186 matches for themes: 'creative life','a diverse state'Diverse state (186) Aboriginal culture (32) Built environment (45) Creative life (60) Family histories (8) Gold rush (11) Immigrants and emigrants (34) Kelly country (3) Land and ecology (32) Local stories (61) Service and sacrifice (17) Sporting life (8)
Walhalla: fires, floods and tons of gold
In a remote, steep, and heavily timbered valley in the Victorian Alps, in the summer of 1862-63, a small party of prospectors found encouraging signs of gold at the fork of a tributary of the Thomson River. It was December. By February of the next year an immense quartz reef had been discovered.
This reef – Cohen’s Reef - yielded over 50 tonnes of gold, making Walhalla one of Victoria’s richest and most vibrant towns, and home to thousands: with hotels, shops, breweries, churches, school, jail and its own newspaper. It also had its own photographic studio, headed by the Lee brothers.
Several albums still survive of Walhalla at its peak, providing a fascinating, evocative photographic record of a 19th century mining town; capturing a moment that was to be shortlived.
In 1910 the railway arrived, but too late: the gold was disappearing. The town emptied out and began its long sleep, until the 1980s when restorations began in earnest, and electricity finally arrived in 1998.
William Joseph Bessell (ex Councillor of the Shire of Walhalla) was presented this series of photos in 1909 on the eve of his departure from Walhalla.
“The social impact it has is huge, but the footy club survives," says Charlie Gillingham, mixed farmer from Murrabit.
In this story the community talks about drought: its social impact, resilience, changes to farming practises, changing weather patterns and water trading.
The median annual rainfall of the Wimmera and northern plains of Victoria is 420mm. But this median does not convey the deluges that sometimes double the figure, or the dry spells that can halve it. Like semi-arid places elsewhere, the climate cycle of this region is variable.
Aboriginal people have had thousands of years to adapt to the fluctuations, whilst recent settlers are still learning.
The introduction of the Land Act of 1869 accompanied by the high rainfall La Niña years of the early 1870s brought selectors to northern Victoria and the Wimmera. A series of dry years in the 1880s initiated storage and channel projects to assist them to stay.
Irrigation was introduced in 1886 to settle the northern plains and was expanded under closer settlement legislation. The drought years from 1895 to 1902 came to be known as the Federation Drought. Water supplies dried up completely in the El Niño years of 1914 and 1915 and people took the opportunity to picnic in the empty bed of the River Murray.
Drought hit again during World War Two, and then in the period 1965-8. The drought of 1982-3 was short but devastating. Our most recent drought, lasting more than a decade, broke late in 2010 with extensive flooding.
Policy responses have changed over the years and with the recent onset of human induced climate change, continual adaptation will be required.
In 2009, the History Council of Victoria captured resident’s experiences in the project titled Drought Stories: a spoken and visual history of the current drought in Victoria. There were two aims to the project: to create a historic record of the experience, and to strengthen community capacity in rural and regional areas through telling and listening to local stories.
Two types of collections were produced: Drought Stories Local Collections, held by historical societies, and the Drought Stories Central Archive, a selection of interviews held by the State Library of Victoria.
The History Council of Victoria believes that the project material provides a rich resource to assist researchers understand Australian society at a crucial and revealing stage of adjustment to the Australian environment.
Legislation and other land records are held at the Public Record Office Victoria.
Illuminated by Fire
These short films, created for the Illuminated By Fire project by Malcolm McKinnon, tell a range of stories about living in some of the most fire-prone places on the planet.
They reveal a wealth of knowledge, experience and imagination in our response to fire.
The Illuminated By Fire project is about the places we care about and the story and role of fire within those places.
Melbourne Trams: Step aboard!
'Introduction to Melbourne Trams: Step aboard!'
Written by Carla Pascoe, May 2012
Trams are what make Melbourne distinctive as a city. For interstate and overseas visitors, one of the experiences considered compulsory is to ride a tram. When Melbourne is presented to the rest of the world, the tram is often the icon used. The flying tram was one of the most unforgettable moments of the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. When Queen Elizabeth II visited Australia in 2011, she was trundled with regal dignity along St Kilda Road in her very own ‘royal tram’.
The history of trams is closely bound up with the history of this southerly metropolis. Melbourne’s tram system originated during the 1880s economic boom when the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company opened the first cable line. Cable tram routes soon criss-crossed much of the growing city and cable engine houses can still be seen in some inner suburbs, such as the grand building on the south-east corner of Gertrude and Nicholson streets, Fitzroy. Some older passengers like Daphne Rooms still remember riding cable cars.
In the late 19th century, cable and electric tram technologies were vying for supremacy. Australia’s first electric tram line opened in 1889, running through what was then farmland from Box Hill station to Doncaster. The only surviving clue that a tram line once traversed this eastern suburb is the eponymous Tram Road, which follows the former tram route in Doncaster.
Gradually, various local councils joined together to create municipal Tramways Trusts, constructing electric lines that extended the reach of the cable system. In 1920 the tram system came under centralised control when the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) consolidated the routes and began electrifying all cable lines.
Manpower shortages during World War II meant that Australian women stepped into many roles previously reserved for men. The tramways were no exception, with women being recruited as tram conductors for the first time. After the war, tram systems were slowly shut down in cities around both Australia and the world, as transport policies favoured the motor vehicle. But thanks to the stubborn resistance of MMTB Chairman, Sir Robert Risson, as well as the wide, flat streets that characterise the city’s geography, Melbourne retained its trams.
Melbourne’s tram industry has always possessed a unique workplace culture, characterised by fierce camaraderie and pride in the role of the ‘trammie’ (the nickname for a tram worker). Many Trammies, like Bruce MacKenzie, recall that they joined the tramways because a government job was seen as a job for life. But the reason they often remain for decades in the job is because of the strong bonds within the trammie ‘family’. This is partly due to the many social events and sporting clubs that have been attended by Trammies, as Bruce MacKenzie remembers. It is also because the demands of shift work bond people together, explains Roberto D’Andrea.
The tram industry once employed mainly working-class, Anglo-Australian men. After World War II, many returned servicemen joined the ranks, bringing a military-style discipline with them. With waves of post-war migration the industry became more ethnically diverse, as Lou Di Gregorio recalls. Initially receiving Italian and Greek workers from the 1950s and 1960s, from the 1970s the tramways welcomed an even broader range of Trammies, from Vietnamese, South American, Turkish and other backgrounds.
Trammies perform a wide range of tasks critical to keeping the system running, including driving, track maintenance, tram maintenance, time tabling, customer service and more. But just as designs of ‘rolling stock’ have changed - from the beloved veteran W class trams to the modern trams with their low floors, climate control and greater capacity - so too have the jobs of Trammies changed over time. Bruce MacKenzie remembers joining the Preston Workshops in the 1950s when all of Melbourne’s fleet was constructed by hand in this giant tram factory. Roberto D’Andrea fondly recalls the way that flamboyant conductors of the 1980s and 1990s would perform to a tram-load of passengers and get them talking together. As a passenger, Daphne Rooms remembers gratefully the helping role that the connies would play by offering a steadying arm or a piece of travel advice.
Trams have moved Melburnians around their metropolis for decades. As Daphne maintains, ‘If you can’t get there by tram, it’s not worth going’. Everyone has memories of their experiences travelling on trams: some funny, some heart-warming and some frustrating. Tram driver, Lenny Bates, tells the poignant story of the blind boy who would sometimes board his tram on Collins Street and unhesitatingly call out the names of the streets they passed. As the films in this collection demonstrate, every passenger has their routes that they customarily ride and these routes take on a personal meaning to their regulars. You could say that every tram line has its own distinct personality. Whilst the way the tram system is run inevitably changes across time, one thing has been constant: trams have always played a central role in the theatre of everyday life in Melbourne.
John Teasdale – Chronicle of a Country Life
These little films from Victoria's Western Plains are about the actual and the everyday.
They have no hint of sensationalism in them. They are plain and utterly honest. They tell us about tractors and farming machinery. About fire and flood and snow. We glimpse Anzac Day and are touched by the irony of people remembering in a time and place few people remember or think about today. But there is no sentimentality in these films either. They are just plain good. - Martin Flanagan.
John Teasdale (1936 – 2004) was a farmer at Rupanyup in the Victorian Wimmera. He was also a keen and highly accomplished cinematographer, filming consistently for over 50 years to create a long-term record of working life on a family farm and of community life in a particular part of rural Victoria.
When television arrived in Australia in 1956, John successfully applied to the ABC to become a 'stringer' cameraman, shooting regional footage that was frequently included in state-wide news broadcasts and in segments produced particularly for regional viewers. John continued in this role for thirty years, until changing technology eventually made the role of 'regional stringers' obsolete.
The Teasdale film collection constitutes a nationally significant record of working and community life in a small Australian dry-land farming community, reflecting enormous changes in farming practices as well as transformations in the character and scale of community life in and around Rupanyup. At a time when many dry-land farming communities are actively reinventing themselves as their underlying social and economic structures change dramatically, John Teasdale’s films provide a critical point of reference and affirmation.
Artist and filmmaker Malcolm McKinnon, with the support of John Teasdale’s family, is undertaking ongoing work to interpret and celebrate this rich and resonant archive.
Portable Justice: The old Bacchus Marsh police lock-up
Scratched into the timber wall of the old Bacchus Marsh police lock–up, these crudely formed words might be a prisoner’s repentance before finally going straight. Or perhaps their regret was short-lived, soon returning to a life of crime.
We will never know if they remained faithful to their promise, but the pledge gives life to the bitter solitude of this place, and others like it.
Prior to the widespread construction of police lock-ups, suspected criminals were subject to primitive forms of detention. In some towns, alleged culprits were tied to trees while awaiting trial, and were often subject to threats of lynching.
The Australian Government’s policy of mandatory detention of unauthorised arrivals by boat has been the subject of intense political and national debate in recent years around the ethics of detaining people who in many cases have fled their homeland to escape conflict or oppression.
These stories produced as part of the ACMI Digital Storytelling program document the experiences of people who have recently arrived in Australia.
In the Face of Uncertainty
Some of the material in this story contains themes and graphic imagery that is quite confronting and may disturb or offend some viewers.
The industrial nature of warfare during the First World War led to horrific injuries.
These injuries were of an unprecedented scale that medical science had never before experienced. Men suffered excruciating and deforming facial injuries. propelling medical science into a period of rapid innovation and development.
This pioneering facial reconstructive surgery was undertaken during and in the aftermath of the First World War and it offers a real insight into how surgeons began to understand modern plastic surgery and facial reconstruction.
This story is told through the Sidcup Collection, held by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
The Sidcup Collection is named after the Queen Mary’s Hospital Sidcup near Kent, England. It is where this pioneering surgery took place, and the collection comprises medical records, patient files, illustrations, photographs, sketches, x-rays and plaster casts. The collection highlights the significant contribution Australian surgeon Henry Simpson Newland and his staff made to modern facial surgery.
Diagnostic tools and techniques used by the surgeons were particularly innovative. Artist Daryl Lindsay worked for some time at the hospital, providing colour illustrations of the injuries which served to capture the patients’ whole being. In a time before 3D imaging, plaster casts of the mens' faces were taken to provide surgeons with a comprehensive understanding of the injuries.
The Sidcup Collection provides a window into how medical science and innovation responded to war as well as an insight into the surgeons, the patients and the ideas that make up this extraordinary story.
Making Sense: Art and Mental Health
The Cunningham Dax Collection was established in 1987 with a series of works in the possession of psychiatrist Dr Eric Cunningham Dax.
Produced by patients of Victorian mental institutions between the 1950s and 1980s, these works assisted psychiatrists and medical teams with diagnosis.
Today, the Dax Collection also encompasses the work of many contemporary artists with an experience of mental illness and psychological trauma, and advocates the potential of arts practices in the management of mental health and wellbeing.
Many individuals now practice informal and formal forms of art therapy. Whilst some produce works in settings with a practicing art therapist, for others, creative art practices have become a form of self-expression, empowerment or reflection of one’s internal world.
As the union of art and therapy continues to evolve, it is clear that art making and these creative processes have the potential to enhance our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, to connect with a deeper part of ourselves and to integrate the human experience.
John Harry Grainger
Architect and Civil Engineer
John Harry Grainger was a creative figure, largely overlooked by history. He receives a brief mention in the much-examined life story of his famous son, the composer and pianist Percy Grainger, where he is depicted as a proud but ineffectual father.
Grainger's prolific output as an architect and his extraordinary talents for bridge building have not yet received due recognition.
The material presented here is sourced from the Grainger Museum Collection at the University of Melbourne. Additional material is held in the Public Record Office of Victoria and in the State Library of Victoria collections.
Making Do on ‘the Susso’: The material culture of the Great Depression
There are currently 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans. The demands on renewable sources like timber, clean water and soil are so great they are now being used at almost twice the rate that the earth can replenish them. Finite resources like fossil fuel are consumed at an alarming rate, changing the earth’s climate and pushing animal species to the brink of extinction. Current patterns of consumption are exceeding the capacity of the earth’s ability to provide into the future.
All over the world, environmental movements concerned with sustainability have sprung up in response. Conscious consumers are advocating for their right to repair their own electronic devices, fighting a culture of planned obsolesce and disposability. Others are championing the repair, reuse and recycling of clothing and household goods to extend their lives. Reducing waste in the kitchen and promoting food options with lower environmental impact has become increasingly popular.
Climate change may be a uniquely twenty-first century challenge, but sustainability has a history. In 2021 many people are making a conscious choice to embrace anti-consumerism, but during the Great Depression of the 1930s it was necessity that drove a philosophy of mend and make do.
In 1929 stock markets crashed and sent economies around the western world into free fall, triggering the Great Depression. Australia’s economic dependence on wool and wheat exports meant that it was one of the worst affected countries in the world. The impact of the Depression on the everyday lives of Australians was immense. Not everyone was effected with the same severity, but few escaped the poverty and austerity of the years 1929-1933 unscathed.
At the height of the Depression in 1932 Australia had an unemployment rate of 29%, and thousands of desperate people around the country queued for the dole. Aboriginal Australians were not eligible for the dole, and had to rely solely on government issued rations.
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.
Early Photographs - Gold
These images are part of the first photographic series of Australian scenes presented for sale to the public. Produced by the studio of Antoine Fauchery and Richard Daintree in 1858, these photograph are from a series of 53 collectively known as the Fauchery-Daintree Album.
Using the latest collodion wet-plate process, Fauchery and Daintree produced their collection of albumen silver prints at a time when the sales of photographs were flourishing.
Antoine Fauchery and Richard Daintree produced iconic images of both early gold diggers and the landscapes scarred by the exploding search for gold, which attracted miners from all over the world and created the boom that made Melbourne the fastest growing metropolis of the time.
Antoine Fauchery and Richard Daintree were both migrants who tried their luck on the goldfields – Daintree coming out from England in 1853, Fauchery from France in 1852.
Unsuccessful on the goldfields, in 1857 they combined forces to produce a series of photographs titled Sun Pictures of Victoria, capturing important early images of the goldfields, Melbourne Streets, landscapes and portraits of Indigenous Victorians. Using the new collodion wet-plate process, they created albumen silver prints of a rare quality for the time.
Further information on Antoine Fauchery's time in Melbourne can be found at the State Library of Victoria's Ergo site.
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).
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.
Digital Stories of Immigration
Migration is a strong theme of exploration for many who take part in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Digital Storytelling workshops.
These stories recount extraordinary journeys of courage for many have had to flee their homeland to start a new life in Australia enduring sinking boats, pirates and transit camps.
New language, new culture, new landscapes and new climates are all part of the challenges of resettlement.
Produced as part of the ACMI digital storytelling program these stories explore the waves of migration from Post war to stories from emerging communities and new arrivals. Immigration has been significant in identifying Australia’s history and culture and the ACMI stories of migration celebrate the multitude of diverse communities in Victoria.