Guest Post – The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture

image1-17

Hello! I’m back with another guest post for Curate Your Own Adventure. This time I’m discussing The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture exhibition, currently on show at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne. This exhibition commemorates the seventieth anniversary of the Dior fashion house, one of the most iconic couture fashion houses in the world. I’m going to try and keep this brief, as most of what I have to say simply constitutes raving about how good the exhibition is and encouraging you to visit it yourself.

I made a special trip to Melbourne from Sydney to see the exhibition, which had been on my list since it was first announced earlier in the year. I had to roll my eyes at yet ANOTHER exhibition opening exclusively in Melbourne. There seems to be a real trend for ‘exhibition exclusivity’ south of the border at the moment. My visit was probably affected to some extent by the weekend we had selected – beginning of school holidays and football finals. It was a very busy weekend in the city. I had been warned to expect the Gallery to be very busy, and had already pre-purchased our exhibition tickets online a week in advance, which I thought was the done thing. Note the tickets are not timed but are valid for a specific date. Apparently, no one else bought their tickets online because the queue to buy tickets at the gallery was obscenely long. We arrived at the Gallery shortly after opening time at about 10:15am and there were at least 100 people queueing to buy tickets. The queue had at least doubled by the time we exited. We happily skipped this queue and entered the exhibition, where we quickly discovered another queue just to get into the first room. I have been to more than my fair share of exhibitions in my time in Australia and overseas, and never have I encountered one as busy as this. Again, this might have had something to do with the date we visited, however it was still insanely busy. I was glad to see so many people out enjoying some culture. Because of how busy it was, my experience of the exhibition was different to normal as I was unable to read the majority of the labels and description panels due to the sheer number of people in the rooms. Again, it remains a mystery to me why tickets were not timed. So, instead of gaining a lot of background knowledge on the topic being displayed, my visit focused on enjoying the clothes and other objects on display as pieces of art. This would usually annoy me, but given the subject matter and how beautiful the objects were, I don’t feel it diminished my experience.

I won’t go through each element of the exhibition, all of the objects or the display, simply because it was too vast for me to meaningfully discuss, and it was too well done and thoughtfully curated for me to be able to do it justice. The incredible thought and detail that has gone into this exhibition and the display is truly some of the best I have seen and something to aspire to. It was obvious that no expense had been spared, from the sheer scale to the commissioning of new pieces and special millinery for the exhibition. The curation really did the subject and objects justice.

The exhibition covers all aspects of Dior’s operations and history, meaning that there are pieces from each creative director on show, which really made the creative evolution of the brand clear, as well as clothes, shoes, hats and perfume. One of my favourite rooms was that which displayed dozens of pairs of shoes and hats as if they were in shop windows, along with some of the iconic Dior perfumes in their original vintage packaging. Another favourite room was the final room of the exhibition. This room was circular, and displayed outfits on mannequins all around the circumference of the room, along with a number of outfits displayed on a revolving centre platform. This display meant that you could stand in one place and have the outfits pass by in front of you. This room and display reminded me of how I imagine a 1950’s department store (think the modelling scenes in How to Marry a Millionaire starring Marilyn Monroe). This room was probably my favourite as it displayed some of the most extravagant and classic Haute Couture pieces – mostly ball gowns and incredibly spectacular outfits that would only ever be appropriate for the red carpet or a white tie event.

Another element of the exhibition definitely worth mentioning was a small section discussing the first Dior collection to visit Australia, which occurred in 1948. This landmark visit had a lasting effect on both the Australian fashion industry and the house of Dior. This section had original programs and images from the fashion parades that took place which was really interesting for anyone interested in vintage fashion. It was just a shame that this section was quite small and in a hallway between two larger rooms, but it was nice to see this history and connection acknowledged.

I have included some pictures I took at the exhibition, but given how crowded it was it was quite difficult to take any at all, let alone attempt to capture the real beauty of the clothes and the displays. Seriously, these pictures and my description does not nearly do this exhibition justice. I can only implore you to visit it yourself if you have the opportunity. The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture is currently showing at the NGV International (if you are unfamiliar with the NGV, it is spread across two separate locations. Dior is showing at St Kilda Road, not Federation Square) until November 7th. There are also sister exhibitions currently on display in Paris and New York if you find yourself there instead. Enjoy!

image2-19image3-21image4-23

image5-25

Clever display – a mirror underneath the dress allowed visitors to see the underskirt of the dress

image6-27image7-29image8-31image10-35

image9-33

Vintage Perfumes

image11-37

Miranda Kerr’s custom 2017 Wedding Dress

image12-39image13-41image14-43

 

 

This post was written by Imogen Kennard-King: Imogenkennard.king@gmail.com.

A huge thank you to Imogen for again sharing her wonderful thoughts on exhibitions!

How I Ended Up Here – GLAM Blog Club

It has been way too long since I’ve written a post for GLAM Blog Club. This month, the theme is How I Ended Up Here. Not only does this allow for some great feelings of nostalgia, but also, time to reflect on my journey. It’s so easy to get caught up in the present or dread/fear/anticipate the future. How often do you take the time to sit down and really just remember where you started and how far you’ve come? I’m hoping that by writing this blog post, I can take the time to feel proud of what I’ve accomplished. I also hope that if you’re reading this post, you can also take some time out of your day to do the same.

Ok, so my story begins all the way back in primary school. Visiting museums was, for me, the best excursion ever. Seeing all the cool dinosaur bones and dioramas at the Queensland Museum is something that I can still so vividly remember. Especially seeing the two large dinosaurs that were and still are outside the museum in an outdoors area. My other hazy memories of museums and art galleries include visiting the Queensland Art Gallery and completing just about every school holiday activity I could find. I grew up really valuing museums and this is something that would continue.

800px-Try-and-Tri

By Figaro at en.wikipedia (Own work Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

 I’m going to skip ahead to my first year of University. History was my absolute favourite subject in school so it made sense to enrol in a Bachelor of Arts/Social Science at the University of Queensland majoring in history. I eventually dropped the latter in order to focus more on my Bachelor of Arts. After trying almost every elective, I settled on a German language/culture minor. What proved to be an extremely good choice as it allowed me to spend some time/fall in love with Berlin. While I enjoyed studying history, I was more interested in how history is presented and how you can use objects to tell stories.

800px-University_of_Queensland

Sedination at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 One day, during my first exam period, I was procrastinating and googled every museum in Brisbane just to see if they accepted volunteers. I found the MacArthur World War II Museum in the City and thought it would be a cool place to start gaining some museum experience. For about two years, this was my only volunteering gig. I would go in every Saturday and help with welcoming visitors, running tours, etc.

It encouraged me to apply for a 2013 history scholarship at the University of Queensland which involved curating a display case in the Queensland Parliament Library. I loved writing labels for an exhibition about international exhibitions. It was meta, it allowed me to reach out to the community, and, most importantly, it meant I could learn a lot about Queensland’s history from rare books and manuscripts.

1654014_10153796793515261_362746295_n

Queensland Parliament Library Display Case

After this scholarship, I started my honours year writing on memorialisation of the 1692 Salem Witchcraft Trials. I wanted another volunteering opportunity so I could balance my time and feel like I was actually using my skills. I was absolutely thrilled when the Queensland Police Museum gave me the wonderful opportunity to work with and publish parts of their textile collection. It sparked a long-lasting love of historical textiles. At this stage, I was pretty confident that I wanted to study Museum and Heritage Studies. The University of Queensland had a course, but I wanted to try something new. I sent my application to the University of Sydney and was accepted to start studying mid-2015. In the six months leading up to me moving inter-state, I worked and volunteered almost everyday to build my experience and learn everything I could possibly want to know.

1609937_10154762080445261_4677643580652674916_n

My Honours Thesis

I continued volunteering at the Police Museum. I also started volunteering at the Commissariat Store Museum (a convict museum in Brisbane) and the Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology in Caboolture. It was a very tiring six months but I am so glad I took the time to really get a grip on what I was going to study.

Then I moved to Sydney. One of the best decisions I have ever made. After a month of living in Sydney I got my first paid job in the museum/heritage sector as an education tour guide on Cockatoo Island. I still remember how excited I was when I got the job as this was really my first paid job doing what I loved. After my first semester, I boarded a plane to Melbourne to intern at the Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History. Here, I developed a love of medical objects/history and learnt so much from my supervisor, Monica Cronin. It was during this internship that I realised this kind of work was exactly what I wanted to do and there was no going back.

19380022_1718546178159576_2491146469801721856_n

Cockatoo Island

11252737_708452815922774_232218505_n

Cockatoo Island

 

Geoffrey Kaye copy

Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History

For about a year, I held seven casual/part time jobs in museums and at heritage places (see About Me or my Extended CV for a list!). I did so because casual work was really all over the place and I needed to piece together something that resembled a full-time job. The stress of filling out rosters, ensuring I had enough hours, was insane. This was all worth it in the end. I gained so much experience in so many different areas I was confident and prepared to go for something more permanent.

In August this year, I started my role as Exhibitions and Education Officer at the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum. In just a couple of months, I have already had so many incredible opportunities. I can’t wait for the years ahead.

21272171_10159294393050261_9020350515498658380_n

Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum

That’s my long-winded How I Ended Up Here story. I could not have ended up here without the support of oh so many people. At the risk of turning this into an Golden Globes acceptance speech, you know who you are and I thank you. I am incredibly proud to be in this industry and to have ended up exactly where I am.

Samford Village Heritage Trail

Before I begin this blog post I must be entirely honest. When we visited Samford Village today, located 30 mins outside Brisbane, we were visiting for one reason – the Harry Potter Store of Requirements. It was literally a magical place.

After purchasing everything Hufflepuff we could find, we decided to walk around the Village. There was this one building that had a sign out the front with an old photograph, some information, and a number. Intrigued, I walked across to the information centre in John Scott park to find out more. Here I was given a Samford Village Heritage Trail brochure. It is a very detailed brochure containing thirteen places of interest and a museum.

I was very impressed with the brochure. It starts with the history of Indigenous occupation in the area. A respectful way to begin the brochure yet I was unsure where this history had been sourced and whether there was any collaboration with Indigenous groups in the area. It also ended very abruptly and I was interested to know if there was any continuing Indigenous presence.

We tried our best to visit all thirteen locations. They can all be reached on foot and are located on either Main Street or Station Road. I am just going to cover the sites that we did visit. At the end of the post, I will list the other locations.

1. John Scott Park

The brochure contains some wonderful heritage photographs credited to both individuals and the Samford Historical Museum Collection. It is clear that there was a lot of community involvement that went into producing this tour. John Scott park was absolutely thriving when we visited. There were families celebrating birthdays and dogs running around. It was a really beautiful park and so great to see it is still heavily used by the community. In the middle of the park was a large stage which was part of the old Rotary Station.

Originally, the park was part of the railway station and yards. In 1955, after the railway station had closed, a petition was sent to the Pine Rivers Council to transform the land into a public park. After meeting with the State Government, the decision was made to create a recreational and sports reserve. From what we could see, this use has continued today.

2. Samford Valley Hotel

A place which I imagine has amazing Chicken Schnitzel. The Hotel was the first licensed premises in the area built on the land that once had the village’s first bakery. It has survived numerous name changes and numerous changes in ownership. There is a beautiful kerosene lamp at the front that was once turned on by a switch at the bar to welcome patrons in.

3. English Scottish and Australian Bank

This is the first building we saw with the sign out the front. It is a very cute little building that has an interesting story attached. On October 11, 1948, members of staff were held up at gunpoint by robbers. They were placed and sealed in an airtight vault. A nearby resident, Estelle Nelson, thought something strange was going on at the bank so alerted police. After witness statements were collected, they managed to find and arrest those involved.

The bank eventually merged with ANZ in 1970 and moved to a different building.

4. Samford Farmers’ Hall

When driving into the Village, this building was hard to miss. It is huge and painted a very sweet lilac colour. It is a fun building too, that was used for dance parties and community events. Opening in 1918, it replaced the old and much smaller community centre. Since the railway line was bringing in people all the time, the decision was made to have a venue that would hold cultural events as well as parties and dinners. It would have been pretty magnificent during this time.

Today, it is still used as a community centre with businesses able to rent out parts of the building.

5. Cash Avenue

Today Cash Avenue is just a normal looking street. It was, however, where the train line ran through the Village. The train not only provided Samford Village with trade opportunities, but allowed city residents to visit the country village and “fill their lungs with Samford Valley country air.”

6. RSL Memorial Park

Where ANZAC services were and continued to be held every year on 25 April. Right at the back of the park is the century-old schoolmaster’s house from Samford State School that was moved and renovated in 2006.

We finished the tour there as it was getting blisteringly hot and the air conditioning in our car was so tempting. Considering the old buildings in Samford Village really do stand out amongst the rest, it was a nice way to see the town from this historical perspective. Might as well add some history to your morning or afternoon stroll!

Other locations:

1. Samford District Historical Museum

2. Samford Railway Station and Goods Yard

3. Williamson’s Butcher Shop

4. Samford Garage

5. Samford Public Hall

6. Weise’s General Store and Post Office

7. Samford Rural Fire Brigade

Tastes Like Sunshine – Museum of Brisbane

My plan was to see Tastes Like Sunshine later this month, however, an opportunity arose today. After 100% Brisbane, I was expecting a lot from the new exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane. While the exhibition was not to the same standard, it was still enjoyable and included some wonderful information and artworks. I am going to provide an overview of the exhibition then delve into a couple of different aspects.

IMG_0965

According to their website, the exhibition seeks to explore the “flavoursome” side of Brisbane, revealing an evolving food story. This story is told through contemporary art, personal stories, historical documents, and images. Slavery, Indigenous culture, immigration, history of food markets, and food production in Queensland were all addressed within the space. On top of this, issues of environmental degredation and the treatment of animals were also tackled. Needless to say, this exhibition had a huge amount of content to display.

The actual space containing the exhibition was not large at all. It took us around 30 minutes to walk from one end to the other – and this included stopping to read the labels. I am going to highlight a few of my favourite things about the exhibition.

  • The Wallpaper

On first entering the space, you see this absolutely incredible wallpaper designed by artist Elizabeth Willing.

IMG_0968

The title of the work is Strawberry Thief (after William Morris). The foods included in the wallpaper are local Indigenous foods – macadamia nut, bunya nut, lilly pilly, finger lime, and Moreton Bay bug. The work, therefore, merges this European heritage with local Indigenous knowledge/culture. It’s a striking way to start the exhibition considering it’s pasted on four massive walls. Also, it has a strong message – Brisbane’s food history is layered with different cultures who have all contributed to what we eat today.

  • Untitled (toasted marshmellows)

Near the entrance is this very unusal looking artwork.

IMG_1027

After reading the label, I thought surely these are fake. They are not. These are the actual skins of marshmellows that have been toasted. It is bizarre and I love it. One of those fantastic pieces of art that you have to see up close to really believe it is what the label says.

  • Produce Cartons

Sean Rafferty created this colourful wall of produce cartons.

IMG_1013IMG_0998

Similar to the wallpaper, it is aesthetically amazing. Also, there is a lovely story behind the installation. Rafferty was commissioned by the Museum of Brisbane to produce two artworks for the exhibition. After talking to farmers, wholesalers, and distributors at Brisbane’s Rocklea markets, he developed this idea of sharing the produce of Queensland through the carton boxes that carry it from farm to market. It is a great snapshot at the types of food that are grown and distributed in this State.

On display next to the boxes is a historical map of Roma Street food markets. It is lovely to see this historical document juxtaposed with the contemporary art installation.

IMG_1007

  • South Sea Islanders and Sugar Cane

Towards the back of the exhibition is the story of the South Sea Islanders ’employed’ by plantation owners in Queensland as a source of cheap labour. Between 1863 and 1904, it is estimated that approximately 62 000 South Sea Islanders came to Queensland. Some were coerced or forced to work on the sugar plantations in a practice known as ‘blackbirding’. By 1901, most were deported. Those who continued to live in Queensland were formally recognised in 2000 as a distinct community group that has contributed to the development of Queensland.

IMG_1030

  • Food Futures

Right at the end of the exhibition is a space called Food Futures. This space looks at the impact of growing food on the environment and how the future of food in Brisbane may evolve further. In this space there are three interactive touch screens that allow you to answer 12 questions and discover if your inner self is a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, plus two other options I can’t remember. Once you have your answer, you can take a sticker with your result. It is fun and it makes you think – what more could you want.

Overall, the exhibition is a nice mix of history and art, shedding some light on the history of food in Brisbane. I think what worked best in the exhibition space was the intertwining of historical documents, contemporary art, photographs, and digital technology. The exhibition, however, tried to do too much in a very small space. Unlike 100% Brisbane which was amazingly inclusive, I feel as though this exhibition would have excluded so many from the narrative purely because of its scale. Perhaps if it was more focused on the food of the region as shown through contemporary art it may have reached its aim a little more successfully. It was an exhibition that bit off a bit more than it could chew – pun absolutely intended.

Regardless, it was a lovely visit to the museum. I even saw some of the new Easton Pearson collection that, intended or not, suited the exhibition themes. For example, there was a lovely top with pineapples printed on the fabric. I really enjoy visiting the Museumo of Brisbane so no doubt I will return shortly to write another review!

Over the Hill – Gladstone Heritage Walking Tour

In October 2016, I attended the ICOMOS & National Trusts of Australia Conference in Melbourne. One of the many talks that really hit a nerve was on the topic of heritage and significance statements. The speaker was trying to push the point that a building is never frozen in time. Rather, it changes, it adapts, and it gains new significance. When I moved to Gladstone I found the brochure (pictured above) and was intrigued as to this heritage walking tour of the city centre. After walking Goondoon Street this morning and seeing all the buildings and their decals on the footpath, I believe this tour is achieving that balance between exploring a building’s past, yet cementing it in the present.

The walking tour took me about 45 minutes. This is because I kept stopping to take photographs and read the brochure that contains information on each of the ten buildings. I am absolutely amazed and thrilled by the fact that Gladstone has kept quite a few of its heritage buildings and has even listed some on the Queensland Heritage Register. The following post will look at each building individually, commenting on its past and its present. It should also be noted that the art decals were produced by an incredible local aritst, Geoffrey Head. They are stuck on the footpath outside each of the buildings allowing people walking by to stop and read some history.

1 Goondoon Street

Then: The Port Curtis Aquatic Club

Now: Gladstone Yacht Club

The Port Curtis Aquatic Club was established in 1941. Its aim was to grow the sport of sailing in Gladstone. This building was the club house, finished in March 1959. The building’s floors were made from Calliope River gum trees, donated after a cyclone hit the area in 1949. In the mid-1970s, the building became the Gladstone Yacht Club – a very popular venue during the annual Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race. It is now listed on the Queensland Heritage Register. Side note: they also do an amazing chicken schnitzel – speaking from personal experience.

21272166_10159294393040261_6441130025863855334_n21314335_10159294393055261_1437927576765142152_n

4 Goondoon Street

Then: Private Residence and Metropolitan Hotel

Now: Phone Repair Business

Originally the location of a private residence, this area of land once was home to the Metropolitan Hotel. According to first licensee, Samuel Evans, “it [was] a quiet retreat [with] moderate charges.” Unfortunately the building burned down in 1910. Although fire fighters were quick to the blaze, the age of the building and lack of water supply meant it was destroyed. Mr Golding, who was a member of the volunteer fire brigade, purchased the land building five houses. This is one of the surviving houses.

21272558_10159294393035261_8430522775914678206_n21369176_10159294393045261_6887007565304033649_n

7 Goondoon Street

Then: Gladstone Town Hall and Returned Services League Clubhouse

Now: For Sale

One of the area’s oldest buildings, this was the original Town Hall of Gladstone. When the new hall was built in 1934, it became the Returned Services League or RSL. The foundation stone was laid on 28 November 1868. It served as the civic chamber for a total of 64 years! It then became the RSL, which unfortunately closed in 2003. Its future is pending so I will be watching this space closely. A beautiful building with so much history and intrigue. For example, coins of the realm and a copy of the earliest Gladstone Observer are said to be built into the walls, however, have never been found.

21192835_10159294393135261_5793817615921167098_n21231699_10159294393140261_349779868081598352_n

14 Goondoon Street

Then: Private Residence (?)

Now: Law Offices

This house has been restored to as close to its original appearance as possible giving it the nickname “Grandma’s House”. More research is currently underway as to its original function.

21272572_10159294393125261_5643556523444133041_n21192831_10159294393120261_573986877594623951_n

33 Goondoon Street

Then: Post Office

Now: Real Estate Offices

My second favourite building on the tour was the town’s first post office built in 1932. The original post office, however, was located in another area and was built in 1854. This building was a purpose-designed post office for the Commonwealth Postmaster General. What makes this building particularly significant is that only seven of the ‘twin porch’ post offices were ever built in Queensland. This is the only one with a clock tower. It was eventually sold to private businesses in 1997. A truly magnificant building.

21314364_10159294393220261_183239657298766219_n21192856_10159294393225261_6572150175014831677_n

 

40 Goondoon Street

Then: Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd Offices, Flats, Restaurant, and Law Offices

Now: Gladstone Ports Corporation Offices

This building has a long and interesting history. Originally built for the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd in 1911, it was sold in the early 1960s to Mr M. A. Busteed, a local businessman. The building became a group of flats called “Kullaroo House” – meaning ‘road that leads to water’ in a local Indigenous language. In the 1970s, it became offices for a law firm. Next it was a restaurant in the 1980s before being sold in 1993 to the Gladstone Port Authority, now Gladstone Ports Corpration.

21272126_10159294393230261_4954776002910415378_n21230937_10159294393210261_6627912609542004113_n

79 Goondoon Street

Then: Grand Hotel

Now: Grand Hotel

A building that has held the same business since 1898, the Grant Hotel once contained seventeen bedrooms, one sitting room, two bathrooms, one bar and a parlour room. Its purpose was to accommodate passengers moving to and from North Queensland for work. Although not all of the building is original, the widow’s walk right on top has remained intact. The rest of the building has been restored after a substantially damaging fire in 1993.

21317676_10159294393385261_5046587835412594554_n21192235_10159294393215261_510815397926153719_n

98 Goondoon Street

Then: Patrick’s Jewellers

Now: Patrick’s Jewellers

There is quite a horrific theme here of fire destroying buildings and this one is no exception. The first building opened in 1911 containing Patrick’s jewellers, owned and operated by Colin Patrick. A fire destroyed the original building in 1938, causing the Patrick family, who lived above, to flee with only their pyjamas on their backs. A new premises was eventually built and Patrick re-opened his jewellers. This store has been passed from generation to generation. The current owner, Noel, is the third generation of Patrick to run the store.

21314690_10159294393395261_1986043443198011605_n21192441_10159294393390261_7108916777233808972_n

114 Goondoon Street

Then: Commonwealth Bank Branch

Now: Private Business

This building was purchased for approximately $1, 000 (in today’s money) to build a branch for the Commonwealth Bank opening in 1927. It is a substantial two-storey “Spanish style” building that held the bank until 1972. It is now owned by a private business.

21231709_10159294393375261_7775657504120618988_n21192475_10159294393380261_8036516211644990877_n

144 Goondoon Street

Then: Town Hall and Municipal Chambers

Now: Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum

No bias here at all, but this is my favourite building of the lot. It was designed by Rockhampton architect Roy Chipps and built during the Great Depression to generate jobs and income for struggling families. It was opened on 15 September 1934. It operated as the Town Hall and Municipal Chambers. It also held the World War I Honour Board that was wheeled out every ANZAC Day for the ceremony. While the board still remains, the ceremony is now held in ANZAC Park. It was also a place of great entertainment with weekly movies, dances, parties, flower shows, weddings, and even held a children’s library. It was closed and eventually turned into the Art Gallery and Museum in 1985. This Art Deco building is absolutely stunning and I am grateful every single day that I can go through these doors into a hub of cultural and community activity.

21272171_10159294393050261_9020350515498658380_n21192881_10159294393575261_69724680831319533_n

This was such a wonderful way to spend my Sunday morning. It was also a great introduction to the heritage we have in the city centre!

Rockhampton Art Gallery

Greetings from the beautiful city of Gladstone! This is my third week working at the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum. My first couple of weeks have been nothing but incredible. I have learned everything from hanging artworks to lighting exhibitions. I have also guided three educaiton programs learning so much about the State Heritage Listed Town Hall and Council Chambers. I still have to pinch myself when I walk through the doors of the Art Deco building. I am unbelievably grateful to have been given this opportunity and I cannot wait to see how the role evolves over time.

On the topic of regional museums, last weekend I went on a road trip to Rockhampton. Located approximately 108 km from Gladstone, Rocky (affectionate nickname) is the fourth largest regional city in Queensland. There are quite a few heritage sites and museums in and around the city so watch this space for more Rockhampton-themed blog posts.

For my first time in the city, I decided to visit the Art Gallery. It’s right in the city centre, near the Fitzroy River. I wasn’t visiting to see a specific exhibition, I was more interested in seeing the venue and how they curated their exhibition spaces. Currently on show is: Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast.

21078407_10159266950940261_8260555140228609384_n21078663_10159266950960261_536334645916307635_n

According to the website, the exhibition is to celebrate some of the most iconic fashion images ever snapped. These have come from archives in New York, Milan, and Paris. While I absolutely adore fashion, fashion photography isn’t something I’d go out of my way to see. Considering it was a $10 admission fee just to see the exhibition, I have to admit I did hesitate.

In the end, I went in. The first thing you see when you enter the space is the introductory panel that is white writing on a black background. It was a strain to read, however, it was well lit. Right at the end of the panel, the text states that the exhibition is divded across two galleries – the one in Rockhampton and the one in Mackay. I was slightly nervous at this stage wondering how much exactly I would see and what I was missing.

You then enter a large room that has photographs and text divided by decades. For example, there was Recognition and Renewal – the 1980s to 2000s. These thematic panels were incredibly in-depth going through the history of Condé Nast and highlighting specific significant developments along the way.

21078345_10159266950980261_5616176206743069569_n

I spent more time admiring the textiles in the middle of the space. They were positioned well, allowing visitors to view each piece of clothing from all angles. I appreciated being able to see the reverse of the garment which is not always the case in textile exhibitions.

Then things got a little confusing. There were two ways to go, back out the door you came in (obviously not the way) or through a little door at the back of the room that wasn’t obviously a connection between exhibition spaces. On approaching the door, I saw a small sign indicating it was, in fact, the correct way. Through the door, you walk down a corridor, past the staff offices. I felt as though I had accidentally walked into a “staff only” area.

In saying this, it was nicely designed in that the wall opposite the offices displayed a chronology of cameras from some of the earliest to one’s used today. At the end of this space was a small cafe and a children’s play area which I thought was a real highlight. Having a play area and cafe away from the main exhibition, but, between the two rooms made the exhibition feel larger than it actually was. It is a pretty nifty way to extend an exhibition experience.

21106415_10159266951045261_5230560104310652741_n21191951_10159266951015261_4094491824509019628_n

21105982_10159266951075261_1152202719277937277_n

After walking through yet another door, I was in the final room of the exhibition. Considering it looked at ealier decades from the 1910s to the 1980s, it was definitely more enjoyable than the first room. The textiles in the middle were, again, the highlight. Especially this beautiful tartan dress!

21106456_10159266951215261_3734039259243345658_n

After walking around this room, I walked out the door expecting more to the exhibition. As I soon discovered, however, it was the end. Although small, the exhibition was well curated and it was very interesting to see how they were displayed and fixed to the wall.

I will say that the Gallery had a gift shop filled with treasures. I purchased a Guerilla Girls car air freshner (“to eliminate the smell of patriarchy”) and a doll wearing a mondrian dress. The latter is a handmade art piece and so cute I couldn’t resist.

Overall, I am very glad that I visited the Art Gallery and I can’t wait to see what they offer in the future. I did see a Watercolours and Wine event that had my name all over it.

There is so much to see and do here I cannot wait to explore more! On my list is definitely a few trips to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, swim with turtles and rays at Heron Island, see fossils in the Capricorn Caves and watch koalas sleep in the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. I am also unbelievably excited to see the new Museum of Brisbane exhibition – Tastes like Sunshine – when I visit Brisbane in late September.

For my next post, however, I am going to tkae you on a journey through the heritage buildings of central Gladstone. I hope to walk the route this weekend!

The Moderns: European Designers in Sydney

The Moderns: European Designers in Sydney is now showing at the Museum of Sydney until November 26, 2017. There is something about furniture and homewares from the 1930s to 1960s that just fills a small void in my life. It’s basically the transformation of furniture from verging on impractical to sleek and beautifully designed. In other words, this movement allowed simple to be magnificent.
IMG_0430

When I heard about this exhibition opening in Sydney I was very intrigued. We must have had some amazing designers around this period, but I’ve never heard their stories. Today was the day to educate myself and admire the men and women who often fled tumultuous circumstances in Europe to practice their craft and realise their designs.

The exhibition is located on Level 2 of the Museum of Sydney. Just before entering the space, there is a large thematic panel with the exhibition title in neon blue. Contained in a glass tube is a chair manufactured by George Karody. As the introductory panel states, modern Australian architecture is so often associated with Harry Seidler. Those that came before him are ignored and marginalised from the story. So already you feel as though it is going to be a different kind of modernist exhibition that tackles new material.

IMG_0432

The exhibition space allows you to select whatever path you wish to take. It is essentially set up to showcase the biographies of early designers and photographs/objects representing their work. The display cases are so perfectly designed to look like 1920s Art Deco pieces. Each designer has their own colour and section of the exhibition. Men and women are represented in the space which was great to see.

IMG_0456

Apart from the biography panels and cases, parts of the exhibition space were re-created rooms from Sydney houses. The furniture was all inspired or created by the designers and told the story of a particular family and their connection to the moderns.

That basically provides a nice overview of the entire exhibition space. See the photographs below for further layout information.

IMG_0434IMG_0458IMG_0466IMG_0468

The rest of the blog will focus on three designers that I found to be most interesting. Also, I’ll briefly discuss one of the house set ups that really caught my eye.

1. Susan Kozma-Orlay

Kozma-Orlay was born in 1913, in Budapest Hungary. After studying in Budapest, Stuttgart, and Vienna, she fled to Australia with her family having survived Nazi occupation. During her illustrious career, Kozma-Orlay worked for companies such as David Jones, designing graphics for their silk and textile patterns. She later moved into furntiure and interior design working closely with Stephen Gergely in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. Her earlier work is now on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

After reading about this amazing journey from Europe to Australia, you are then invited to see some of her designs both in pictorial form and as actual objects. The first image is of a beautiful drinks chest that has wheels attached for easy manouevring. My favourite object, however, was the samples book created for David Jones containing some of her designs.

What worked really well in this space was the use of backlighting to highlight specific images. By creating contrast with lights, the display was more visually appealing and your eyes were drawn to the most significant works.

IMG_0444IMG_0445

2 and 3. Oser and Fombertaux

Hans Oser was born in Austria, arriving in Sydney in 1938. Jean Fombertaux was born in France and arrived in Sydney three years earlier. In Sydney, the two formed a partnership utilising their design skills and producing late-international-style architecture.

Their work included the William Bland Centre on Macquarie Street and the BOAC Travel Centre on Castlereagh Street. The latter was included in the Royal Australian Institute of Architectus in 1971.

I have selected these personalities because the images that accompanied their stories were extremely powerful. In particular, seeing the Star of David added to one of the buildings made me reflect on the broader themes of the exhibition as well as take a moment to consider wider contexts.

They also produced some stunning interiors and the backlit photographs were difficult to miss when first entering the space.

IMG_0457

4. Room with Cocktail Cabinet

It is incredibly difficult to walk past this section of the exhibition and not fall immediately in love with the cocktail cabinet. The work is stunning and it is such a treasure piece of Art Deco. Also the wood is sourced from Queensland so a huge plus there.

IMG_0447

In saying this, there was another room with a great little story attached – the Schwartz House. The room panel explored the story of Laci and Magda Schwartz who emigrated to Sydney from Hungary and had George Reves design their house. This room is an example of their entertaining space where visitors could overlook Sydney Harbour. The story was going so well until the ending. The house was demolished in 2000, seriously heart breaking. All of this amazing modernist design and architecture no longer exists.

IMG_0453

Here are some of the other room displays:

IMG_0436IMG_0440

This level of design and the individuals who championed the modernist movement have been thoughtfully remembered in the exhibition space. I just wish more of these Art Deco properties and their interiors remained! For today, seeing the designs and products in a museum will have to do. I can dream that one day I’ll own a house that will be modernist designed from floor to ceiling.