Poster, 'When I had worked the pattern', screen print on paper, designed and printed by Marie McMahon with Frances Phoenix for the Womens Domestic Needlework Group, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1979
Poster art has evolved significantly from the early posters first produced in Australia in the early 19th century that only featured text, to the posters in the The D'Oyley Show Collection that are characterised by bold designs and effective use of photographic and graphic screen print techniques. During the 1970s, political poster groups and alternative print workshops formed in many Australian cities. This collection is an important group of posters that shows the emerging feminist voice of the Womens Domestic Needlework Group through poster art.
The Domestic Needlework Collective was established in 1976 to share skills in crochet, lacemaking and weaving and to encourage women to work collectively. This series of ten posters was part of 'The D'Oyley Show' exhibition of historic and contemporary domestic fancy work held in 1979. This ground breaking exhibition travelled throughout Australia in particular to country areas where these crafts were still being practiced.
This collection of posters has special significance as they represent a unique group in Australia's social history that combined feminist activism with a commitment to raise the profile and credibility of domestic needlework as a form of artistic expression. Women's domestic needlework has long been undervalued as a form of artistic expression and it was the aim of the 'D'Oyley Show' to recognise and celebrate the creative and artistic achievements of Australian women, past and present. Many of the posters feature historic images that show the shared experience of contemporary women with their historic 'sisters'. The posters also exemplify how the decorative style of contemporary screen printing has effectively been engaged to highlight feminist issues.
This is poster seven in a series of ten posters designed and printed by the Womens Domestic Needlework Group, Sydney 1979, with the assistance of the Crafts Board, Australia Council.
The Women's Domestic Needlework Group formed in 1976 with members, Frances Budden, Joan Grounds, Bernadette Krone, Kathy Letray, Patricia McDonald, Marie McMahon, Noela Taylor and Loretta Vieceli. The group began collecting women's domestic needlework and related artifacts amassing approximately 700 pieces. In 1978 a collective was formed, to categorise, analyse imagery and prepare the work for an exhibition. The aim of the exhibition was to bring an increased knowledge and appreciation of the creative achievements of women both past and present.
Several of the posters feature images of women from the late 19th-early 20th century providing historical continuity of feminist concerns and the need to recognise and consolidate the earlier contribution of activists from that period.
Note: A number of works by the Women's Domestic Needlework Group member, screenprinter Marie McMahon, are held in the Powerhouse Museum's collection. Marie completed art school at East Sydney Technical College in 1974 and was strongly influenced by the feminist art movement of the 1970s. Some of her posters explore issues of women's independence in the workplace and the home. Along with Frances Budden, Marie's crochet pieces often expressed political slogans.
This collection of ten posters was originally part of an exhibition called 'The D'Oyley Show' which was an exhibition of historic and contemporary needlework. This ground breaking exhibition, which was funded in 1979 by the Australia Council's Craft Board, travelled throughout Australia concentrating on country areas where women still practice these crafts.
'The D'Oyley Show' collection of posters was offered to the Powerhouse Museum by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, Office for Women.