Dr Claire I R O'Mahony
Having joined the Department for Continuing Education in 2006, I created the MSt in the History of Design Programme for which I am Course Director. I served as Director of Graduate Studies for the Department for Continuing Education (2013-16). I am also an Associate of the History Faculty. I was a Governing Body Fellow of Kellogg College (2006-19) where I served as Admissions Tutor (2011-3).
Whilst researching my doctorate under the supervision of Professor John House at the Courtauld Institute, Municipality and the Mural: Townhall Decoration in Third Republic France, I taught at the Courtauld, Birkbeck College, Reading and Thames Valley. My other roles have included of Director of History of Art Lifelong Learning at the University of Bristol (2002-7), Curator for 'Brunel and the Art of Invention' exhibition Bristol City Art Gallery (Brunel 200 project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund) 2006, Education Officer for Community and Secondary School groups at the Courtauld Gallery and Exhibition researcher at the Richard Green Galleries London, founding Assistant Editor of Art on the Line, member of the Centre for the Study of Visual and Literary Cultures in France, University of Bristol (2002-7).
As part of my service as Chair of the Design History Society (2019-22), I was Honorary Officer and Trustee of the Charity and an Editor of the Journal of Design History. I previously served as Research Grant Coordinator (2004-2008) for the DHS.
My teaching addresses the history of art and design (1848-1968). I am Course Director of the Master of Studies programme in the History of Design, taught part-time over two years. This vodcast 'Design not Words: Five Suffragette Objects' gives a glimpse of the research into the material cultures of the Suffragette cause undertaken by MSt in the History of Design students since 2011. Over 80 MSt dissertations have been successfully completed by my supervisees in my care.
At present I am helping to supervise three doctoral projects: one looking at nineteenth-century building materials (Lily Crowther with lead supervisor Professor William Whyte in the History Faculty), an exploration of the adaptive re-use of historic miltary and religious built environments into new purposes (MInna Colakis with lead supervisor Professor William Whyte in the History Faculty) and a study of luxury ocean liner interiors 1889-1914 (Michalis Foustanos with Dr David Lewis in the Department's Architectural History part-time DPhil programme). My supervisee Emma Anderson completed her DPhil in Architectural History on turn-of-the century luxury hotels in London in 2020. I welcome proposals from prospective doctoral candidates seeking to research visual and material cultures and design produced in Europe between 1870 and 1968.
My research centres on the history of decoration in Europe between 1870 and 1968; Third and Fourth Republic France have been my primary focus. The relationships between design writing, materiality and the communication of private and public identity led me to a particular interest in the dialogue between local politics, decorative objects and interiors. Civic mural painting projects, glass, furniture, jewellery, tapestry, exhibition and theatre scenography have been the core case studies of my research. These sites and objects capture my engagement with debates about regional identity and leftist politics with particular acuity. The ways in which 'decoration' has been framed as a gendered and classed practice informs my investigations into the moral and pragmatic dilemmas between industrial processes, handicraft and belonging.
- 'Representations of Crafts' in Cultural History of Craft in the Modern Age (1920‒present). edited by Professor Emeritus Clive Edwards (contracted with Bloomsbury for 2023)
- 'Forging foam at the 1925 Paris Exhibition' chapter in collected volume The Senses and Interior Design edited by Professor John Potvin (in production Manchester University Press for 2022/3).
- ‘Billiard table’ in European Sports History in 100 Objects edited by Daphné Bolz and Michael Kruger WWU Münster (manuscript accepted by editors who are seeking publisher).
Published Books, Chapters and Articles:
- 'Introduction' and 'Chapter 7 Exhibitions and Display' in A Cultural History of Furniture (six-volume series) editor of modern period volume (Bloomsbury, 2022); co authors: Professor Anja Baumhoff (Hannover); Dr Antony Buxton; Dr Helena Chance (Buckingham); Professor Emeritus Clive Edwards (Loughborough); Professor Marjan Groot (Amsterdam); Professor Trevor Keeble (Portsmouth); Professor Penny Sparke (Kingston); Professor Emeritus Gregory Votolato (Buckingham, RCA).
- ‘Renaissance and Resistance: Modern French Tapestry and Collective Craft’ Journal of Modern Craft, 9(3), (Nov 2016) pp. 265-88
- 'Urbi et orbi': Decentralization and Design in Nancy's International Exposition of Eastern France 1909' chapter in volume edited by Dr Marta Filipova Culture of Exhibitions 1840-1940: Great Exhibitions at the Margins (Ashgate, 2015)
- 'War within the walls: Conflict and Citizenship in the Murals of the Hotel de Ville, Paris' Journal of War and Culture Studies, 6.1, (February, 2013) 6-23
- ‘The colony within: Cultural regeneration and the troubadours of Toulouse’s Capitole’ in K Griffiths and D Evans, eds., Institutions and Power in Nineteenth-century French Literature and Culture (SDN with Rodopi Press, 2011)
- 'Cubist Chameleons: André Mare, the camoufleurs, and the canons of art history’ Journal of War and Culture Studies, 3.1, (March, 2010) 11-35
- 'Subjective Objects' and 'René Lalique and the subjectification of the jewel' in O'Mahony, C, ed., Symbolist Objects: Materiality and Subjectivity at the Fin de siècle (High Wycombe: Rivendale Press, 2009) 8-13; 293-328
- 'Fin-de-siècle fantasy to the Western Front: The aesthetic gardens of Nancy', Garden History, 36.2, (November, 2008) 253-72
'La Maison d’un artiste: The Goncourts, the bibelot and fin-de-siècle interiority', Writers’ Houses and the Making of Memory, Harald Hendrix, ed. (London: Routledge, 2007) 187-202
'Special Issue Editor’s Introduction' and article '"Ma racine est au fond des bois": Gallé and Wood', Émile Gallé and La Loraine Artiste, special issue Art on the Line, 3, (2007) i-iv; 1-15
Brunel and the Art of Invention (Bristol: Sansom and Co, 2006) in conjunction with exhibition held Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, 15 April-18 June 2006
'The Function of Ornament: The Consolation of Design in the Industrial Age', Isambard Kingdom Brunel: In Love with the Impossible, Andrew Kelly, ed. (Bristol: Bristol Cultural Development Partnership, 2006)
'Modern Muses: representing the life model in fin-de-siècle France' Art on the Line, 1, (2003)
Public Service and Engagement
- Chair of the Design History Society, Associate Editor of the Journal of Design History, representative for DHS on Council for Higher Education in Art and Design (Sept 2019 to Sept 2022)
- Histories of Design for Disability (Oxford Online Reading List): ORLO an open-access digital teaching and learning resource I created for 2019 Disability History Month.
Selected Seminar and Conference Co-Convening and Mentoring, Papers and Public lectures
- Materiality and Mediation: Global Conversations Virtual Symposium convened by the College Art Association, the Design History Society, and the International Association of Word and Image Studies Tuesday 4th October 2022 (co-convened with Professor Grace Lees-Maffei, Professor Laurence Roussillon-Constanty)
'Folk Cultures and Modern Everyday Objects' (DHS seminar series co-convened with DHS Ambassador Wiktoria Kijowska (RCA) 18, 25 November and 2 December 2022)
Member of Scientific Committee convening Design and Transcience at Izmir Institute of Technology, Turkey (8-10 September 2022)
‘Modern Myths and Markets: Graphic Design Promoting MacBrayne Steamers in the West Highlands and Islands’ Annual Scottish Maritime History Conference, 21-22 June 2022
Hidden Histories: Gender in Design (DHS seminar series co-convened with DHS Ambassador Alex Bannister (Edinburgh) 7 April to 26 May 2022)
- Beyond borders: Towards a transnational World History of Design (DHS Virtual Symposium. 29 April 2022)
Politics and Play: A Tale of Two Tables’ Izmir University of Economics (invited lecture 8 April 2022)
- DHS Reading Groups 2022: Design History and Language Rights/Digital Humanities (convened by DHS Student representative Tai Cossich (RCA) and Anna Talley (Edinburgh) with my mentoring 8 Feb to Oct 2022)
Representing Craft/Crafting Representation: DHS Dialogues (convenor, fortnightly 20 January to 31 March 2022)
'In conversation with Dr Christine Chescinska: Design History and African Diasporas' (co-convened with Cher Potter MSt History of Design Oxford 2021, now Design Museum) and 'Remembering Things' For Art History Festival of the Arts at the National Galllery London (20-25 Sept 2021)
Member of Scientific Committee convening Memory Full? Reminagining the relations between Design and History hosted by the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel, Switzerland (2-4 September 2021)
Publishing Workshops (co-convened with Michaela Young and Fiona Anderson 27-31 August 2021)
Teaching and Learning, Design History and Practice in the Virtual Space (co-convened with Michaela Young and Fiona Anderson): Meeting the Challenges of Virtual Teaching (21 May 2021) ; Student-centred Learning Strategies (4 June 2021); Museums and Heritage (18 June 2021); Archives and Objects (2 July 2021)
DHS Student Forum Virtual Programme (convened by DHS Student representative Tai Cossich (RCA) with my mentoring): Design in Quarantine 20 October 2020; What is a Design Historian? (2 February 2021); DHS and Social Media (13 April 2021); Lightening Talks: Design + History + Practice (1 June 2021)
'Decoration’s Objects: Building a borderland microcosm amidst the 1925 Exposition' for Building-Object/Design-Architecture: Exploring Interconnections Conference 6 - 8th June 2019 Design History Society, the European Architectural History Network, and the Architecture, Space and Society Centre (Birkbeck).
‘Furnishing Modern Cultural Histories’ Modern Interiors Research Centre Kinston University (Invited lecture 30 January 2019)
- 14 December 2018 Design not Words: Five Suffragette Objects Kellogg College 1918-2018 Women in Public Life Centenary vodcasts
- ‘Art, Industrie, Pédagogie: Victor Prouvé et la broderie lorraine’ Tapisserie et arts textiles. Représentations des gestes et processus de création du XVIIIe au XXIe siècle, Cité internationale de la tapisserie et de l’art tissé d’Aubusson (16 November 2017 delivered in French)
- Mo Mo Wo Women's Creativity since the Modern Movement 1918-2018 EU Project Keynote Lecture Penelope in the Dark Years: Modern French Tapestry (September 2015)
- Design History Society Annual Conference 'Design for War and Peace' 4-6 September 2014 held in the Department for Continuing Education (films of 3 keynote lectures and 37 podcasts of academic papers)
- Rewley House Research Seminar 2014 Out of Chaos: cultural creativity amidst conflict
- Open Day lectures 2018 Why Design History?; 1878 and beyond: Paris Expositions
'Godmother' of the Olympe de Gouges tapestry project, Cercle de la Tapisserie d'Aubusson
Oxford University Student Union Nomination for Outstanding Tutor 2014
Oxford University Student Union Most Acclaimed Lecturer Teaching Award 2013
Pasold Fund Research Activity Grant in support of research into tapestry design for public buildings and ocean liners in Le Havre, Aubusson and Paris (2017).
Women in the Humanities Research Grant in support research trip to France exploring women's role in the modern tapestry revival (2015).
John Fell Fund grant in support of 'Design for War and Peace' 2014 Design History Society Conference and ensuing publication (2014).
Design History Society Research Conference Grants to support 'Revisiting the Rite' conference 2013 and Mid-Century Modernism conference 2012 both held at Kellogg College.