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Curtains - Paradise Bird Design on Linen by G&P Baker of London, c. 1918 - c. 1936

From the Collection of Kew Historical Society Inc 1 Civic Drive Kew Victoria

A pair of curtains originally situated in one of the front reception rooms of 'Tourmont' in Balwyn Road, Balwyn (now Fintona Girls’ School). The fabric in the curtains was manufactured by the English firm of GP&J Baker. The textile design is variably named as ‘Paradise Bird’ or more recently, ‘Hydrangea Bird’. William Turner, a Scottish born free-lance designer, who was contracted to GP&J Baker, painted the image on which the design was based in 1918. Turner had trained as a furniture designer before leaving for London in the 1890s, where he rose to prominence as an Arts & Crafts designer. The bird that gives this design its name is adapted from Robert Havell’s ‘A Collection of Birds of Paradise’, published in 1835, and was a favourite of Victorian chintz designers. Turner’s bird perches in a blossoming branch directly above a woodpecker, which is an attribute of Mars, god of war. Thus the design reads as a symbolic statement where War is reversed and Paradise returns (a hopeful message at the end of WWI). “Paradise Bird” has been in continuous production since its creation. The hand-block print, of which these curtains are an early example, was supplemented by a version engraved on copper rollers in 1962, and was updated onto screens in 1982.
Object Registration
When Made
ca. 1918 - ca. 1936
Made By
GP&J Baker (Maker)
The curtains have significance to the collection because of their intrinsic value and for the link to one of the major houses in the City of Boroondara. The curtains by G.P & J Baker of London use one of the most traditional designs in this manufacturer’s output. The first use of the design was in 1918, following the Great War, and the design is said to reflect the hope for peace which was a feature of the postwar years. The curtains are an early example of the design, and were block printed. Tourmont is a A-listed mansion in Balwyn, originally designed by John Beswicke for the shipping magnate David York Syme in 1891. While the curtains cannot be dated to the original occupancy of the house, they may date from before Syme’s death in 1934.
Last updated
31 Mar 2020 at 10:37AM