Guild of Housewives


Guild Unlimited

works | history | future

Shaelene Murray

primary care givers, home maintainers
Patron Saint

Domestic armour stainless steel apron with embroidery and trim, 2001 (photograph Ian Hobbs)

Proposed investiture of new Guild
Long hours, no wages, no annual or sick leave, no retirement plan
Essential requirements
Humour, strength, stamina, selfless dedication
Support system
No official guild support
Primary support
Self or like members
No official induction/training

‘Domestic Armour’

The apron has long been the uniform of the housewife/mother. A shield that serves to protect and commemorate the experience and activities of the everyday.

By definition, armour serves as both an offensive and defensive device. A steel apron, ‘domestic armour’, should, therefore, not only protect the wearer from the duress of the office, but also act as political agent, questioning the stereotype of the office itself.
Throughout the making of the work, the aprons increasingly developed as an interface or ‘girdle’ between the housewife/mother and the occupying forces (the family)—the aprons becoming as much a layered construction of domestic memory, as symbolic of the mothering role.

The stainless steel paradoxically defies its initial reading of strength and resilience. Redefined as cloth, it is now vulnerable to every impact and serves as witness to wear and tear. The iconographic embroidery heralds life experience, a catechism of lessons learnt.

Shaelene Murray studied ceramics at East Sydney TAFE before doing a course in jewellery at Randwick TAFE, followed by a degree in Visual Art and Sydney College of the Arts. She has exhibited in both ceramics and glass exhibitions and was one of the first artists to exhibit at the Object Galleries. Shaelene lives in Sydney.