A major jewellery exhibition opens soon at the Powerhouse Museum

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Artwork, 'Tiara', aluminium, tin, by Fiona Hall, Sydney, Australia, 1990

Artwork, ‘Tiara’, aluminium, tin, by Fiona Hall, Sydney, Australia, 1990

This week we start installing this Museum’s most ambitions jewellery exhibition ever . Celebrating the central place of jewellery in cultures from antiquity to now, A fine possession: jewellery and identity will present over 700 pieces of jewellery from Australia, Europe, USA, Asia, Africa and the Pacific which were made and/or worn and collected in Australia. The exhibition opens at the Museum on 24 September.
A fascinating window into our past, jewellery remains an essential part of cultures around the globe. The exhibition will explore how we have expressed our desires, fears and hopes as well as our identity and creativity through jewellery; while jewellery we wear can reinforce our personal or cultural uniqueness, creative jewellers can express their identity and personal values through jewellery they design and make.

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War Time Dress on the Australian Dress Register

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Tinonee Victory Parade Flag dress worn on Australia Day 1919

Tinonee Victory Parade Flag dress worn on Australia Day 1919

The Australian Dress Register (ADR) is a website that celebrates men’s, women’s and children’s dress that has an Australian provenance. Museums and private collectors are encouraged to research their garments and share the stories and photographs on the Register. The Register supports the garments remaining in their locations, but allows the information to be shared with a world-audience. The criteria for contributing to the Register is simple – if an item of clothing has a good story behind it and is put in the social context of the time it was worn, then we’d love to see it on the Register. With the 100 year anniversary of World War 1, it’s a good opportunity to look at what entries are on the Register that are associated with wartime. You can search the browse option or the timeline on the front page. You can do in-depth searches by clothing type, era, location, theme or manufacture details. There are not many uniforms on the ADR, so we would like to focus on this area in the next few years.

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Convict jacket

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A9762, jacket, mens, convict period, felted wool, maker unknown (war department, made in Great Britain, worn in Australia, 1855-1880

A9762, jacket, mens, convict period, felted wool, maker unknown (war department, made in Great Britain, worn in Australia, 1855-1880

This coarse wool jacket is a reminder of the harsh life experienced by convicts in colonial times. Conspicuous, two- coloured uniforms were made to differentiate troublesome convicts and humiliate them, and ensured it was difficult to escape undetected.

For convicts transported to the colonies of Australia, inadequate clothing was one of the many hardships to be endured. Although many thousands of convicts were transported to New South Wales between 1788 and 1840, few articles of convict clothing have survived. They were not considered prized items to be preserved. The Australian Dress Register documents a few convict items.

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David Mist collection digitization project

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Portrait of children published in ‘Sydney: a book of photographs’, 1969

Portrait of children published in ‘Sydney: a book of photographs’, 1969

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences holds two important photography archives related to Sydney photographer David Mist – the Studio Ten archive (92/401) acquired as a gift of the photographer in 1992, and the David Mist archive (96/44/1) acquired as a gift of the photographer under the Australian Government Taxation Incentives for the Arts program in 1996. In recent years David Mist has been helping digitize these irreplaceable analogue collections with the Museum regularly lending David batches of negatives and transparencies to scan. These digital records then get added to the Collection Database. Thank you David!
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Sir Henry Parkes: Not just the father of federation

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85/1286-509 Glass negative, full plate, 'Sir Henry Parkes', unattributed studio, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1923

85/1286-509 Glass negative, full plate, ‘Sir Henry Parkes’, unattributed studio, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1923. Coolection: Powerhouse Museum

Many Australians associate Federation with Sir Henry Parkes and his significant contribution in bringing Australia together in 1901, but he was much more than that. Parkes arrived in Sydney in 1839 with his wife and young child (Sir Henry would eventually father 17 children), finding work as a laborer and later in a foundry. He was also a bone and ivory turner and manufacturer, journalist, publisher, writer and politician.
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Wire has many uses from bee houses to candle snuffers

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90/58-111 Sculptural form, face, glass/metal/insulating wire, Douglas Annand, Sydney, 1950

90/58-111 Sculptural form, face, glass/metal/insulating wire, Douglas Annand, Sydney, 1950

Wire has been a material used in a variety of areas from the domestic sphere to agricultural, medical and applied arts areas. The Museum’s collection has wire products from cake cooling racks to electrical components and to sculptures like the one above made by designer Douglas Annand. The sculpture is a collage of various materials to create an outline of a human face. The central feature is a cylindrical clear glass form containing a blue liquid, with a number of circular indents, creating glass feet, and a nose. Green insulating wire is wound around glass and extends out either side with a green button for each eye.
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Science Week 2014: Super Sopper and super fun at Castle Hill

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Powerhouse Museum collection object 2001/76/1. Gift of Kuranda Manufacturing, 2001.

Powerhouse Museum collection object 2001/76/1. Gift of Kuranda Manufacturing, 2001.

The Powerhouse Discovery Centre will celebrate Science Week with lots of activities on the weekend of 16-17 August. Our example of the Super Sopper, an Australian innovation that has been removing excess water from sports fields for forty years, is one of many objects that will star in behind-the-scenes tours. Liquid nitrogen, fire and chocolate are a few themes explored in a bagful of spectacular science shows that all visitors can watch. There are plenty of hands-on science experiences and object talks that are open to all. But numbers are limited for behind-the-scenes tours and some workshops, so early booking is recommended. And don’t miss the bees, python, lizard and frogs and the chance to talk to their expert handlers.

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The Story of Australia’s First Airmail-Part 9

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Guillaux preparing to take off from Ascot racecourse in August 1914. These film frames come from a segment of newsreel in the Museum’s collection. Presented by Mr F Kilian, Editor, Movie Tone News, 1961. P2670-10/2

Guillaux preparing to take off from Ascot racecourse in August 1914. These film frames come from a segment of newsreel in the Museum’s collection. Presented by Mr F Kilian, Editor, Movie Tone News, 1961. P2670-10/2

Despite the rigours of the first airmail flight from Melbourne to Sydney over July 16-18 (as recounted in parts 6-8 of this story), Maurice Guillaux was not one to rest on his laurels. Within days he was in the air again, making several flights with Lebbeus Hordern’s Farman Hydro-aeroplane (see part 3 of this story), including one on July 22 when he carried two passengers, Hordern and Lt. Colonel WWR Watson, on the first three-person flight in Australia. With Hordern perched precariously on the aircraft’s fuel tank, Guillaux took the Hydro-aeroplane up to 1500ft (almost 500m) and put it through a series of manoeuvres, including a thrilling dive towards the water.

In carrying without difficulty a slightly higher total payload (209kg) than the aircraft was supposed to carry (203kg), this flight demonstrated the potential of the aeroplane as a weapon capable of carrying a militarily useful bomb load, in addition to a pilot and bombardier. With the clouds of war gathering in Europe at the outbreak of World War I, Guillaux made frequent comments about the utility of planes in warfare and their probable use in the conflict: “aerial machines would prove perhaps the greatest factor in the present struggle.”

: Lebbeus Hordern’s Farman “hydro-aeroplane”, in which Guillaux would carry two passengers, an Australian first, in July 1914 Gift of S. Dyson, 1982. P3283-1

Lebbeus Hordern’s Farman “hydro-aeroplane”, in which Guillaux would carry two passengers, an Australian first, in July 1914, Gift of S. Dyson, 1982. P3283-1

On July 25, Guillaux gave another aerial performance with the Bleriot at Newcastle, drawing a crowd of about 10,000 exactly three months after his first performance in that city. He discussed plans for a tour of the northern regions of NSW, but these would never eventuate due to the war. Guillaux agreed to undertake an advertising stunt for Black and White Whiskey, dropping envelopes containing money over Circular Quay on July 31, but the police cancelled this event over fears of possible injuries in the waiting crowd of 5,000, as people jostled to catch the falling prizes.

Guillaux’ last major aviation display for Sydney was scheduled for Saturday, August 1. Unfortunately for the French pilot, his only serious accident in Australia occurred during this performance. Shortly after his takeoff from Ascot racecourse (on the site of what was later to become Kingsford-Smith Aerodrome), while he was flying at a height of 100-200 ft (30-60m; accounts vary as to the altitude), Guillaux seemed to lose control of the Bleriot, which dipped as if commencing a dive, but then plummeted to the ground, with Guillaux apparently wrestling with the controls. The stunned crowd stood transfixed as the Bleriot smashed into the ground alongside one of the track railings, the body of the aircraft breaking into two pieces.

Frames from a film clip of the Bleriot’s crash at Ascot racecourse, showing Guillaux being rescued from the wreckage and led away, bandaged, for hospital treatment. Presented by Mr F Kilian, Editor, Movie Tone News, 1961. P2670-10/2

Frames from a film clip of the Bleriot’s crash at Ascot racecourse, showing Guillaux being led away, bandaged, for hospital treatment. Presented by Mr F Kilian, Editor, Movie Tone News, 1961. P2670-10/2

Trapped in a tangle of broken fuselage and wires, the half-conscious Guillaux was rescued from the wreckage by members of the crowd, who cut away the debris and carefully lifted him free. Although he suffered cuts to his face, arms and legs, his clothes were badly torn and the ligaments of his right ankle ruptured, Guillaux luckily did not sustain any more serious injuries. Treated at the crash site, with his head swathed in bandages, he nevertheless waved as he was helped away, at which the crowd cheered wildly and the band played the Marseillaise.

Guillaux was taken in a car to St Vincent’s Hospital, in Darlinghurst, where he was treated by Sir Alexander McCormick. He spent a few days in hospital recovering, receiving many messages of sympathy and support. The Bleriot, however, was quite severely damaged “the framework was broken in two pieces, the tail planes badly damaged….the propeller was smashed to matchwood, the oil tanks were bent into one another and the engine was buried in the ground”.

The cause of the accident seems to have been the steering gear controlling the warping of the wings to provide lateral control (the Bleriot did not use ailerons) jamming in some way. Guillaux reported that he was unable to steer the plane left or right, but he did still have control of the elevator planes and could have landed safely in the crowd; but as this would have meant danger to the spectators he chose, instead, to make the plane dive into the ground away from them.

Newsreel film frames showing he wreckage of the Bleriot after the crash, nose first into the ground. Guillaux clearly had a lucky escape from serious injury. Presented by Mr F Kilian, Editor, Movie Tone News, 1961. P2670-10/2

Newsreel film frames showing he wreckage of the Bleriot after the crash, nose first into the ground. Guillaux clearly had a lucky escape from serious injury. Presented by Mr F Kilian, Editor, Movie Tone News, 1961. P2670-10/2 

 

Look out for the next instalment of Guillaux’ story in September. If you’d like to explore the newspaper reports of Guillaux’ flights, which were drawn upon for this blogpost, you can find them by searching on the National Library of Australia’s Trove Newspapers site. The Aviation Historical Society of Australia conducted a re-enactment of the first airmail flight between July 12-14. The Powerhouse Museum is also celebrating the centenary of the first Australian airmail with various events this year. Check our website and that of the Powerhouse Discovery Centre for further details.

Written by Kerrie Dougherty Space Technology and Aviation Curator

Celebrating Engineering Week 2014: A Model steam tram with double-decker trailing car

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Powerhouse Museum Collection, object B2566. Gift of A Cutcher, 1984.

Powerhouse Museum Collection, object B2566. Gift of A Cutcher, 1984.

I chose this object to celebrate Engineering Week (4-10 August 2014). It’s an excellent working model of a steam tram, the first type of tram that served Sydney. Now the city’s light rail system, which is tiny compared to the extensive electric system that followed the steam tram era, is set to grow. If you’d like to hear top-level presenters speak about this extension, you can register to attend a free Engineering Week forum on Sydney’s Light Rail on 6 August, 6 to 8 pm, at the Powerhouse Museum.  Several other events are also planned for the week.

Should transport engineers be inspired by the model, with its double-decker trailing car? People are already questioning whether the new trams will have enough capacity to meet demand in the busy south east of the city, which has no heavy rail service. Sydney led the world with its extensive use of double-decker trains, and double-decker buses recently returned to the city’s streets; perhaps double-decker trams should be considered as well.

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Prize pool

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Detail model, entry structure 2008. Powerhouse Museum collection, gift of Rachel Neeson in memory of Nicholas Murcutt.

Detail model, entry structure 2008. Powerhouse Museum collection, donated through the Cultural Gifts Program by Rachel Neeson in memory of Nicholas Murcutt.

A lot of people were pleased when Prince Alfred Park swimming pool starred at the recent 2014 NSW architecture awards. As well as the prize gong, the Sulman Medal for public architecture, the new pool received the Lloyd Rees Award for urban design.

I was among the pleased people as during 2013 I acquired a collection of 18 models made during the pool’s design and approval process. Rachel Neeson who designed the pool with her late partner Nicholas Murcutt suggested that I must have ‘sniffed’ an award win 12 months ago. I certainly loved the pool but also like anyone who visits architect studios I was often struck by the number of design models lying around apparently discarded.  Despite the advent of 3D imaging and design software models are still a crucial part of the design process for most architects, hence my request to Rachel for the pool models.
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