Screen by Steven Kalmar, Sydney, c1955. Coffee table by Douglas Snelling and made by Functional Products Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1955. Settee, ‘RS161’ designed by Grant Featherston, Melbourne, c1951.
If you’re a fan of mid-century modern furniture, the Powerhouse Museum’s current display is a must-see. 7 Australian Designers profiles a number of Australia’s celebrated modernists and includes iconic furniture by Grant Featherston, Gordon Andrews, Douglas Snelling, Clement Meadmore and Steven Kalmar.
Underpants worn by James Castrission and Justin Jones during the Crossing the Ice Antarctic expedition. Image courtesy of James Castrission and Justin Jones.
These two pairs of undies are part of a large collection of equipment and personal items used by Antarctic adventurers James Castrission (Cas) and Justin Jones (Jonsey) on their ‘Crossing the Ice’ Antarctic expedition to the South Pole, 2011-2012.
You may rightly notice that the pair on the left does not look like your average pair of underpants and it would not be remiss of you to ask what the unusual thing attached to them could possibly be…
A TARDIS-shaped housing for an early prototype computer-based interactive being developed for the Powerhouse Museum in 1981. Image : Powerhouse Museum
The weekend of November 23/24, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the first screening of the iconic British science fiction television series Doctor Who First screened in the UK on November 23, 1963, the adventures of the nameless wandering time traveller and his British police-box-shaped time machine, the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space, if you’ve always wondered what that acronym meant), have been shown in countries around the world and become firmly embedded in global popular culture. In this blog post, I’ll explore a few of the Museum’s links to Doctor Who.
Tandem monkey bicycle with toy monkeys. The bike was made by the Edworthy Cycle and Motor Works of Sydney from metal tubing and re-spoked pram wheels. Powerhouse Museum collection 2008/197/2. Gift of Kenneth Edworthy, 2008.
Do you remember the monkeys riding tiny bicycles at Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo? This miniature tandem bicycle was made for the Zoo’s monkey circus and used between 1936 and 1940. It’s one of the most unusual bicycles produced by the Sydney firm, Edworthy Cycle & Motor Works.
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.
Cover, The Home, 1 November 1933, artwork by Eileen Gray. Powerhouse Museum collection.
A couple of month’s back I was contacted by a Daily Telegraph journo, doing a story about Sydney’s ‘Gatsby-style’ mansions. Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby had just hit the screens and the media was searching for evidence that 1920s Sydney had glamour to match that of New York.
95/298/1 Film costume, swimsuit, women’s, satin / nylon / sequins, worn by Esther Williams or Edith Motridge as Annette Kellerman in ‘Million Dollar Mermaid’, designed by Helen Rose, made by MGM Studios, USA, 1951-1952. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
Despite being a huge star for MGM in the 1940s and 50s, Esther Williams’ most famous connection to Australia is arguably her role in the film Million Dollar Mermaid where she portrayed the early life of Annette Kellerman.
Powerhouse Museum object 85/2580-94. Finlayson Toy Collection, purchased 1985.
When the author of this blog’s first ‘evocative object’ post asked me to think about what object from the Museum’s collection evoked strong emotions, a few childhood memories flashed through my mind – my first football with its strong smell of fresh leather and my first cricket bat, which I associate with another strong smell, linseed oil – but if I had to choose the earliest special thing from my early childhood it would have to be my pedal car.
Powerhouse Museum Collection, object 2001/84/108-5. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.
These boots were made for dancing. They are Blundstone work boots modified for tap dancing in the Sydney Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. Entering into the quirky, innovative spirit of Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention, I selected them for display alongside the staid historic Wellington boots that came from Britain with the exhibition.