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.
The Leviny Sisters
Buda historic house and garden in Castlemaine is a remarkable archive of a family, occupied by two generations of the Leviny family over 118 years.
Ernest, who bought the house in 1863, and Bertha Leviny had 10 children, all of whom enjoyed a happy and privileged home life and received a well-rounded education, particularly in the arts. Five of the six Leviny daughters spent most of their lives at Buda, and the house and garden contains a rich legacy of their creative spirit.
Mary Florence, Beatrice Kate, Gertrude Olga Louise, Bertha Dorothy and Hilda Geraldine grew up at a time when women were being given opportunities for a higher education, and the Leviny girls were encouraged to do this. Their father’s wealth, resulting from his success in business on the Castlemaine goldfields, gave them choices in life, and they were under no particular pressure to marry or earn a living.
These five Leviny daughters remained single, giving them the freedom to pursue their creative interests in such things as painting, woodcarving, metalwork, needlework and photography. Some of their art and craft works were included in exhibitions, but it was mostly created for pleasure: to decorate and use in their home.
After Ernest’s death in 1905 the daughters commenced a redecoration of Buda in the Arts and Craft style. Victorian furnishings and fittings were replaced by simpler Federation-style details. Hand-painted friezes, decorative and useful items, soft furnishings, metalwork, embroideries, and beautifully carved furniture made by the sisters are still to be seen in and around the house at Buda.
It may have been considered an unusual lifestyle choice for young women in the late 1800s, but the Leviny sisters were part of a wave of change, resulting from early women’s rights activities at that time, which presented them with opportunities and choices. Their motivation, coupled with their financial independence, allowed them to pursue self-determined lifestyles. They continued to create works of art and craft well into the twentieth century with Dorothy, the most prolific artist of the sisters, still creating work in metals when she was in her seventies.
It was largely due to the foresight of last surviving sister, Hilda, that Buda was preserved as a house and garden museum when she sold the property to the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1970. Her sisters, Mary and Kate, left a broader civic legacy through their involvement in establishing the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1913, and assisting with the development of the gallery’s fine collection of prints in the late 1920s.
Text adapted from the booklet Buda and the Leviny Family, Lauretta Zilles (2011).
Athol Shmith's career as a portrait, fashion and advertising photographer, spanning over 60 years, made him both a documenter and shaper of Melbourne style.
When Athol Shmith moved to a studio in Collins Street's 'Paris End' in 1939 to begin his career in fashion photography, his main problem was the lack of professional models.
Very few models existed in 1930s Melbourne due to the connotations associated with the profession. In order to make his mark, Shmith became inventive, recruiting suitable young women from Melbourne's most prominent families. By drawing on high society, he gave fashion photography an air of respectability, and by the 1940s, the model and photographer professions were firmly established.
As Melbourne's leading fashion photographer, Shmith spearheaded the introduction of the 'modern look' to local fashion, using clean and bold lines and arrangements combined with Hollywood Glamour.
Collingwood Technical School
For over 140 years, the site of the former Collingwood Technical School on Johnston Street, Melbourne, has played an integral role in the well being of the local community.
It has been a civic hub, including courthouse (1853), Council Chambers (1860) and the Collingwood Artisans’ School of Design (1871). The school opened in 1912 when its first principal, Matthew Richmond, rang a bell on the street to attract new students. Collingwood was a poor and industrial suburb, and as a trade school, young boys were offered the opportunity to gain industrial employment skills.
Throughout the twentieth century, Collingwood Technical School supported the local and broader community. From training schemes for ex-servicemen who were suffering from post traumatic stress following World War I (1914-1918), to extra classes during the Great Depression, and the development of chrome and electroplating for machine parts for the Australian Army and Air Force during World War II (1939-1945).
The precinct between Johnston, Perry and Wellington Streets has transformed over time, including expansion with new buildings and school departments, and the change in the demographic of students as Collingwood evolved from an industrial centre to eventual gentrification. And in 1984, New York street artist, Keith Haring (1958-1990), painted a large mural onsite.
Collingwood Technical College closed in 1987 when it amalgamated with the Preston TAFE (Technical and Further Education) campus. Education classes continued until 2005 and the site sat empty for more than a decade, before a section was redeveloped for Circus Oz in 2013.
The former school now has a new identity as Collingwood Arts Precinct, and is being developed into an independent space for small and medium creative organisations. The heritage buildings will house the next generation of thinkers and makers, and will become a permanent home to the arts in Collingwood.
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.
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.
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...
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.
Marianne Gibson's Crazy Patchwork Quilt
In 1876, the Japanese Pavilion at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition caused quite a stir. It featured ceramics and other art objects that were asymmetrical, or “crazed”. Whilst the interest created in America was telling of the whole mood of modernism (which questioned and reformed traditional aesthetic ideas), its effect on the everyday lives of women was seen in the groundswell of support for crazy patchworking (also known as crazy quilting).
Crazy patchwork became a hugely popular ‘craze’ that lasted until the 1920s, with women’s publications full of the opinions of both followers and protestors. Crazy patchwork is differs considerably from traditional patchwork quilting: where traditional patchwork is batted, or filled, and composed of precise patches arranged into neat and sometimes complex geometric patterns, crazy patchwork consists of uneven patches that are composed of any variety of fabrics (especially exotic fabrics at the start of the craze) and are embellished with all sorts of trimmings: lace, embroidery, buttons, ribbons. In addition to this crazy patchwork quilts are very personalised.
Crazy quilts broke all the rules of traditional quilts and were highly experimental and creative: makers were not afraid to use clashing colours or to cover every surface with designs. Cushions and pillows were also made to the style. It was through this craze and Victorian women’s domestic creative work that modernism was ushered into the home.
Marianne Gibson was born in Armagh, Ireland in 1837. As a young woman she and her sister accompanied their uncle to Australia and settled in Wangaratta. In 1864 Marianne married Alexander McCullen Gibson, who operated a successful general store.
Marianne’s skill with needlepoint, her access to fine fabrics of the day, including silks and European lace, and her creative instinct can all be seen in the remarkable Crazy Patchwork Quilt known as the Marianne Gibson Quilt. Replete with Australian motifs, including flora and birdlife, and personal symbols, such as tributes to a child she lost, the quilt is dated and signed by Marianne, indicating both her creative ownership and her intention for the quilt to be kept as an heirloom.
It is precisely because it was honoured as an heirloom that it survives in such condition to this day. Donated to the collection of the Wangaratta Historical Society by Alma Gard, it is one the finest and best-preserved crazy patchwork quilts from the Victorian era in the world.
ManStyle: Men + Fashion
Charting a course between absolute restraint and ostentatious display ManStyle explores the extremes of masculine style and some of the most influential ideas that have pervaded menswear over the past three centuries.
ManStyle presents a broad survey of menswear from around 1740 to the present using examples from the NGV collection. Beginning in the eighteenth century with exquisite brocade and embroidered silk coats, the exhibition explores the evolution of the modern suit via the elegantly honed lines of the nineteenth century dandy, examining the rise of tailoring with its focus on perfect cut and fit.
In contemporary menswear design, new and traditional modes of dressing are continually merging to create new definitions of masculinity. From tradition to transformation: changes in proportion, shape and detail as well as material, colour and pattern, including the more radical influence of sportswear, sub-cultural attire and street wear; all have affected men’s fashion.
A range of men discuss their own personal fashion and style. Their responses were often frank, considered, funny or surprising, as each reflected on what they wear and the influences, experiences and observations that have shaped their clothing choices.
Images of Melbourne
Explore Melbourne through selected works from the National Gallery of Victoria.
These artworks capture phases of the city's development, and offer a portrait of the people, places and streetscapes that define it.
Badger Bates (William Brian Bates) was raised by his extended family and his grandmother Granny Moysey, with whom he travelled the country, learning about the language, history and culture of the Paakantji people of the Darling River, or Paaka.
When he was about 8 years old Granny Moysey started to teach him to carve emu eggs and make wooden artefacts in the traditional style, carving by ‘feeling through his fingers.’
Badger works in linoprint, wood, emu egg and stone carving, and metalwork, reflecting the motifs, landforms, animals, plants and stories of Paakantji land. His art is an extension of a living oral tradition, and in his work we find the wavy and geometric lines from the region’s wooden artefacts; places of ceremonial and mythological importance; depictions of traditional life such as hunting and gathering bush tucker; and stories about the ancestral spirits; as well as contemporary issues such as the degradation of his beloved Darling River.
Mark S. Holsworth
Art at Flinders Street Station
The average commuter passing through Flinders Street Station could remain blissfully unaware for their entire lives of anything more artistic in the station than the endless advertising images.
However, as befitting any major public building, there is some commissioned art at Flinders Street Station.
The three-dimensional aspect requires a different approach that encompasses numerous angles and mannequin positions as well as complex lighting techniques.
The photographic treatment is informed by the garment’s condition, history, fabric and construction techniques. As such, this kind of photography is a team effort between myself, the textiles conservator and the curator.
I dreamt about weaving a net. So I did just that. I wove a net! When I started weaving my net my mind wandered back in time and I thought about how it must have been for my ancestors who lived along the mighty Murray River.
GLENDA NICHOLLS Waddi Waddi/Yorta Yorta/Ngarrinjeri
Glenda Nicholls entered her Ochre Net into the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards in 2012 and was the winner of the Koorie Heritage Trust Acquisition Award.
When Glenda’s Ochre Net came into the Trust’s care, it inspired this exhibition of artworks and stories relating to waterways and their significance to Koorie people. Powerful spiritual connections to waterways, lakes and the sea are central to Koorie life and culture.
The works shown in Ganagan Deep Water come from the Trust’s collections and represent many Koorie cultural groups from south-eastern Australia.
The Ganagan Deep Water exhibition at the Koorie Heritage Trust was sponsored by Melbourne Water.
This online component of the Ganagan exhibition is sponsored by the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme, supported by the Australian Government through the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Ganagan means ‘deep water’ in the Taungurung language.
CULTURAL WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users of this website are warned that this story contains images of deceased persons and places that could cause sorrow.
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