Cape, evening, women's, short, pink velvet, hand painted with geranium design in red and black, Lucy Dalgarno, Australia, 1930 (OF).
Lucy Gerturde Dalgarno (1874-1945) was a prolific artist and designer. Often known as Gertie, she had a passion for brilliant colour and created many new techniques in her work that reflected the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century. When her husband, Charles Robert Dalgarno died in 1912 she had four young children to support. She went to work at Ward's in York Street, Sydney, embroidering her designs onto garments. In 1916 she joined the Society of Arts and Crafts of NSW and exhibited her work in their gallery in Rowe Street. In the early 1920's she painted batik designs on clothing for David Jones and employed up to four girls to carry out the repeat work.
Dalgarno opened a studio shop in Victoria Arcade near Rowe Street in Sydney where she designed bridge capes like this one and made kid leather native flowers spray brooches and handbags for customers. Wool and kid gum blossoms were a particular favourite and she made many thousands of them, though few survive. Her daughter, Jan, remembers Lucy painting kid leather flowers with Kodak tinting inks and how everyone sent her their used kid gloves to recycle into this inventive jewellery. All her work involved painting either on silk, velvet or kid leather. Some floral sprays made use of painted fish scales. Japanese influences are evident in the fabric and cut of her garments and the concept of the garments being 'canvases' for her painting.
Dalgarno was an adventurous woman and raised considerable funds for the war effort through her painting and clothing designs. Her car trip across the United States in 1939 gave her an opportunity to raise money through lectures about her experiences in a world that would never be quite the same again.
Lindie Ward 14/1/09
ref: L.G.Dalgarno 'With Sketchbook in Hand; Letters from the USA, 1939' pub. Seaview Press, 2008