Etching, 'In the Garden of Childhood', number 2 of 24 in Hotel Kennedy suite of etchings, paper, made and designed by George Gittoes, initial design drawings made in New York, United States of America, 1968-1971, etchings made Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1971
The Yellow House, was one of Australia's most colourful contributions to the hippy / psychedelic era of the late 1960s and early 1970s. It opened to the public on April's Fools Day 1970.
The Powerhouse Museum holds a reconstructed Yellow House puppet theatre, along with an original puppet storage chest, photographs, artworks and other material relating to the puppet theatre created for the Yellow House between 1969-1970. Together, these puppets and artworks were used and seen on a daily basis in the Yellow House Puppet Theatre, Stone Room and other areas of this artist residence, gallery and live performance space during it's heyday from 1970 through to 1971. The Magritte-inspired surrealist ceramics were used as props while the artworks hung on the outer walls of the Theatre.
The puppet plays were written and/or presented by George Gittoes. They include both ancient works based on classical Greek and Persian mythology and contemporary plays (eg Eugène Ionesco), and a suite of puppet plays on the story of the wives of great artists eg Mondrian's [wife], Picasso's wife Olga Khokhlova with son Paolo, and Albert Tucker's wife Joy Hester, who like Gittoes' girlfriend had tragically committed suicide.
Importantly, the puppet plays reflect Gittoes emerging interest in tragedy and conflict and his deep rooted interest in Greek and Persian mythology. Today George Gittoes is a leading and international award winning Australian documentary filmmaker.
Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator 2008
A leaflet was printed as a catalogue to accompany the etchings when they were exhibted at the Josef Lebovic Gallery in 1990. In this leaflet George Gittoes writes:
'In August 1971 the anthropomorphic insect, which later became the most important ongoing image in the visual language of my art, appeared for the first time in a dream. This was a period of extreme personal crisis. It was also the last frantic month of preapartion at the Yellow House for our important 'Spring Show Re-opening.
Upon waking from the dream I made sketches and the following notes:-
I dreamt I was in my childhood garden. I was standing on the brick pathway and looking into the garden when I saw a huge insect. It was like something from outer-space as it had a square box for a chest. It was about 18 inches long. It had hindquarters like most ants, or grasshoppers or crickets - I was looking at it in profile so I did not see it's face. It had just come out of it's shell, which resembled it's body except that it was light brown and transparent- the shell was still stuck to it's tail and suspended upside down in an arc above it. Where the shell and the tail section joined there was like red and crimson blood.
Then the insect looked around and I saw that it had a round little face which resembled a human face - or rather a pixie's face. It was golden and precious like a precious stone.'