Category Archives: Art

Celebrating arts and crafts at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

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A6896-1 Sleeping Beauty Tableau, made by Rene Wilson, 1960 Collection:

A6896-1 Sleeping Beauty Tableau, made by Rene Wilson, 1960 Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Sydney’s Royal Easter Show came from agricultural beginnings. In 1822 in a new and small colony the Royal Agricultural Society was formed with the intention of increasing livestock within the colony and sharing farming practices. The first show was held the following year in Parramatta.

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Henry Parkes and the ‘crimson thread of kinship’

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Powerhouse Museum Collection object A7335. Gift of Stanley Lipscombe, 1980.

Powerhouse Museum Collection object A7335. Gift of Stanley Lipscombe, 1980.

In a speech to a Federation Conference banquet in 1890, Henry Parkes coined the term crimson thread of kinship to describe the ties that bound the Australian colonies. The reference was to shared Anglo-Celtic bloodlines, to the exclusion of Indigenous, Asian and other contributors to nation-building and the nation’s gene pool. This statuette celebrates his stirring speech, which was to resonate at least until 1914, when the ‘crimson thread’ was used as a call to arms.

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Sydney Biennale artists Hadley+Maxwell are ‘busting’ open the Powerhouse Museum Collection…

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Hadley Howes pictured behind the bust of Queen Victoria, while the hands of  Maxwell Stephens  are shown applying cine foil to the bust. Image: Powerhouse Museum

Hadley Howes pictured behind the bust of Queen Victoria, while the hands of Maxwell Stephens are shown applying cinefoil to the bust. Image: Powerhouse Museum

Canadian artists Hadley+Maxwell are set to be onsite in the PHM Turbine Hall on Tuesday 11 March 2014 to take an impression of our marble bust of Queen Victoria (90/960 – from the Grace Bros Building Façade, c.1880-90, maker unknown). What’s bound to leave an impression is the way they are reverse-casting the marble bust with a black foil material called Cinefoil.
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Neons and museums

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William Street, Sydney about 1968. Photo by David Mist, Powerhouse Museum collection. Gift of David Mist.

A few years back I was interviewed about the fate of Sydney’s neon advertising signs:

‘The great age of neon has passed,’ laments Charles Pickett, a curator of design and society at the Powerhouse Museum, an institution that houses the AWA sign that once sat atop the eponymous1930s skyscraper, and a red neon greyhound removed recently from Wentworth Park Raceway. ‘The days of William Street being a gallery for neon are long gone. The Coca-Cola sign is all that’s left.’

Since then we’ve added the Sharpies Golf House sign to the Powerhouse collection, another of many well-known neons to disappear from Sydney nights (there’ll be an article about the Sharpies sign in the next issue of Powerline). The decline of neon as a marketing and visual medium is partly one of advertising fashion and technological change – LED signs are cheaper, less fragile and use much less electricity than neons.
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The art of skating-David Griggs

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2003/221/1 Skateboard , with prototype graphic, "skateboarding saved my life", mixed materials, artwork by David Griggs / skateboard by Riot Skateboards, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2003

Skateboard , with prototype graphic, “skateboarding saved my life”, mixed materials, artwork by David Griggs / skateboard by Riot Skateboards, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2003. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Artist David Griggs reaches into the elements of popular and street culture, horror movies and the street sport of skate boarding. His art sources its inspiration from contemporary images and materials. David Griggs’art has had growing recognition since 1994 and he won the Archibald prize in 2013 for his portrait of TV Moore.
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From the moon to Camp Quality: Norman Hetherington’s puppets

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Norman Hetherington and Mr Squiggle

Norman Hetherington and Mr Squiggle

Norman Hetherington was a creator of wonder, but also, what may not be as well known, he was a creator of edifying realism. Having served in the Second World War, Hetherington got a taste of and developed a talent for performance art, being part of an entertainment unit. After the war he began making marionettes and puppets, and joined the Clovelly Puppet Theatre. He attended the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s television training school just prior to the introduction of television to Australia, so Hetherington had the opportunity to create a children’s puppet show which aired in 1956. Two years later he developed another show, Mr Squiggle, which ran for four decades.

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It’s a small world, art by Kendal Murray, Jeannie Baker and Sandra Taylor

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2012/69/1 Mixed media assemblage 'Deja Vu, Review', mixed material, made by Kendal Murray, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2011. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

2012/69/1 Mixed media assemblage ‘Deja Vu, Review’, mixed material, Kendal Murray, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2011. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Museums have used toys, models and dioramas to explain and comment on the workings of a larger world. Here, artist Kendal Murray has created a miniature surreal world atop an antique purse though her work Déjà vu, Review’. This sculptural mixed media offers a playful look at the domestic world and holiday culture. The miniature world draws us closer, and invites us to investigate.
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Marea Gazzard, AO, CBA (1928- 2013)

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Ceramic form, `Delos: Paros', stoneware, Marea Gazzard, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1972

Ceramic form, `Delos: Paros’, stoneware, Marea Gazzard, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1972.Exhibited in Clay +Fibre exhibition, 1973, Collection: Powerhouse Museum.

The Powerhouse Museum, along with many others in the fields of visual arts and crafts, was sad to hear of the death of Marea Gazzard, on 28th October, 2013. Marea Gazzard was an important figure in the chronology of Australian postwar ceramics, both as a significant and influential innovator in her own work and also in her support of the Australian crafts movement.

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‘Playing with Light’, weird drawings and an anamorphic mirror

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Powerhouse Museum Collection object H10497.

Powerhouse Museum Collection object H10497.

 

The excellent ‘Playing with Light’ exhibition opens at the Powerhouse Museum on 14 September to coincide with Ultimo Science Festival. Developed by Scitech in Perth, the exhibition invites curious visitors of all ages to interact with prisms, lenses, mirrors and colour. To herald its arrival, I’m featuring this playful anamorphic mirror and weird drawing, which live in the Museum’s basement along with two other distorted drawings that reveal their truth when viewed in the mirror.

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