Patty Carroll: Anonymous Women

Patty Carroll’s long running series Anonymous Women is frighteningly brilliant. When a friend first shared a video of herself flicking through the iconic photo series it was love at first sight. It took a while to find my own copy (the sharer had mistakenly tagged the book as Patty Clarke, attempts to google which saw me repeatedly redirected to Paddy Clarke, a wedding photographer in Dundalk) but when it finally arrived it was better than I could have imagined.

Carroll’s images capture something very real about the relationship between women and their homes. The emotions that we feel in relation to domesticity – stress, pride, freedom, resentment – are depicted with a level of accuracy rare in a still life series devoid of facial expression. Carroll has said that she wanted to explore the “idealisation that we all have of the housewife and domestic life as being this perfect example of how things are supposed to be” which of course it never is. The work is a perfect bundle of contradictions; comic yet tragic, surreal yet sharp. It offers us insight; to the women in control of their homes and the women controlled by their homes. It shows us how the tasks that traditionally fall to a woman can take over her entire being be that remodelling a home, planning a wedding or executing the perfect picnic and yet each mannequin remains imbued with a strong sense of personality and individual style. The series is inspired. I’ll keep it forever.


“Draped is about becoming the dwelling itself: experiencing the dichotomy of domesticity. The home is a place of comfort but can also be camouflage for individual identity when idealised decor becomes an obsession, or indication of position or status”.


“In this series, the woman performs domestic trickery while trapped by her objects and obsessions”.


“Demise is about the Anonymous Woman’s failure as she gives in to the dwelling. Her activities, obsessions and objects are overwhelming her. Her home has become a site of tragedy. This is the heartbreaking end of the Anonymous Woman”.

Anonymous Women can be purchased via Blackwells – limited quantities available. 

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