Margaret Watkins: Beauty in the Domestic

Believed to be one of the first woman photographers to work in the commercial world of advertising, Margaret Watkins’ modernist work of the early 20th century often featured ordinary objects.   Watkins lived a solitary and unconventional life, details of which were reflected in her work.The Kitchen Sink‘ (1919) had a mixed reception in its time as it featured a sink filled with unwashed crockery.

“This work questions the notion of home as a woman’s place that must be kept spotless at all times, especially when shown to outsiders. “Domesticated to death,” as she once described herself, Watkins points to how hard it was for women in her day to free themselves from that role and gain independence.” (Available at: 150 Years, 150 Works)

This photograph shows a porcelain kitchen sink in close-up. In the sink are a plate, a cup, a cream pitcher, a knife and two glass bottles. The spout of a metal teakettle at the right of the photo counterbalances the metal faucet in the upper left corner.
Margaret Watkins
The Kitchen Sink (c. 1919)
Available at: https://150ans150oeuvres.uqam.ca/en/artwork/1919-the-kitchen-sink-by-margaret-watkins/#description

 

Margaret Watkins
Still-life – Shower Hose
1919
Available at: https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artwork/still-life-shower-hose

Margaret Watkins died in 1969 in Glasgow, having left her photographs to a neighbour.  Her work has since featured in exhibitions and on a postage stamp for Canada in 2013.

All links accessed 24 November 2018