https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4khO3RuGJ30.

Clare has also contributed films to Open Arts Objects, an innovative project that provides free open access films and teaching support materials geared to the Art History A-level, including:

Yinka Shonibare, Ship in a Bottle, 2010

http://www.openartsarchive.org/resource/open-arts-object-yinka-shonibare-nelson%E2%80%99s-ship-bottle-2010

Vinyl wallpaper, 1960s

http://www.openartsarchive.org/resource/open-arts-object-1960s-vinyl-wallpaper

She has a particular interest in innovation in teaching and is working with Dr Heather Richardson on a Scholarship project examining how students in Art History and Creative Writing learn by interrogating art works. Creative Interactions: Teaching with the Open University's Art Collection centres on the University's own art collection and examines the creative and critical synergies between the two disciplines https://openuniv.sharepoint.com/:w:/s/units/lds/scholarship-exchange/EVmm0_2xO5ZMjP43Bnhal0ABhxqPq_VpDtuR18vMszTY0Q.

Impact and engagement

Clare frequently presents to the heritage sector on issues around the historic interior and its interpretation for example in ‘‘Resale, restore, reprint: Rediscovering historic wallpapers in early twentieth-century Britain’,  presented to the 'Working with Wallpapers', a conference organised by the Wallpaper HistorySociety/English Heritage at Wrest Park http://www.wallpaperhistorysociety.org.uk/event/working-with-wallpapers-future-directions-in-wallpaper-research-and-interpretation/ http://recsoxford.org/network/recso-study-day-2015-at-home-exploring-eighteenth-century-domestic-space/ She has also shared her work on the global and the interplay between imported luxury goods and new products at events organised by the National Trust, such as ‘”A Large Assortment of Curious India Paper”: the Eighteenth-Century English Market for Chinese Wallpaper’ to the conference ‘Chinese wallpaper: Trade, techniques and taste' organised by the V&A and RCA with The National Trust https://chinesewallpaper2016.wordpress.com/.

She is also involved in initiatives around investigating the role of gender and otherness in decision-making about interiors, and is on the committee of GOTH (Gender and Otherness in the Humanities), a Research Centre based in the the School of Arts & Humanities: https://fass.open.ac.uk/research/centres/goth

Clare also contributed to OpenLearn's Travelling Objects in connection with the OU/BBC series Civilisations:

‘The Garrick Bed, c.1775’http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/travellingobjects/#/

‘Yinka Shonibare: Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, 2010’ http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/travellingobjects/#/

External collaborations

Clare has worked in collaboration with a number of museums and heritage bodies on films as part of her contributions to OU teaching. These include Compton Verney in Warwickshire (on the Marx-Lambert collection) http://www.comptonverney.org.uk/collections/9/marx_lambert_collection.aspx and the Museum of the Home (on the period room) https://www.museumofthehome.org.uk/, both for A844, Part 2 of the MA in Art History; and with The National Trust at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire (on the Elizabethan country house) for A112, Cultures .

She also advises local and national bodies on matters related to historic wallpaper's collection and research. These have included the National Maritime Museum and the National Archives.

Clare has also shared her research with wider audiences via OU/BBC co-productions. She contributed films to 'Travelling Objects' in connection with the OU/BBC series Civilisations:

‘The Garrick Bed, c.1775’http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/travellingobjects/#/

‘Yinka Shonibare: Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, 2010’ http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/travellingobjects/#/

She is also Academic Consultant on series one and two of the 6-part BBC/OU series, Secrets of the Museum: Behind the Scenes at the V&A and authored the object entries for 'Can you be a Curator?' https://www.open.edu/openlearn/tv-radio-events/tv/secrets-the-museum

Clare is a founder member of a global network made up of scholars, curators, wallpaper manufacturers, heritage professionals and conservators working on Chinese wallpaper.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Gender in the Humanities Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts
Material Cultures Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts

Publications

Revisiting London paper hangings tradesmen I: Crompton & Spinnage, c.1750-c.1770 (2020-09)
Taylor, Clare
The Wallpaper History Review, 2020 (pp. 44-50)


[Book Review] Designing the French interior: the modern home and mass media (2018-06-26)
Taylor, Clare
Cultural and Social History, 15(4) (pp. 618-620)


English wallpaper manufacture, c.1700-c.1800 (2012-07)
Taylor, Clare
The Quarterly (Journal of the British Association of Paper Historians), 83 (pp. 13-23)


Eckhardts & Co and the supply of wall decorations for Shugborough (2011)
Taylor, Clare
The Georgian Group Journal, XIX (pp. 145-150)


Reading the cards: discovering the British eighteenth-century wallpaper trade (2008)
Taylor, Clare
The Wallpaper History Review (pp. 29-32)


The Design, Production and Reception of Eighteenth-century Wallpaper in Britain (2018-06-12)
Taylor, Clare
The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting, 1700-1950, ed. Stacey J. Pierson
ISBN : 978-1-4724-5615-1 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, Oxon and New York


‘Modern Swedish rococo’: the Neo-Georgian interior in Britain, c 1920–c 1945 (2016-05-15)
Taylor, Clare
In: McKellar, Elizabeth and Holder, Julian eds. Neo-Georgian Architecture 1880-1970: A Reappraisal (pp. 151-166)
ISBN : 978-1-84802-235-5 | Publisher : Historic England | Published : Swindon


“Painted paper of Pekin”: the taste for eighteenth-century Chinese papers in Britain, c.1918-c.1945 (2014-07-01)
Taylor, Clare
In: Huang, Michelle Ying-ling ed. The Reception of Chinese Art across Cultures (pp. 44-64)
ISBN : 978-1-4438-5909-7 | Publisher : Cambridge Scholars Publishing | Published : Cambridge


Chinese papers and English imitations in 18th Century Britain (2009)
Taylor, Clare
In: Stavenow-Hidemark, Elisabet ed. New Discoveries New Research: Papers from the International wallpaper conference held at the Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, 2007 (pp. 36-53)
ISBN : 978-91-7108-532-0 | Publisher : Nordiska Museets Forlag | Published : Stockholm