Author Archives: Rebecca Evans

Julia Johnston – a sassy first generation colonial gal

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Cotton dress, probably made in Australia and worn by Julia Johnston, Australia, 1836-1840, MAAS Collection, 2015/21/1

Cotton dress, probably made in Australia and worn by Julia Johnston, Australia, 1836-1840, MAAS Collection, 2015/21/1

Frocks may seem rather innocuous but dress was essential in the creation of colonial Australia. In the 19th century, appropriate attire was a marker of respectability and an expression of status, wealth and beliefs. Continue reading

Love and jewellery

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IS-4117-0185-2Love it or hate it, it’s Valentine’s Day! A day that has celebrated romantic love in the West since the Middle Ages, it is often marked with the giving of gifts as tokens of love.

Love and jewellery have long been associated with each other, from betrothal to mourning; it has been given and worn to show passion, devotion and loss. It’s around this time every year that advertisements start popping up declaring diamonds to be the perfect way to declare love.

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Christmas, jewellery and the Museum’s collection

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Roseanne Barley RE pics 001
Roseanne Barley RE pics 002

Brooches, 'Found Out - Floral Brooches' aluminium / stainless steel, Roseanne Bartley, Australia , designed 2004, made 2013.Powerhouse Museum Photography: Rebecca Evans

Brooches, ‘Found Out – Floral Brooches’ aluminium / stainless steel, Roseanne Bartley, Australia , designed 2004, made 2013. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Photography: Rebecca Evans

I am pretty excited to share these floral brooches with you by contemporary studio jeweller Roseanne Bartley. Not only are they recent acquisitions for the Museum’s permanent collection, but they will also be displayed in our exciting and upcoming jewellery exhibition, due to open September 2014.
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Red, white and green- a festive look at the fashion collection

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Many fashion blogs and sites at the moment are focusing on what to wear for Christmas. This year, women’s fashions include dresses heavily embellished with sequins, lace and shiny fabrics. Interesting when I am sure, most Australians will just end up in T-shirts playing some sort of sport in the backyard.
Never-the-less it’s often the tradition around Christmas time to buy a new dress or outfit. With this in mind, I’d like to share with you some of the more festive dresses in the Museums collection.

Dresses ( left to right) Top row Mariano Fortuny, Beril Jents, 1870s Evening dress
Middle Row (left to right) Yoshiki Hishinuma, Akira Isogowa, Akira Isogawa,
Bottom Row (left to right) David Jones Pty Ltd , Angus Strathie for ‘Strictly Ballroom’,
Christian Dior.

History Week: the etiquette of food

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85/2157 Book 'Decorum' (etiquette & dress), USA, 1879, Collection:Powerhouse Museum (photography Rebecca Evans;Powerhouse Museum)

The knife and fork were not made for playthings, and should not be used as such when people are waiting at the table for the food to be served. Do not hold them erect in your hands at each side of your plate, not cross them on your plate when you have finished, nor make a noise with them.


A10189 Place setting, 9 pieces, sterling silver/stainless steel, used by Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Australia in 1954, Collection: Powerhouse Museum (photography Sotha Bourn, Powerhouse Museum)

I often wonder what people of the past would think about our contemporary eating habits. Sitting in any odd food hall I feel that past manners have been replaced with convenient and fast food. But, what were the manners of the past?
After a short look through our collection I came across some interesting books on manners and etiquette. For those who are etiquette unacquainted, here’s a brief run down of some of the dos and don’t of the past…


D6423 Model apple, 'Moss Incomparable', wax, modelled at Sydney Technical College, probably opainted by Charles Tom, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Australia, 1900, Collection: Powerhouse Museum (photography Kate Scott, Powerhouse Museum)

‘Cheese’ must be eaten with a fork….Never bite fruit… Do not scrape your plate to get the last drop… Never use a napkin in the place of a handkerchief by wiping the forehead or blowing the nose with it…


94/235/1-10 Sheet of labels, Fountain tomato soup, consisting of four labels for 16 ounce cans, Collection: Powerhouse Museum (photography Scott Donkin Powerhouse Museum)

… it is considered vulgar to dip a piece of bread into the preserves or gravy upon your plate and then bite into it… Soup should be eaten with the side of the spoon, not from the point and there should be no noise… Never if possible cough or sneeze at the table…


90/501-1 Potographic print, black & white, imae of 3 wine bottles, max Dupain(photographer)/ Alister Morrison (designer), Sydney, 1958-63, Collection: Powerhouse Museum

…if anything unpleasant is found in the food, such as a hair in the bread or a fly in the coffee, remove it without remark…
Young ladies should not indulge in a variety of wines, nor indeed in very much wine … When drinking do not empty the glass at one gulp; it is very vulgar to do so..


94/63/1-57/10 Glass negative, quarter plate, Palmer's Mystery Hike No 2, Tom Lennon, Sydney, Australia, 10 July 1932, Collection: Powerhouse Museum

… Eat neither too fast nor too slow… Never lean back in your chair nor sit too near or too far from the table.. food is to be eaten quietly and not ravenously .. It is not considered polite to eat up the last scrape of every food or every crumb of bread.’

‘Etiquette for Ladies’, Ward Lock & Co, Australia /England 1925
‘Decorum’(etiquette& dress), USA, 1879
‘Etiquette: A handbook for all occasions to suit Australian conditions’ Ross Bros, Pty Ltd Publications, Sydney, Australia date unknown
Pyke, L M ‘Australian Etiquette: Rules of Good Society’, Wilke & Co Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia, 1938

On the ninth day of Christmas

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my true love gave to me…. nine ladies dancing.

Nine ladies dancing from the Powerhouse Museum Collection

From left to right:
97/98/1-4/10 Page from photograph album, Florence Broadhurst, paper, unknown photographer, unknown location, c1920s

2007/56/88 Poster, ’50′s Widgie Bop’, screen print on paper, designed by Jan Fieldsend, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1979

95/28/232-2 Photographic print, gelatin print, black and white, Arthur Jandaschewsky as “Jandy” with dancing woman, paper, Phil Ward Studios Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia, 1955-1965.

2000/66/117 Photograph, Annette Kellerman, paper, USA, 1914-1920

A2778-131 Vase, dancing girl and swans design, earthenware, hand painted by John P Hewitt for Doulton & Co, Burslem, England,

94/63/1-73/5 Glass negative, half plate, Grand Final Dance Championship at the Jack Keating Dance Studio, Tom Lennon, Sydney, Australia, 19 December 1934

2003/147/1-2/3/1/1 Black and white photograph, two women dancing at the (RAT) Recreational Arts Team’s ‘LASERATRANCE’ Rat Party, William Yang, Sydney, Australia, November 1988

2003/147/1-2/8/1/11 Photographic slide, colour, woman wearing a spotted blouse dancing at the (RAT) Recreational Arts Team’s and MTV’s Colors de Benetton dance party held on 16 September 1989 at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion, Jom photographer, Sydney, 1989

2000/98/5 Photographic print, black & white, paper, man and woman dancing at a Cooma nightclub, photographed by Jeff Carter, New South Wales, Australia, 1957-1960, printed 2000

On the eighth day of Christmas

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my true love gave to me…..8 maids a milking.


Collection: Powerhouse Museum

A2035-1, Ceramic figure, female child holds sheaf of grain

93/338/286, Figure, Alice in Wonderland, `Alice’, earthenware, Royal Doulton, England, c. 1971

A9134-31, Cows, part of model toy farm

A5845-1, China doll, the type attached to powder puffs and dressing table ornaments. c. 1920

85/2102-5, Plate, “Little Bo Peep”

A9134-35, Maid, part of model toy farm

A10803-30, Plate, part of incomplete toy/doll’s tableware, brown transfer printed earthenware, maker and place unknown

2007/51/1-2/2, Maid from room 9 in main section of Doll’s house with fixed contents, wood / metal / ceramic / glass, made by Frans and Christina Bosdyk, Picton, New South Wales, Australia, 1997-2006

A7286-5, Miniature doll, nursemaid, for dolls house, ceramic / textile, unknown maker, unknown date of manufacture

On the seventh day of Christmas

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my true love gave to me….seven swans a swimming.

Seven swans from the Powerhouse Museum Collection

From left to right:
90/58-1/32/3 Poster, ‘Australia’, black swan, colour lithograph on paper, designed by Douglas Annand for the Australian National Travel Association, Sydney, 1954, reprinted for the Australian Tourist Commission, Melbourne, 1972.
86/580 Belt, womens, leather / brass, maker unknown, St Tropez, France, worn by Wiska Listwan, Australia, c. 1970
86/4343 Tooth Collection: Ashtray, metal, “Swan Export Lager”
A2778-214 Jardiniere, swans on lily pond, earthenware, made by Royal Doulton, Burslem, England, 1902-1927
H3881 Lace length, `Potten Kant’ border, bobbin made, linen, Antwerp/Flanders, early 18th century
2002/58/5-46 Toy farm swan, painted lead, William Britain Ltd, England, 1930 – 1939

On the sixth day of Christmas

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my true love gave to me…. six geese a laying.

Six geese from the Powerhouse Museum Collection.

From left to right:
2002/58/5-44 Toy farm goose, painted lead, William Britain Ltd, England, 1930 – 1939
A4855 Haircomb, tortoiseshell/gilt brass/coral, unknown maker, Japan, 1800-1868
92/1403 Rank badge, wild goose insignia, embroidered silk, China, c. 1900
A2778-28 Coffee cup and saucer, gold goose design, porcelain (bone china), painted by James Callowhill, made by Doulton & Co, Burslem, England, 1885-1891
85/2575-3 Toy goose, metal, clockwork operated, made by R.H, Germany, c. 1955
92/611 Dress accessory, toggle, egret or goose, ivory, China, c. 1700-1940