Looking at Domestic Textiles: An Eye-Tracking Experiment Analysing Influences on Viewing Behaviour at Owlpen Manor

Benjamin W. Tatler*, Ross G. Macdonald, Tara Hamling, Catherine Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Decorative textiles were once ubiquitous and important, occupying a significant social and cultural space in the early modern interior, yet their impact upon how individuals engaged with domestic spaces is largely unknown. One way of approaching their impact is through an exploration of how present-day individuals engage visually with them in relation to other objects as they walk around an historic space. This article reports on one such investigation, an eye-tracking study which explored responses to the narrative hangings in Queen Margaret's Chamber at Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire. Using eye-tracking equipment, we compared the viewing behaviour of two groups of participants, to whom we gave key information before they entered the room. We found that both the expertise of the viewers and the information provided influenced their viewing behaviour. Our findings highlight the importance of individual understanding and information provided to viewers when engaging with historic spaces, and can inform museum and heritage practice as well as enhancing our comprehension of how viewers engage with such textiles in historic spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-118
Number of pages25
JournalTextile history
Issue number1
Early online date13 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

We are extremely grateful to Nicholas Mander, the owner of Owlpen Manor, for supporting the network, hosting this experiment (requiring considerable upheaval to his home) and for permission to feature these cloths and represent his research, published most recently as N. Mander, ‘The painted cloths at Owlpen Manor, Gloucestershire’, in N. Costaras and C. Young eds, Setting the Scene: European Painted Cloths from the Fourteenth to the Twenty-First Century (London: Archetype Publications, 2013), pp. 24–32.


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