David Parr House – “What’s Your Space?”

Welcome to “What’s Your Space?”

What’s Your Space? encourages primary-aged children (ages 8 to 11) to think about design, making and aesthetic.

It has been created in celebration of the opening of the David Parr House in Cambridge

Enjoy the video, made in collaboration with the teenage #BeACreativeProducer team, and then use the resources below to explore design and making in the classroom or workshop setting. 

We’d love to see any rooms your create, so pls do get in touch! 

Who Was David Parr?

David Parr was a working-class Victorian decorative artist who worked for the Cambridge firm of artworkmen, F R Leach & Sons. He moved into 186 Gwydir Street, Cambridge in 1886.


What Kinds of Things Influenced the Work of David Parr?

David Parr learnt his many skills there, painting houses and churches with designs created by some of the best architects and designers in the country, including George Frederick Bodley, William Morris and Charles Eamer Kempe.

Over 40 years, David Parr decorated his own terraced home in the style of the grand interiors he worked on every day. His house became a pattern book of the work of late 19th century masters, including William Morris, perfectly crafted and painted with care. In 1912, David Parr inscribed ‘If you do anything, do it well’ in his house, and his patterned, hand-painted walls are a testament to that maxim and to the values of the Arts & Crafts movement in general.*

What Does “Aesthetic” Mean?

The room in the David Parr video above shows a very strong aesthetic sense which owes a great deal to the Arts & Crafts Movement.The Arts & Crafts movement was a reaction to industrialisation, to big business and mechanisation. The decorative arts and craftsmanship were ways of reconnecting people to the places they lived and worked.*

The word Aesthetic can be defined as “If you like a certain type of interior design, or art form, or particular band, or even a certain colour … that is your aesthetic.” Find more definitions at https://www.dictionary.com/browse/aesthetic

*From https://davidparrhouse.org/discover/ 

Find out more about David Parr House

Now It's Your Turn! The David Parr Challenge

Now it’s your turn to think about how you might like to design and make a model room (some architects and designers call them “maquettes” – the French word for scale model), which is about YOUR aesthetic.

Use the resources below as starting points, and think about these questions…

Imagine YOU had a room to furnish…

At the moment it is completely bare, and you have the freedom to choose how it is going to look and feel (perhaps even smell and sound!).

How would you furnish it?

What kinds of things do you like, and how would they influence the way you decorate your walls, the way you design your furniture, the things you collect and display?

How would you want the room to “feel” as you entered it?

Who would you share the space with, and how would their needs and likes be accommodated?

How would you pack the room full of your personality?

To Start…

Find or make a cardboard box which can be your “room”

Think about:

The Walls:

Will you make wallpaper? Cover them in pictures? Collage, Draw, Paint, Print? Keep them plain?

The Furniture:

What kinds of furniture will you design and make? Which materials will you use? What kind of mood would you like to create?

The Floor:

Carpet, wood, tiles, stone, plastic?

Objects and Furnishings:

How will you let your hobbies and the things you like influence the objects and furnishings in your room?

Remember this is YOUR space and YOUR chance to explore and share YOUR aesthetic. Enjoy!

Be Inspired by These Resources

Be Inspired by Frederick Leach

Resources which explore the gothic revival

Resources for all ages inspired by the firm David Parr worked for. Four craft techniques: pouncing, tessellating, gilding and painting on glass, in a historical context, inspired by works of Victorian craft master Frederick Leach.

many thanks to AccessArt Young Artists:

Alex Tunstall

Rowan briggs Smith

Imogen Ransome

This is a sample of a resource created by UK Charity AccessArt. We have over 1100 resources to help develop and inspire your creative thinking, practice and teaching.

AccessArt welcomes artists, educators, teachers and parents both in the UK and overseas.

We believe everyone has the right to be creative and by working together and sharing ideas we can enable everyone to reach their creative potential.

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