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.
Hammerhead crane, Garden Island, Sydney, 17.8.2013. Photo by Phillip Simpson.
Meccano model builders, industrial archaeologists and lovers of Sydney’s history were bitterly disappointed recently when the Navy announced on 8 August 2013 that the giant hammerhead crane towering over the Garden Island Naval Depot on Sydney Harbour will be demolished. According to the National Trust for NSW’s ‘Our Heritage at Risk’ web site, it’s “the largest crane in the Southern Hemisphere and it remains unique in Australia. Built to lift up to 250 tons, it is one of a series of cranes built around the world to service the British Navy fleet and, as such, demonstrates Australia’s position in the former British Empire”. Continue reading
85/885 Toy wringer, USA, c 1900. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
The life of women changed significantly with domestic design innovations of the 1950s and 60s, with access to time- saving devices like washing machines. With the advent of washing machines, fridges, kitchen whiz’s and hills hoist to name a few, the lives of housewives of the 60s was vastly different to their mothers. Continue reading
Still from Kirsty Boyle’s video Ningyo. In a grainy video shot to convey memory or recollection, the artist and the mechanism of a ningyo (puppet, person or effigy)
As one of the three ISEA2013 exhibitions closes this week, I found myself reflecting on the artworks and wondering at the possible connections to our collection. One of the most unusual works to experience in Synapse | a selection was Kirsty Boyle’s video Ningyo. In a grainy video shot to convey memory or recollection, the artist and the mechanism of a ningyo (translated as puppet, person or effigy from Japanese) are depicted in close association with each other. Over 8 minutes, Boyle coddles, plays with and eventually demonstrates how the mechanisms of the ningyo work.
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.
Puppet master Gerry Anderson (1929-2012) in a promotional portrait taken in 1996. Photo copyright David Finchett 1996
Readers of this blog post may not be familiar with the name Gerry Anderson, but you’ll almost certainly know his most famous television series Thunderbirds, which, after premiering in Australia in 1968, has been a staple of Saturday morning children’s television, screening almost non-stop since 1977.
93/1/1 Doll’s house, ‘A Perfect Little House’, with furniture, fittings and dolls, mixed media, made by Wilf Pownall and Alison Pownall, Gunnedah, NSW, c. 1940. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
Christmas is that time of year when thoughts of toys are unavoidable. Personally, I love dolls houses, the way the everyday boring world suddenly becomes special when replicated in miniature.
Victorian bow rocking horse, late 19th century, Powerhouse Museum collection, purchased 1985, 85/2060.
One of the classic images of the Victorian Christmas was the rocking horse which still features on cards today. At the turn of the twentieth century horses were still a vital part of life. In the country they provided muscle for many farm operations, and in the town they powered transport. It was no wonder that children enjoyed and wanted toy horses and none was more attractive and desirable than the ride-on rocking horse. In wealthy British households, where children spent hours separated from their parents in the nursery, the rocking horse was a favourite. More than any other toy of the period, it came to symbolise the stability and endurance of Victorian family life.
Dolls house “Charlaine”, 1946. Gift of Elaine Molloy, 2009. Powerhouse Museum Collection, 2009/32/1.
What do ANZAC Day, The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper and this dolls house in the Museum’s collection have in common? The answer is a heartfelt story which began when Charlie Sellers, who worked as a linotype foreman in the compositing section of the Herald, promised to build his youngest daughter, Elaine, a dolls house.