Etching, 'The Street', number 4 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:
'At the age of 18 I travelled from Australia to New York to experience modern art first hand. The streets were tense with fear and excitement. When I returned to Australia I wrote my novel 'The Romances'. Two lines from this novel describing a dream, were the inspiration for this etching.
....a hunched back freak always fighing the half boar pig man monster behind the Hotel where Kennedy entered.
It was also from this quotation that the idea of calling this collection of etchings "The Hotel Kennedy Suite" came.'