In Private Lives: Australians at Home since Federation, Peter Timms traces the revolutionary changes that have transformed domestic life over the past hundred years or so.
Privacy, security, comfort and happiness have always been the ideals people have striven for. Yet what we think they are today, and the ways we try to achieve them, would have bewildered our grandparents.
Beginning at the front door. Timms explores the suburban dwelling room by room, tracing the evolution of its furnishings and fittings. The technological and social developments affecting its layout and design, and the many ways people have organised their work and leisure activities. Be it in a Kings Cross flat in the 30s or an outer-suburban McMansion today.
Five different kitchens are carefully reconstructed, from 1910 to 2007, to map the development of cooking equipment, the rituals of dining, and the revolution in women's work schedules. In the bedroom, Timms looks at everything from mattress fillings and the symbolic role of the bed to changing sex-roles and child-rearing practices.
The labour involved in doing laundry a hundred years ago is described in all its hair-raising detail. Plumbing, he says, more than electricity, television or computers, is the most important technological advance of the past 200 years.
About the Author
Peter Timms was born and educated in Melbourne and from 1971 until 1988 was employed in a number of public art galleries and museums in Victoria and New South Wales. He has been a freelance writer since 1988, including periods as art critic for The Age and editor of Art Monthly Australia. He writes regularly for publications both in Australia and overseas. His books include Australian Studio Potter, The Nature of Gardens, Making Nature: Six Walks in the Bush, What's Wrong with Contemporary Art?, Philip Wolfhagen and Australia's Quarter Acre.