A Lady's Writing Room, Turin, 1902

By the early 1900s, the McNairs had exhibited regularly on the Continent - in Paris, Venice, and at the Vienna Secession. In 1902 they presented their most ambitious exhibition installation, ‘A Lady’s Writing Room’, as part of the Scottish exhibit coordinated by Francis Newbery for the prestigious International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art, Turin.

The room setting combined existing work and new designs in a setting which showcased their range and skills as artist-designers of equal ability. The unifying theme was words, both written and read, expressed through the writing desk, bookplates, narrative watercolours, and the imagery of fledgling birds symbolising young minds eager to learn. Despite critical acclaim, however, the Scottish Section secured few sales and no significant commissions.

The Turin Room has been meticulously recreated for the exhibition Doves and Dreams under the direction of Jo Hormuth, Chicago Architectural Arts. Ms. Hormuth interpreted the room and produced the designs for the stencilled frieze, textiles and leaded glass windows based on period photos, drawings, written documents, and surviving artifacts.