Poster, 'Bring Utzon Back and Keep Our City Clean', paper, designed by Bill Turner, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1967
This poster 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' posters were designed and printed by a group of young architects then employed by the Public Works Department in the New South Wales Government Architect's Office. The collection was kept by the donor, a former mayor of North Sydney and independent state and federal politician, since the late 1960s. The addition of the words 'and keep our city clean' in this poster is perhaps intended as a political message - or just reflects the sense of humour of those who devised the poster. The 'Bring Utzon back' protest movement is documented in A Watson (ed), 'Building a masterpiece: the Sydney Opera House', Powerhouse, 2006.
This poster was designed by Bill Turner and printed by architects and interior designers in the New South Wales Government Architect's Office. The font style of the letters was based on printing blocks salvaged from the Government Printing Office when it closed down. It is likely the 'Bring Utzon Back' section of the poster was printed using the silk screen that is part of another collection acquired by the Powerhouse Museum (Powerhouse Museum object number 2007/9/1:1:8).
This poster was devised, printed and distributed by a group of architects and interior designers working in the Government Architects 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 donor was an architect in the Government Architect's office at the time and assisted with printing and distribution. The poster was designed by Bill Turner and printed using silk screens and / or letter blocks salvaged from the New South Wales Government Printers office. Both the letter blocks and silk screen are included in another collection donated to the Powerhouse Museum (Powerhouse Museum object number 2007/9/1:1:8).