Sticker sheet, 'Bring Back Utzon', paper / ink, designed and made by John Kinstler and Karen Herrle, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1967
This sheet of stickers is part of a rare collection documenting an important and highly controversial event in the dramatic story of the construction of the Sydney Opera House. Jorn Utzon won the competition to design the Opera House on 29 January 1957. Construction commenced in 1959 but was beset by problems relating to its complex, pioneering engineering and to its ever-escalating cost. The defeat of the New South Wales State Labor Party in May 1965 saw Norman Ryan, an Utzon supporter, supplanted by Davis Hughes as Minister for Public Works. Hughes was intent on containing the Opera House costs and exercising more control over Utzon and his team. In an effort to do this Hughes withheld Utzon's fees and refused to approve funding to enable plywood mock-ups of the auditoria interiors to proceed. He also played architect against engineer in an attempt to discredit Utzon. Finally, exasperated, Utzon resigned from the Sydney Opera House project on 28 February 1966 and returned to Denmark. He was never to return to Sydney and thus has never seen his completed building.
Following Utzon's resignation a sustained campaign, led by Sydney architects and concerned members of the public, was pursued to persuade the state government and the public to have Utzon reinstated as architect on the project. Despite Utzon's stated willingness to return to the Opera House in 1967-68 and work in collaboration with Peter Hall, the architect appointed to take over from him, he was not reinstated. The protest campaign, waged over two years, lost its momentum in 1968 when it became evident that the government was determined to keep Utzon out of the project.
These 'Bring Utzon Back' stickers were based on a poster designed and printed by a group of young architects then employed by the Public Works Department in the Government Architect's Office. The collection, kept by architects May Watson and Bill Turner since the late 1960s, includes the printing blocks and silk screens used to print the posters.
The sticker designs are based on larger-format posters which were printed from [silk screens] designed and made by John Kinstler, an architect in the Government Architect's office, and Karen Herrle, an interior designer also employed with the Government Architect's office.
The sticker design was based on a poster devised, printed and distributed by a group of architects and interior designers working in the Government Architect's office, Sydney, early 1967, as part of the movement to have Jorn Utzon returned as architect of the Sydney Opera House following his 'forced' resignation in February 1966. The donors were both architects in the GA's office at the time and assisted with poster printing and distribution. The stickers played a similar, though smaller scale, role in the protest campaign.