Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

E.A.W. Special

October 9th, 2014 by

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This photograph shows the E.A.W. special, currently suspended from the ceiling of the Museum, and part of  the Auto Obsession exhibition.

This is a light, compact, one-off, home-made racing car built in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney between 1949 and 1957 by E A ‘Wilbur’ Watson, a self-taught automotive engineer who worked with a young Jack Brabham in the early 1950s. 

Auto Obsession, part of our Re-Collect project to ensure greater public access to the Museum’s rich collection features over 25 restored and original historic cars.

 

Photography by Sotha Bourn

© All rights reserved

All rights reserved


Umbrellas, Australia Square, c. 1969

October 8th, 2014 by

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Australia Square recalls the piazzas of mediaeval cities in the way that Sydney people respond to what is provided and congregate in its open but contained space.

Harry Seidler, The Bulletin

The photograph above, from the David Mist archive collection, was taken for the 1969 publication, Sydney: a book of photographs. The composition of the photograph places the semi-circular enclosure in the foreground with the diagonals of the wall on the left and the shadow breaking the image surface up into a series of geometric shapes. The umbrellas echo the curves of the enclosure and the circular shape of the Australia Square tower, the tallest lightweight concrete building in the world at the time.

As well as enhancing the design, the outdoor umbrellas installed at the Harry Seidler designed Australia Square complex also encouraged use of the outdoor areas, protecting the people from the fierce Australian sun.

According to Wikipedia, in the 1950s Frei Otto transformed the universally used individual umbrella into an item of lightweight architecture. 

 

Photography by David Mist

© All rights reserved


The lyre

October 7th, 2014 by

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The portrait photograph is an opportunity to display proud possessions and fashion consciousness. Jewellery, an age-old signifier of wealth, status and style, features strongly in many photographic portraits such as this one from the Tyrrell collection. What people wore for their photographs can tell us something about them as individuals and also some things about them as a group. In photographs we can observe not only what was worn, but how. The unknown young woman in the photograph wears a brooch in the shape of a lyre at her throat and a blue-bird pin underneath, (see detail below).

The lyre, a musical instrument, is also associated with poetry. The Shorter Oxford dictionary defines lyric as of, or pertaining to, the lyre, a stringed instrument of the harp kind, used by the Greeks for accompanying song and recitation,  and notes that the lyre has since become the figurative symbol of lyric poetry

The current MAAS exhibition, A fine possession: jewellery & identity, celebrates the central place of jewellery in our lives, from antiquity to the present day, through a sumptuous selection of jewellery made, worn and collected in Australia.

Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell collection c.1884

No known copyright restrictions

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A Fine Possession exhibition view

October 6th, 2014 by

A fine Possession exhibition view

Jewellery has been made and worn for personal, social and cultural reasons through millennia. Styles, materials and practices have varied across time and place, yet the desire to adorn ourselves has been universal.  A Fine Possession: jewellery and identity celebrates the central place of jewellery in our lives, from antiquity to the present day, through a sumptuous selection of jewellery made, worn and collected in Australia. 

Photography by Esteban La Tessa

© All rights reserved


The parasol code

October 3rd, 2014 by

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The meanings attached to the umbrella or parasol varies through history and across cultures. To Freud the umbrella was a phallic symbol.  Jung interpreted it as a sign of the human need for shelter, both physical and psychic. According to at least one art historian, in Japanese iconography, a couple depicted beneath an umbrella has a similar meaning to the Western symbol of a heart pierced by an arrow. In the 1880s, when this photograph was taken, a woman’s parasol had been identified by some writers as potential tool of communication as well as a fashion accessory. According to one article published in the  Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, titled The Parasol Code, parasols, like fans used by women in Spain, could be ‘implements of devastation’ to male hearts. By the manner in which a woman opened, closed or carried her parasol a man could gauge her level of interest. According to the code, opening the parasol with the point downward signified:

Acquaintance would not be disagreeable to me.

The woman in the photograph above, dressed fashionably in a ‘flower pot’ hat, gloves and sturdy shoes, sits on the studio-built rocky shore of a lake or ocean painted on a canvas backdrop. This unidentified woman was keen to be seen as someone with a connection to the outdoors or the sea. The carefully casual pose suggests that she has paused from her walk to rest on a rock, perhaps to admire the view. Her parasol, open and pointing downwards, seems at first an odd inclusion in the photograph, but it is possible, given that the photograph was made into a carte de visite and therefore intended for distribution, that it was part of a message.

Photography by Yeoman & Co.,

No known copyright restrictions


Spirit of ecstasy

October 2nd, 2014 by

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This photograph of a winged figurine floating through the clouds shows the bonnet ornament on the 1963  Rolls-Royce Phantom V  currently on display in Recollect: Cars Auto Obsession. The Rolls-Royce icon has  a fascinating history, with its origins in a love affair which has since been the subject of at least two books and a forthcoming film.

The Spirit of Ecstasy, also known as The Silver Lady, Emily or The Flying Lady was created by English sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes who was commissioned by his friend John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu after 1905,  pioneer of the automobile movement and editor of The Car Illustrated magazine from 1902. Montagu wanted to add a personal touch to his 1910 Rollls-Royce Silver Ghost. Sykes chose Eleanor Velasco Thornton, Montagu’s secretary and lover, as his model. Sykes originally crafted a figurine of her in fluttering robes, having placed one forefinger against her lips – to symbolize the secret of their affair. The figurine was named The Whisper and is on display at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu with other Spirit of Ecstasy figurines.

The first Rolls-Royce motorcars did not have radiator mascots; they simply carried the Rolls-Royce emblem, however, by 1910 personal mascots had become fashionable and Rolls-Royce were concerned that some owners were affixing inappropriate ornaments to their cars. Claude Johnson, then managing director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars turned to Sykes to design something that expressed:

the spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace…

Sykes chose to modify The Whisper, calling it first The Spirit of Speed and later the Spirit of Ecstasy.

Henry Royce did not believe the figurine enhanced the cars, asserting that it impaired the driver’s view, and was rarely seen driving one of his company’s vehicles adorned with the mascot. The Spirit of Ecstasy has, however, endured and is now designed to be retractable, adding a magical quality to its ethereal appeal.

Auto Obsession, part of our Re-Collect project to ensure greater public access to the Museum’s rich collection features over 25 restored and original historic cars.

 

Photography by Sotha Bourn

© All rights reserved

 

Refs:

Wikipedia The Spirit of Ecstasy

The Spirit of Ecstasy – Part Four, Barry RD Gillings, The Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club of Australia

The Spirit of Ecstasy, Edwardian Promenade


Parasol fashion

October 1st, 2014 by

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Florence Broadhurst, above, who was to become one of Australia’s best known designers, was photographed several times carrying an oil paper parasol during her travels through Asia in the 1920s. Parasols were popular fashion accessories at the time and the image above is not dissimilar to one published in fashion pages of The Sydney Morning Herald, in August 1926, with a caption predicting that parasols would be very fashionable in the spring. The Herald published a further update on the parasol just a week later.

Born in Mt Perry, Queensland, Florence exhibited musical talent from an early age and performed regularly for family and friends. Later she joined a troupe called The Globe Trotters and, in her early twenties, travelled with them fifteenth month tour, departing from Brisbane in 1922 and stopping in Singapore, Bali and Manchuria, (where the parasol may have been of some practical use as well). After the tour, Broadhurst and some other performers returned to Shanghai, the commercial centre of colonial Asia, where ‘Bobby’ opened The Broadhurst Academy.

The Broadhurst Academy Incorporated School of the Arts, a finishing school created to attract clients from the wealthy British and American expatriate communities, was Florence Broadhurt’s first business venture. The Academy offered classes in a range of disciplines including dancing, elocution, deportment and short-story writing.

Florence Broadhurst’s time in Shanghai was brief, a little over twelve months, but she made her mark and publicised the Academy whenever possible. Today, Broadhurst is best-remembered for her striking wallpaper designs. Some of these designs, along with other photographs from the album that includes this image, can be viewed in the Powerhouse Museum online collection database.

Post by Kathy Hackett, Photo Librarian

Collection, Powerhouse Museum. Photographer unknown. 97/98/1-4/3/1


Dick Smith’s EH Holden Premier sedan

September 30th, 2014 by

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This EH Holden is currently on display in the Museum as part of our Auto Obsession Recollect Series .  We have brought out a range of cars out from display at the  Powerhouse Discovery Centre and into the Museum.

‘Bashing’ was initiated in June 1985 by businessman, adventurer and philanthropist, Dick Smith, who wanted to “take a few mates on a drive in the outback”. The drive was eventually called The Bourke to Burketown Bash and went from Sydney to Bourke in Far West New South Wales and on to Burketown in Northern Queensland.

The idea was to relive the fun and adventure of the Redex car trials of the 1950s and to raise money for the Variety Club. Dick drove this car, a 1964 EH Holden, in the first Bash of 1985 with a surfboard on the roof-rack. The car went on to participate in and complete every Bash event up to and including 2001, raising $2 million over its career.

Photography by Kate Pollard

© All rights reserved

 


Pearls

September 29th, 2014 by

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The portrait photograph is an opportunity to display proud possessions and fashion consciousness. This unknown young woman was photographed in a three-quarter view, possibly a decision made to display her pearl choker to its best advantage and to include a glimpse of the ribbon tie at the back. Jewellery, an age-old signifier of wealth, status and style, features strongly in many photographic portraits such as this one from the Tyrrell collection.

The current MAAS exhibition, A fine possession: jewellery & identity, celebrates the central place of jewellery in our lives, from antiquity to the present day, through a sumptuous selection of jewellery made, worn and collected in Australia.

Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell collection c.1884

No known copyright restrictions


Jewels on Queen: Anne Schofield book launch

September 26th, 2014 by

A Fine Possession

These are the hands of Anne Schofield AM holding an oval sardonyx brooch/pendant carved with a neo-classical female bust that we were able to photograph whilst shooting interviews with her for our upcoming jewellery exhibition ‘A Fine Possession’.  Anne’s story about being a collector will be featured in a digital experience at the entry to our exhibition.

This Sunday Anne will be launching her book ‘Jewels on Queen’. Anne unlocks the cabinets in her exclusive Sydney Shop in Queen Street Woollahra and reveals the favourite jewellery she has bought and sold, and collected over 50 years.  World famous designers, flamboyant aristocrats and eccentric collectors all make an appearance in this book providing insights behind the stunning array of Jewellery.

Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski

© All rights reserved

The launch is in the Target theatre at 2:30pm, this is a free event but please book online here.

The following short video is a sneak peek into Anne’s ‘Collector Stories’ interview that we have created for ‘A Fine Possession: jewellery & identiy’.  Stay tuned for the longer version we will be putting up online soon.

Video by Leonie Jones AV Program Producer


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