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.
H6741 Revolver, pinfire, Navy, colt, America, c. 1870.(OF). Thuers conversion, 6 chamber revolver, No. 207161. Calibre .36 2010/31/1 Set of assaying equipment, weights (8) and wooden storage box, portable balance and wooden storage box, metal / glass / wood, made by L Oertling Ltd / W & T Avery Ltd, London, England, c. 1860
Save for sparse and sporadic failed convict rebellions and escapees who stole arms and turned them on their British overlords, prisoners and Aborigines had been the foremost human recipients of firearm discharges prior to the Australian gold rush. Free settlers and freed convicts were able to arm themselves; however, this was for culling native animals and humans, not specifically for self-defense. The gold rush changed this.
Powerhouse Museum collection, object 2000/113/7. Gift of Cooranbong Colliery – Powercoal Pty Ltd.
Coal miners are very aware of the risks posed by fuels. Whenever they go underground they carry self-rescuers like this one, which turns toxic carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide. News that a Sydney family was rushed to hospital recently suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning demonstrates that the rest of us should be just as aware of the dangers.
Neville Wran announcing the Powerhouse Museum project, 1979.
During the late 1970s I was living in England researching a doctorate. I also enjoyed a lot of museums including during a visit to Paris the Centre Pompidou, which had only been open for a year or so. I remember being totally blown away by it, astonished by this new take on the idea of a museum, and especially the way it made you look at art afresh, and how it had become a social centre, encompassing activities a long way from artistic contemplation.
It didn’t occur to me that anything like the Pompidou would be possible in Australia. Little did I know that another Australian traveller had also been impressed. It’s urban legend that recently elected NSW premier Neville Wran said to his wife Jill after a visit to the Pompidou: ‘I want one of those’. The Powerhouse is Neville’s Pompidou.
‘Seaside Cottages’, Wunderlich Limited, 1937. Powerhouse Museum collection.
The Gold Coast City Gallery has been displaying the exhibition Fibro Coast; it will soon be at the University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery. Fibro Coast is about the holiday architecture that is still a feature of the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
When I was writing the Fibro frontier during the 90s I went on a research trip to Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. I hadn’t been to any of these places since I was a child so it was a revelatory sort of trip, especially the amount of fibro on view which I eagerly recorded on film. So I was pleased to be asked by the Gold Coast gallery to write for the exhibition catalogue and give a gallery talk.
2010/1/90 Meccano model of an orrery, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England. 1960-1975 (detail)
Saturday 29th March 2014 from 8.30pm to 9.30pm EST is Earth Hour, when we get the chance to turn off the lights and possibly consider our place in the universe.
This Meccano orrery is a clever mechanical device used to demonstrate the position, motions and phases of our Earth and the Moon as we orbit the Sun. This motion explains much about our planet; day and night, the seasons, the tides and the prevailing direction of weather systems through the atmosphere.
C4737 pumice from the summit of Mount Erebus, collected during Sir Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition, Antarctica, 1909-1911
Over summer the beaches of Sydney have seen the arrival of a ‘pumice raft’. The high tide line has been marked by a distinctive row of small light weight rocks which floated in on the tide. The phenomenon caused much comment amongst beach goers and gave children an exciting new material for their sandcastles. As usual a search in the Powerhouse Museum collection turned up something interesting; samples of pumice collected in 1908 by the party who made the first ascent of Mount Erebus in Antarctica. The party included Sir Douglas Mawson and Dr T. W. Edgeworth-David and the climb was undertaken during Sir Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition. Continue reading
Heliostat, Tornaghi, Sydney, Australia, c. 1887 H8086 Collection: Powerhouse Museum .
Do you know what a heliostat is? As with most scientific instruments, I had my educated guesses but didn’t know for sure. Luckily my colleagues are Matthew Connell and Nick Lomb and they can assist me in understanding my curiosities.
Powerhouse Museum Collection object 85/304.
When I first saw this engine, running quietly on steam in the Powerhouse Museum, and read that it powered a gold dredge on the Ovens River in Victoria, I imagined a fairly benign operation, sucking up part of the river bed, extracting gold from it, and replacing the material. The ecology of the river would have suffered local disturbance, but that section of river would have recovered over time. I failed to guess the full impact of gold dredging.
Toy Hill’s Hoist “Mini-Hoist” rotary clothes line, made by Hill’s Hoists Ltd, Adelaide, South Australia, 1956-1959. Powerhouse Museum collection 87/664.
I’ve seen this little 60-cm high Hill’s Hoist clothes line in our basement storage area for years and always assumed it was a model which reps might have taken around to secure sales. Clearly, lugging a full-size clothes line around with you was out of the question and this is a perfect model of the famous clothes line which sprouted up in backyards across the nation. However, research in The Australian Women’s Weekly between 1956 and 1959 revealed ads for a Mini-Hoist, a toy version of the Hills Hoist rotary clothes line.