The Dreamer & the Cheerful Thing
Some months after my grandfather Bob Snape’s death in 1977 I collected two old trunks full of memorabilia from his last home, in Sandringham.
What a treasure it turned out to be: jammed full of papers, comprising correspondence, diaries, short stories, a poem or two, much of it typed, some of it hand-written, some official-looking documents and some music scores roughly sorted into manila folders, and a variety of souvenirs and ephemera. There were also half a dozen ordnance maps, aerial photographs of some Western Front battlefields and some battered old albums containing postcards, of WW1 France and Belgium, but also of England and Wales. These have since been catalogued on the Warrnambool RSL Victorian Collections page.
Bob’s treasure trove tells the story of his experiences during the war, and that of his younger brother Harold who also fought. Bob was a prolific correspondent and diarist, whilst Harold’s own tiny pocket diary alone ran to approximately 40,000 words. Near the end of his life, Bob told me, “You can burn the lot for all I care. You decide when I’m gone....”
Walter J.R. Barber
Women on Farms
In 1990, a group of rural and farming women met in Warragul for what was to be the inaugural Women on Farms Gathering.
A group of local women had developed the idea while involved in a Women on Farms Skill Course. It was to prove inspirational, and the gatherings have been held annually ever since, throughout regional Victoria.
The Women on Farms Gathering provides a unique opportunity for women to network, increase their skills base in farming and business practices, share their stories and experience a wonderful sense of support, particularly crucial due to the shocking rural crises of the last decade. Importantly, the gatherings help promote and establish the notion of rural women as farmers, business women and community leaders.
The relationship between Museums Victoria and the Women on Farms Gathering is a model of museums working with living history.
Warrnambool Art Gallery
The Warrnambool Art Gallery collection includes 19th century European salon paintings, colonial Australian painting, contemporary Australian works (with a focus on printmaking), Melbourne modernist works from the 1930s to 1950s including avant-garde works by the Angry Penguins, as well as historical and contemporary local works about the region and its people.
Rippon Lea Estate
"Do you remember the garden in which you grew up, or the part the backyard played in your family life? Imagine if you had actually grown up in one of Australia's finest gardens.
Created in the English-landscape tradition which traces its roots back to Capability Brown and Humphry Repton, Rippon Lea is one of Australia's most important historic homes, exemplifying the lifestyle of wealthy families living in 19th and 20th century Australian cities. Although its architecture and that of its outbuildings is impressive, it is the mansion’s gardens, which are truly remarkable, both for their landscape qualities and because they have survived many threats and changes in the past 130 years.
Today, the amenities offered by a typical garden are still greatly valued: a safe place for children to play, somewhere to dry the washing, a plot for vegetables and a flower garden that adds colour and produces blooms for the home. Today as then, the scale differs but the experience of owning a garden - with its balance of utility and ornament - is essentially the same.
The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) now runs Rippon Lea as a museum, conserving the architecture and the landscape, and presenting the social history of the owners and their servants. Visitors to Rippon Lea enter a mansion preserved as the Jones family lived in it after their 1938 modernisation. In the pleasure garden the Sargood era is evoked by the staging of a range of performing arts events including opera, theatre, chamber music and outdoor activities."
The text above has been abstracted from an essay Solid Joys and Lasting Treasure: families and gardens written by Richard Heathcote for the publication The Australian Family: Images and Essays. The entire text of the essay is available as part of this story.
This story is part of The Australian Family project, which involved 20 Victorian museums and galleries. The full series of essays and images are available in The Australian Family: Images and Essays published by Scribe Publications, Melbourne 1998, edited by Anna Epstein. The book comprises specially commissioned and carefully researched essays with accompanying artworks and illustrations from each participating institution.
History Teachers Association of Victoria / Chinese Museum
When World War One was declared, Australia issued a call to arms.
The Chinese-Australian community rallied behind the war efforts. Over two hundred Australians of Chinese descent enlisted. One hundred and seven of these were from Victoria. Of those Chinese Australians who fought, forty-one died. No Chinese-Australian nurses who served in the War have been identified to date.
The story of the Chinese Anzacs is often overlooked in the greater narratives of World War One. Their experiences during and after the war were the subject of the 'Chinese Anzacs' exhibition on display at the Chinese Museum in 2014.
Lorraine Northey Connelly
Once a symbol of cultural survival, traditional crafts have in recent years become a means of reaffirming cultural identity.
In the hands of Waradgerie artist Lorraine Northey Connelly, this rich tradition undergoes further reinterpretation. She transforms woven string baskets and coolamons into contemporary colonial artefacts, using rustic materials, synthetic paint, ochre painted on sheets of corrugated iron, scrap metals and wire netting: expressive of a shared history and her own heritage of mixed cultures.
Over the past fourteen years Lorraine has been re-discovering her childhood environments, namely the mallee and riverine, acquiring a knowledge of local native and introduced plants and their cultural uses. Lorraine's personal interest in the protection of the environment and equality for all is represented in her art, through the use of recycled materials and symbols of reconciliation.
A Snappy, Collapsible Hat
On the outside it appears to be an ordinary top hat, but hidden on the inside is a technological innovation at least forty years in the making...
100 Years of Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station: icon, meeting place, central to millions of city commuters. The building itself was the result an architectural competition held in 1902, and Mary Lewis, librarian, introduces us to the original winning entry, held at State Library of Victoria.
Explore the changing, and unchanging, face of Melbourne's streetscape with images of Flinders St, from photographs of the late eighteenth century to the works of art that Melbourne's famous railway station has inspired.
In 2010, Flinders Street Station celebrated its 100th birthday.
When WW1 brought Australians face to face with mass death, a Red Cross Information Bureau and post-war graves workers laboured to help families grieve for the missing.
The unprecedented death toll of the First World War generated a burden of grief. Particularly disturbing was the vast number of dead who were “missing” - their bodies never found.
This film and series of photo essays explores two unsung humanitarian responses to the crisis of the missing of World War 1 – the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau and the post-war work of the Australian Graves Detachment and Graves Services. It tells of a remarkable group of men and women, ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, who laboured to provide comfort and connection to grieving families in distant Australia.
Young and Jackson Hotel
The Young and Jackson Hotel, built in the 1850s, is one of Australia's most well known hotels. It was built, as the Princes Bridge Hotel, on part of an allotment originally purchased by John Batman in 1837.
Young and Jackson were both born in Dublin, and "chummed together" to New Zealand chasing the Otago gold deposits in 1861. It is not known when they came to Victoria, but they purchased the lease on the Princes Bridge Hotel in 1875.
What House Is That?
More than just bricks and mortar, our homes are prisms, reflecting the society of the time they were built. Through them, we can understand the changing context of social, economic and architectural history, and the values and assumptions of the people who built and lived in them.
What house is that? is an exploration of the social and architectural history of Victoria’s housing styles. From our earliest Victorian cottages through to the light filled, open plan houses of the Modern era, we look at the houses Victorians call home.
The nine images and text give an overview of each of the main housing styles of Victoria’s history from the 1840s onwards. The 15 videos feature interviews with architects, historians and residents and explore the styles in more detail. This collection of images, text and videos comes from an interactive website created by Heritage Victoria.
Murray Darling Palimpsest #6
In 2006, Mildura Palimpsest became the Murray Darling Palimpsest, emphatically underscoring the identity of the region and its environmental interdependence.
The Murray Darling Palimpsest, staged in locations throughout the Murray Darling Basin, continues Palimpsest’s direct engagement with issues of environmental and social sustainability. With land and water use no longer in the background, Palimpsest is remarkable in its recognition that art affects attitudes, and reflects the engagement and connection many contemporary artists have to the environment; perhaps the most pressing issue we now face.
In 2006, Palimpsest brought together artists, scientists, environmentalists and other academics and commentators with the future of the Murray Darling Basin firmly in sight.
From Neighbours character, Charlene, to international pop sensation, Kylie Minogue’s costumes chart her rise, her style, and her creative energy.
The Kylie Costume Collection at the Arts Centre, Melbourne, shows the range and development of Kylie's persona through costume, and her collaborations with international and national designers.
As Kylie donates her costumes to the Arts Centre directly, curators are able to keep an extensive, chronological and very complete material record of Kylie's career, across her tours, album cover shoots, music videos, and red carpet and special events.
Captain Wilkinson's Swords
Several months ago we were contacted by Stacey Longstaff from Germany who wanted to donate his ancestor's sword to an appropriate museum in the Portland area.
We put Stacey in touch with the Glenelg Shire Cultural Collection team, who were excited to receive the offer of significant items to add to their collection. Glenelg Shire's Cultural Collection Officer Trevor Smith tells the story...
Amanda Ahmed and Mali Moir
An Eye for Eucalypts
In his hometown of Ararat, Stan Kelly (1911 – 2001) was known as an engine driver and as a talented painter of plants and flowers. A determined amateur, Stan painted at home on a small table and shared his talent by teaching botanical art in Ararat. Today, many Australians travelling overseas carry his artwork in their pocket.
Kelly is now recognised as one of Australia’s premier botanical illustrators, especially respected for his works on eucalypts. His first book, Australian Eucalypts in Colour, was published in 1949. His most celebrated work, Eucalypts Volumes I & II, was first published in 1969 and became a core reference for students of Australian botany.
Kelly received an Order of Australia Medal in 1980. In 2009, he was posthumously honoured when a selection of his botanical illustrations was adapted for the ‘N’ series Australian passport.
The Langi Morgala Museum in Ararat houses a permanent exhibit on Stan Kelly and his work, including a fine collection of his paintings.
A collection of over 500 of Kelly’s watercolour paintings is held by the National Herbarium of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
Jane Routley and Elizabeth Downes
Flinders Street Station
The current Flinders Street Station building has been part of the lives of Melbournians for over 100 years.
Inspired by the launch of the latest competition to put forward proposals for its restoration and reinvigoration, and to highlight some of the amazing Flinders Street-related material in Victoria's cultural collections, I will be celebrating the past, present and future of my favorite station.
Over the next few months, I will be recording impressions and stories found whilst exploring the station as it exists today, trawling the internet for related sounds and images (such as this timelapse) and featuring some of the wonderful images of the station that are held in Victoria's cultural collections. As a taster for my future posts, here's a selection of images that I've found.