Threads: Quilts & waggas
Quilting is often thought of as a pastime more than an art form.
A domestic craft practiced mainly by women, we think of quilt-makers working individually or in intimate circles, sharing stitches and scraps of fabric along with gossip and hushed conversation. In truth, quilts are complex objects.
Both utilitarian and artistic, quilts not only testify to the industriousness and ambition of their makers, but they also enclose generations of economic, cultural and social change.
Quilts tell stories and are objects of inference, through which multiple histories can be glimpsed, imagined, covered over: threads gathered and dropped. Few objects are as riven with the small and large shocks, fears, desires and dreams of everyday life.
Jane Routley and Elizabeth Downes
Degraves Street Subway & Campbell Arcade: The underground artspace
When you first come down the stairs, the Degraves Street Subway seems a bit daunting.
The long, pale pink tiled corridor with its blocked-off doorways and blotched asphalt, seems the perfect place for a mugging. A mysterious blind alley, which used to be an opening into the Mutual Store (and the earliest bowling alley in the CBD), leads off to your right. But stick with this corridor. It’s safe and is actually the route into the Campbell Arcade - a little slice of indie fringe artist-land which I think is a fine place to be.
From the nuclear to the extended family, from groups of close friends, communities and neighbourhoods, to one on one relationships: family means many different things to different people.
Family describes our most cherished, and sometimes most difficult, relationships. In this collection of digital stories and videos, Victorians share their family stories.
Family stories include stories of immigration; disadvantage and survival, indigenous life, stories of sickness and health; life and death; childhood and old age.
CULTURAL WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users are warned that some of the videos in this story may contain images of deceased persons and images of places that could cause sorrow.
The Main Line Starter Clock: Keeper of public time
An authoritative presence on Platform One at Spencer Street Station for almost one hundred years, the Main Line Starter Clock stood over the people of Victoria from its installation in 1871 until 1960, when the station was re-developed and the clock was gifted by Victorian Railways to the Melbourne Museum.
This majestic artifact is now cleverly housed in a model ‘Museum Station’ in the new Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery.
Built by watchmaker Thomas Gaunt at his premises in Bourke Street’s Royal Arcade in consultation with Government Astronomer Robert Ellery, the clock weighs some 150kg and stands – as you can gauge from this image of Conservator Sarah Babister as she repaired paint loss and removed decades of accumulated grime from the face – an imposing 1820mm high by 1190mm wide.
The Dolls of Victoria: An unveiled toy story
Our attachment to dolls – beyond them being simply an idealised smaller version of a human figure – reflects many aspects of human behaviour and cultural practices.
Dolls have long been attributed with magic powers, associated with religious beliefs, and connected to family rituals and traditions. Whether used as common toys, instruments of storytelling, educational tools, or to provide comfort and support to people during times of distress – dolls have maintained a significant place in many cultures.
Examining their function and use across place and time can reflect major global developments, social changes and the impact of major historical events such as immigration and war. This story looks at the manufacture, use and enjoyment of dolls held in cultural collections throughout the state that have been catalogued here on Victorian Collections.
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.
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.
Digital Stories of Young Adults
Being a teenage mother, expressing the power of music and defining identity and sexuality are just some of the stories shared by the young people who have taken part in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) Digital Storytelling program.
Inside each story is a profusion of ideas and emotions that are edited together as an illuminating way for the young storytellers to evoke memories, places and events that inspire them. Digital Storytelling provides a powerful multimodal learning tool that allows young people to tap into their creativity and critical awareness while allowing for a fluid manipulation and construction of technical and storytelling knowledge.
For more information visit the Australian Centre for the Moving Image website
The Australian Environment
The landscape and environment of South Eastern Australia vary dramatically from season to season. The beauty and power of these changes, both physically and psychologically, have been depicted by a range of Australian artists featured in the Gippsland Art Gallery’s permanent collection.
The collection takes us on a journey through the landscape and, importantly, serves as a destination for current and future generations to experience the ways artists interpret the landscape and environment of South Eastern Australia.
Horizon by Andrew Browne is comprised of four panels which span eleven and a half metres. This significant work takes the audience on a journey from the natural world, through the man-made world and onto another, distant destination.
Tony Lloyd’s painting Tomorrow Follows Yesterday takes us on another type of journey. His landscape featuring snow-capped mountains immerses us in the artistic tradition of Romanticism while a jet-trail in the sky brings us rushing into the twenty-first century.
While world renowned local artist Annemieke Mein has created textile landscapes dotted with dragonflies and other creatures from the natural world. These large textile landscapes are based on her field studies in and around Gippsland.
Here you can view a selection of works from Gippsland Art Gallery’s significant collection that depict and interpret different states of the Australian environment. The video, featuring the gallery’s Director and Curator, provides further background and close ups of these striking works by Peter Booth, Mike Brown, Andrew Browne, Victor Majzner, Annemieke Mein and Tony Lloyd.
Eugene von Guérard
Eugene von Guérard was born in Vienna in 1811. He was the son of the court painter to Emperor Franz Joseph 1 of Austria, Bernard von Guérard, and became a painter himself, studying under Johann Schirmer at the Academy in Düsseldorf.
He came to Australia to try his luck on the goldfields. Unsuccessful, he resumed his painting career in Melbourne in 1854, and by 1870 was appointed First Master of Painting at the National Gallery School, Melbourne and Curator of the National Gallery of Victoria. He returned to Europe in 1882.
His landscapes, remarkable for their detail, are much valued for the depiction of Australian and particularly, Victorian, landscapes of the mid-1800s.
In the Spirit of George Rose
Australian photographer William Yang and South Korean photographer Koo Bohnchang have created new images inspired by the Clunes-born photographer George Rose.
George Rose used a stereograph camera. This creates two images that are nearly the same. When you view them through the eyepiece, they become a 3D image.
George Rose went to Korea in 1904. His images of the streets of Seoul, and surrounding villages, are highly valued. They are almost the only images of street life in Seoul from the turn of the 20th century.
They capture a time when the Japanese were colonising Korea. The Japanese wear darker clothes in the images, the Koreans are in white. Notice how, in one of the images, a Korean climbs the city wall to gain access without going through the guarded gates. Some of the other images show the Japanese quarter, with their different style of housing and shops. Many of the images show the new electrical and telegraph wires, which had been installed by the Japanese.
George Rose’s guide was Japanese, and that influence can be seen in the way he describes the Koreans. Japanese people, at that time, considered Koreans to be a lesser culture than their own.
George Rose’s guide can be seen in one of the photos, dressed in western clothes, with a child, standing in front of a village.
In the exhibition, Koo Bohnchang used images he took in Clunes, and William Yang used images he took in Korea. Both artists reveal the gaze of the foreigner, they show what someone from outside the culture sees. This is similar to when Australian George Rose visited Korea in 1904, he too was an outsider, looking at another culture.
The curator Catherine Croll, worked closely with the photographers, travelling with them to Victoria and Korea. Below, you can see some of the images she took of the photographers at work. She was the modern-day equivalent of the ‘guide’.
Clunes has a strong relationship to Paju Book City near Seoul, they are both international Booktowns. This exhibition grew out of that relationship.
Their exhibition launched at Clunes Booktown on May 2, 2015, before it travelled around the world.
To learn more about Clunes booktown, visit www.clunesbooktown.com.au
Melbourne is an expanding city, with a growing population and sprawling urban development. It is predicted that by 2056 an additional 4 million people will settle in Greater Melbourne, increasing the population from 5 million to 9 million people over the next 30 years (1). While some expansion is vertical, in the form of high-rise developments, much of this growth is across the peri-urban fringe, described simply as ‘areas on the urban periphery into which cities expand’ (2) or ‘which cities influence’ (3).
In Melbourne, these peri-urban areas of most rapid growth are currently the local government areas of Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Whittlesea and Wyndham. With population growth comes the inevitable expansion of infrastructure, services and transportation. As the fringes of the city continue to sprawl, what was once the urban fringe and green edge of the city has to be negotiated, as it is increasingly encroached upon.
The artists and photographers in Urban Fringe examine these spaces on the fringe of the expanding city of Melbourne, where urban and natural environments meet, clash and coexist. Beginning with white colonisation and the myth of ‘terra nullius’, these artists discuss the treatment of the Greater Melbourne environment over time, consider the cost of progress, and explore protest and the reclamation of space.
Hamilton Gallery / Public Galleries Association of Victoria
From Watercolours to Decorative Arts
Bequests have been critical to Victoria’s regional galleries, with the wealth generated from farming and the discovery of gold in leading to the establishment and the continuous expansion from colonial times through to today.
Hamilton Art Gallery was established through a bequest from a local grazier, Herbert Buchanan Shaw. The Shaw Bequest consisted of paintings and prints, European silver and glass as well as English, Chinese and Japanese ceramics dating from the 18th century.
Ten years after it was established, Hamilton Art Gallery acquired a group of watercolours by 18th century painter Paul Sandby through a grant from the state government. An upper floor was added to the gallery to accommodate these works.
The collection has continued to grow through gifts, grants and bequests. The original bequest of 870 items has expanded to 8,500 items, making Hamilton Art Gallery one of the largest and most diverse regional gallery collections in Australia, spanning watercolours to decorative arts.
Today, the gallery is divided into six spaces – upstairs you will find the Sandby collection, Asian art, the Print room and Australian art, while on the ground floor you will discover the Shaw Gallery of decorative arts and the Ashworth Gallery for travelling exhibitions.
Featured here is a selection of works from the gallery’s collection – from watercolours by Paul Sandy to world class examples of decorative arts together with work by Australian artists dating from the 19th century to contemporary times. Watch a video to learn about the initial Shaw Bequest and experience the richness and diversity of Hamilton Art Gallery’s collection acquired through the generosity of benefactors and governments over the past fifty years.
Born in a Trunk and Living in a Suitcase
Whether bonded by blood or shared experience, family strongly underpins the foundations of the performing arts industry. "I was born in a trunk" is a familiar introductory phrase used by those born of theatrical parents.
This story tells of the great Australian theatrical managements of J.C. Williamson Ltd (The Firm), and the Tivoli Circuit.
It also provides insights into Australian theatrical families such as: Tony Sheldon, his mother Toni Lamond, father Frank Sheldon, grandparents Max Reddy and Stella Lamond, and aunt Helen Reddy; and Val Jellay and her husband Maurie Fields, who met and married while touring together in the travelling company Sorlie's.
In the theatrical industry people like Irene Mitchell, artistic director of the Little Theatre which became St Martin's Youth Arts Centre, Gertrude Johnson, artistic director of the National Theatre, and Betty Pounder, choreographer and casting agent for J.C. Williamson, provided role models and mentoring for a generation of Melbourne actors and performers.
The text above has been abstracted from an essay Born in a trunk and living out of a suitcase written by Carolyn Laffan for the publication The Australian Family: Images and Essays. The full text of the essay is available as part of this story.
The Performing Arts Museum (now known as The Arts Centre, Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection) produced the exhibition Kindred Spirits - The Performing Arts Family as part of The Australian Familyproject, 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.
Textiles and Fibre Art
Established in 1968, Ararat Regional Art Gallery has a unique collection of textiles and fibre art dating from the 1970s, '80s and '90s through to now.
The gallery started collecting work in the 70’s arising from Australia’s growing craft movement – including glass and ceramics. A decision was later made to focus the collection on textiles to reflect the region’s historical association with fine merino wool production. The gallery now has over 1,200 items in its collection, with pivotal works by leading Australian and international artists working in fibre and textiles.
Textiles have been woven from fibre to create clothing and other items since prehistoric times. The 1960’s were a time of great change, with feminism entering the general lexicon and encouraging a questioning of the status quo. Initially aligned with 'women’s work', textiles have become a rich field for both male and female artists to examine gendered roles and social mores, as well as the boundaries of artistic practice.
Ararat Regional Art Gallery’s collection provides an invaluable history of textiles and fibre arts, and in doing so, it maps the influential role fibre and textiles have played in extending the boundaries both of visual art and social parameters.
Contemporary works featured in the gallery’s collection continue this tradition, with Lucas Grogan’s hand embroidered quilt offering a critique of contemporary culture.
Featured here are twenty representative works from the gallery’s textile and fibre art collection. Watch a video to learn about the history of Ararat Regional Art Gallery’s collection and see works by artists John Corbett (Australia), Olga de Amaral (Columbia), Tony Dyer (Australia), Kate Just (USA/Australia), Sebastian Di Mauro (Australia) and Yvonne Koolmatrie (Australia/Ngarrandjeri).
Set and costume design
By exploring aspects of the J. C. Williamson Archive at the Arts Centre, and interviewing scenic artist Paul Kathner, we get a sense of the behind the scenes work involved in creating the visual effect of theatre.
Curator Margaret Marshall introduces us to a Williamson scenebook from the 1920s, and to costume designs from the late 19th and early 20th century, and Paul invites us to explore his craft and his career with major theatre companies for the past 50 years.