Hartmut Esslinger lets rip on design

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Hartmut Esslinger presents at MAAS

Hartmut Esslinger presents at MAAS

While visiting Sydney, German born American design luminary and provocateur Hartmut Esslinger set aside time to visit the Museum for the second time in six months and present his views on design. Convergent design and originality have long underpinned Hartmut’s practice since his early days as founder of Frogdesign. Hartmut had dropped in late last year after the opening of the INTERFACE exhibition and had promised to return. This time I had time to chat to him about the objects and designers represented in the exhibition.

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Japanese Folds exhibition

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 Minaret, lantern-shaped dress (Detail), Issey Miyake, Japan, 1995, MAAS Collection, 95/143/1

Minaret, lantern-shaped dress (Detail), Issey Miyake, Japan, 1995, MAAS Collection, 95/143/1

Japanese Folds (16 May-21 June 2015) is a playful exhibition showing contemporary fashion items and decorative arts from the Museum’s collection centred on the Japanese practice of folding. The exhibition provides an insight into the folding design concept with a focus on the way contemporary Japanese designers have adapted and incorporated traditional folding practices into their work.

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National Archaeology Week

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View of Palmyra, 1999, photographer Paul Donnelly

View of Palmyra, 1999, photographer Paul Donnelly

It was both poignant and fitting that National Archaeology Week coincides with the dreadful news that Palmyra (Tadmor) in Syria – the ancient oasis city of the desert that nearly two thousand years ago was the western fulcrum of the Silk Road – is under threat of destruction. Poignant, because this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site potentially shares the fate of Nimrud’s recent desecration by jack-hammers and explosives, and fitting, because it reminds us of the many reasons we should have an event such as National Archaeology Week – a time during which we can contemplate the advances and issues facing the discipline. In response to this news from Syria I thought I would share an object from the MAAS collection as well as some images taken by me in Palmyra and Damascus between 1999 and 2010.

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Making a nation: “Afghans” and their camels for Australian inland transport

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Afghan camel train on the Wanaaring Road, north west NSW. Camel trains varied from 20 to 80 camels. Photo by George Bell, part of the Tyrrell collection, MAAS, gift of Australian Consolidated Press, 1985. 85/1284-765.

Afghan camel train on the Wanaaring Road, north west NSW. Camel trains varied from 20 to 80 camels,1890-1917, photograph by George Bell, MAAS collection, 85/1284-765

It’s estimated that about 20,000 camels were brought from India during the second half of the 19th century to work in the vast internal areas of Australia. Accompanying the camels were Afghan drivers. The term “Afghan” is really a misnomer as few came from Afghanistan but rather more came from parts of India and present-day Pakistan. The Afghans, or Ghans as they became known, were extremely competent at working lines of camels and had great knowledge about the care of their charges, a skill which Europeans failed to master.
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Wirth’s Circus in the Pacific

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Poster, 'Wirth Brothers Grand Circus and New York Equescurriculum', printed in, Melbourne, late 1880s. Gift of the Wirth family, 2012. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

Poster, ‘Wirth Brothers Grand Circus and New York Equescurriculum’, Melbourne, late 1880s, MAAS collection.

This series of posts on Australia’s own Wirth’s Circus finishes up today with only a few days left to see our exhibition, Circus Factory. Previous posts have looked at when the Wirth’s circus hit the road, how we are exhibiting the Wirth’s Circus collection, the family’s musical beginnings, the diary of John James Wirth and how the Wirth brothers transformed from band to circusPhotographs and documents in the Museum’s collection reveal the rapid growth of Wirth’s Circus as well as a series of disasters and triumphs they encountered on their first overseas tours.

In the late 1880s, Wirth’s Circus was a growing family enterprise, including the four brothers, John, Harry, Philip and George, along with their sisters Marizles and Madeline. Documents in the Museum’s collection reveal that on its first overseas tours the circus met with a series of disasters and triumphs.

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The Many Sides of Charles Laseron, Part III

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Presented to the New South Wales Collection of Applied Art by Charles F. Laseron in 1927. Brush pot, Japan, 17th Century, MAAS collection, 115A

Presented to the New South Wales Collection of Applied Art by Charles F. Laseron in 1927. Brush pot, Japan, 17th Century, MAAS collection, 115A

Charles Laseron was an early collector at MAAS and formative influence upon our applied arts collection. He was also present during the Gallipoli landings in 1915. In the week leading up to the ANZAC Centenary, we are publishing a series of posts detailing Laseron’s life. This post is the final in a series of three.
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The Many Sides of Charles Laseron, Part II

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Charles Laseron catches an early penguin arrival in Spring, photograph by Archibald Lang Mclean, Cape Denison (Antarctica), 1911-14, State Library NSW collection, ON 144/Q498

Charles Laseron catches an early penguin arrival in Spring, photograph by Archibald Lang Mclean, Cape Denison (Antarctica), 1911-14, State Library NSW collection, ON 144/Q498

Charles Laseron was an early collector at MAAS and formative influence upon our applied arts collection. He was also present during the Gallipoli landings in 1915. In the week leading up to the ANZAC Centenary, we are publishing a series of posts detailing Laseron’s life. This post is the second of three. Continue reading

The Many Sides of Charles Laseron, Part I

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Charles Laseron among staff at the Technological Museum, Sydney, 1919, MAAS Collection, MRS 299/17 (detail)

Charles Laseron among staff at the Technological Museum, Sydney, 1919, MAAS Collection, MRS 299/17 (detail)

Charles Laseron was an early collector at MAAS and formative influence upon our applied arts collection. He was also present during the Gallipoli landings in 1915. In the week leading up to the ANZAC Centenary, we are publishing a series of posts detailing Laseron’s life. This post is the first of three.

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The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences has the moves!

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MAAS staff members Jack Mitchell, Kristina Koimtsidis, Nicola Josey and Nadia Odlum get their groove on for the worldwide 'Museum Dance Off' competition.

MAAS staff members Jack Mitchell, Kristina Koimtsidis, Nicola Josey and Nadia Odlum get their groove on for the worldwide ‘Museum Dance Off’ competition.

When you think of a museum employee you might imagine them wearing a tweed jacket, horn rimmed glasses and white gloves while they talk at you in dry monotone. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth (except for the horn-rimmed glasses. They’re great).

If you want proof, check out our entry for the Museum Dance Off competition. We need your help to win the Dance Off Trophy. The first round of voting opens at 10pm, Wednesday, 29 April and runs until 10pm, Thursday, 30 April (EST). Vote at When You Work in a Museum. Mark it in your diary!

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Commemorating 100 Years of ANZAC at Castle Hill

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Solider Portrait of Robert Millikin, photographer unknown, 1914 - 18, MAAS Collection (the Tyrell Collection), 85/1286-1018

Soldier Portrait of Robert Millikin, photographer unknown, 1914 – 18, MAAS Collection (Tyrrell Collection), 85/1286-1018

On Saturday, 25 April this year, Australia marks 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli during World War I. As part of proceedings to mark this significant anniversary, MAAS has collaborated with Castle Hill RSL Club on a special exhibition for their members and guests. The Centenary of ANZAC Exhibition combines objects from the MAAS collection, the Castle Hill RSL collection and personal archives held by members of the local community. It’s on display until 29th April in the main foyer of the Castle Hill RSL Club. Curatorial volunteer, Kate Clancy, reports on the installation process.

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