SUMMER 2015â€“16 The Art of the Brick: DC Comics Babbage archive discovery Romance Was Born interview Interpreting Evidence
(Clockwise from left) Eight-pointed star from 1 Million Stars to End Violence workshop; Evidence: Brook Andrew installation; Justice League, by Nathan Sawaya in The Art of the Brick: DC Comics; Red Waratah Jillaroo, Cooee Couture collection, Romance Was Born.
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From the Director From the archives News Parramatta update Teacology workshop Nathan Sawaya interview Museums Discovery Centre Good Design Awards Romance Was Born interview Members lift-out The Goods Line opens Cafe and Store news Babbage archive discovery Disobedient Objects program New acquisition Stargazing world record Sky Guide highlights Interpreting Evidence 1 Million Stars project Coming soon People Meet Virginia Mitchell From the collection
COVER IMAGE: STREAK, NATHAN SAWAYA, 2015, PHOTO BY MITCH HADDAD (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP) PHOTOS BY MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS; CHRISTIAN CAPURRO, MITCH HADDAD, LUCAS DAWSON
From the Director THIS HAS BEEN a year of change and growth for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. The Museum’s origins come from the World Exhibition movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, events held around the world to demonstrate the marvels, curios and wonders of a society in an era of great technological change. Our applied arts and sciences collection and remit is as important and unique today as it was at our inception. It provides an opportunity to deliver on core agendas such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) while presenting one of the world’s great collections. Over the course of the year we have focused on new experiences for our audiences:
Rose Hiscock welcoming the Bankstown Koori Elders group to the Powerhouse Museum.
• We have presented 17 new exhibitions and displays • Visitation at the Powerhouse has increased by 12% • Over 6500 collection items went on display at the Powerhouse, a five-fold increase on the previous year. We also launched two Australian ‘firsts’. In recognition of the Museum’s 30,000 piece fashion collection, the Museum established the MAAS Centre for Fashion. In January 2015 we made a significant addition to Sydney Observatory with the launch of the East Dome, which provides an accessible telescope dome experience for people with limited mobility. Our new Kids Free program, supported by the NSW Government, was simultaneously introduced with the Australian Museum in June 2015, and enables each museum to reach new audiences. MAAS welcomed over 28,000 visitors on the initiative’s launch weekend. Looking forward, we have a great line-up of exhibitions. Our program includes The Art of the Brick: DC Comics, an art exhibition by artist Nathan Sawaya using hundreds of thousands of LEGO® bricks, Disobedient Objects from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and an immersive art installation by contemporary artist Brook Andrew. I will be stepping down as MAAS Director at the end of 2015 to take up a new position as the inaugural Director of Science Gallery Melbourne. It has been a privilege to lead the Museum over the past two and a half years. I am extremely proud of our achievements and have appreciated the strong support of staff, volunteers, members and stakeholders. The Museum’s highly respected Director Curatorial, Collections & Exhibitions, Dolla Merrillees, will act as Director from 1 January 2016 as the search process for a new CEO takes place.
Trustees Professor John Shine AO FAA (President) Ms Lisa Chung (Deputy President) Professor Shirley Alexander Mr Robert Cameron AO Mr Tim Ebbeck Professor Barney Glover Mr James Longley Dr Judith O’Callaghan Executive Rose Hiscock Director Dolla Merrillees Director Curatorial, Collections & Exhibitions Leann Meiers Director Development & External Affairs Michael Parry Director Programs & Engagement
FROM THE ARCHIVES
At the beach THIS PHOTOGRAPH OF bathers at Coogee Beach was taken by Kerry & Co, one of Australia’s largest 19th-century photographic studios. Owner and founder Charles Kerry (1857–1928) was a successful photographer best known for his scenic views, which were often made into postcards. The painterly reflections of the figures in the wet sand would have made this image particularly appealing to the scenic view market. Most of the people are covered from neck to knee in accordance with dress codes for public bathing at the turn of the century. There are 2900 Kerry & Co photographs in the Museum’s Tyrrell Collection of glass plate negatives. High-quality, custom reproductions of photographs from this collection are now available for purchase as framed or mounted prints or on canvas. Please visit 1000museums.com/museums/museum-of-appliedarts-and-sciences
Coogee Beach, NSW, silver gelatin dry plate glass negative (about 1902–12).
PHOTO BY KERRY & CO STUDIO, TYRRELL COLLECTION, MAAS
Uniforms in miniature THE STITCHES IN Time Barbie and Ken doll exhibition was presented by Qantas with support from Mattel Inc. and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Set up in the Qantas Club lounge at Sydney airport domestic terminal, the display features the Museum’s collection of 42 dolls dressed in miniature Qantas uniforms dating from the 1920s to 2009. Reflecting one man’s passion for the company and its history, the garments were handmade by John Willmott-Potts, who worked as a cook and flight steward with Qantas for 24 years.
(Above) Barbie and Ken dolls in the Qantas Club lounge; (top right) Curator Eva Czernis-Ryl (left) showing the Koori Elders ceramic pieces in the MAAS collection.
ON 20 OCTOBER Bankstown Koori Elders were invited by MAAS to morning tea and a VIP tour of the Powerhouse. Director Rose Hiscock welcomed them to the Museum, and the Elders were delighted to spend time viewing the collection and taking a guided tour of the Museum’s basement storage area. MAAS Curator Eva Czernis-Ryl showed them ceramic pieces in the collection and Programs Producer (Indigenous) Marcus Hughes showed some of the Museum’s key Indigenous objects. The Elders are practising artists who won first prize in the 2014 Indigenous Ceramic Art Awards for their artwork After the Rain, Bungle Bungle. This visit is the start of a new relationship between MAAS and significant Elders in the Bankstown Koori community.
Curator lecture ON 16 DECEMBER, MAAS curator Eva Czernis-Ryl will present a lecture ‘Studying the Royal Collection in royal palaces: an Australian curator’s perspective’. A unique record of the tastes, collecting passions and interests of English monarchs over centuries, the Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important collections of fine and decorative arts in the world. Eva has just returned from London, where she attended the prestigious Royal Collection Studies course as the 2015 Copland Foundation Nina Stanton Attingham Scholar. You are invited to join Eva to hear about her experience. The lecture will take place at the Powerhouse at 12.30–1.30 pm; for details see maas.museum/whats-on
(Below) Digital Learning Manager Peter Mahony and students at the launch of the 2016 MAAS Learning Program; (right, from left) Dolla Merrillees, Suzy Menkes, Collette Dinnigan and Rose Hiscock in Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced.
PHOTOS (LEFT TO RIGHT) COURTESY QANTAS AIRWAYS; RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS; RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
Learning Program MAAS HAS RECENTLY launched its 2016 Learning Program. As Australia’s leading museum for excellence and innovation in applied arts and sciences, we aspire to inspire creativity and learning in all our visitors. We invite teachers and learners to follow the See –Think – Wonder interpretation approach for all visits to the Museum. This approach, developed at Harvard University, helps enrich and personalise each learner’s experience of objects, exhibitions and spaces, and provides valuable opportunities for post-visit projects. What do you see? What do you think about that? What does it make you wonder? For more information about this approach, and for ideas on how it can be applied to your visit or in the classroom, go to maas.museum/ learn or contact us at learn@maas. museum
In conversation: Suzy Menkes and Collette Dinnigan ON 22 OCTOBER MAAS Centre for Fashion presented a conversation between fashion journalist Suzy Menkes and designer Collette Dinnigan. Discussion topics covered everything from ‘fashion suffragettes’, art and creativity, and the speed of the digital world to the importance of working with and supporting socially responsible manufacturing in third world contexts. Dinnigan talked about her self-taught journey learning about lace by sourcing and researching old laces such as gossamer-fine Chantilly and its unique production methods, as well as working with artisans all over the world to create her exquisite pieces. She compared lace houses to regional wines — each with a distinct and unique personality and character. The conversation ended on the notion of fashion as diplomacy — clothes as a helpful tool for some women to effectively express and present themselves to the world.
Vision for a new Museum
An aerial view of Parramatta.
IN FEBRUARY NSW Premier Mike Baird MP and Deputy Premier Troy Grant MP confirmed the Powerhouse Museum will be relocated to Parramatta as part of the development of an arts and cultural precinct in Western Sydney. The announcement included the following commitments: • $10 million to develop a business case for the Museum’s relocation • a design competition to develop ‘an iconic’ and ‘fit-for-purpose facility’ to house the new Museum • a guarantee the proceeds from the urban renewal of the existing site in Ultimo will go towards the new Museum in Parramatta. This project presents new opportunities for collaboration across Sydney, Western Sydney and Parramatta. It will cement Parramatta’s position not only as a hub for arts and culture, but also a centre for education, science and technology. Two potential sites have been shortlisted: the former Parramatta Golf Course site and the Riverbank site (known by locals as the former David Jones car park). Both sites present significant but different opportunities for a new Museum. The cost of developing and operating each site will be reviewed before one is chosen. The MAAS team is working with local and global consultants to deliver the first stage of business planning for the new Museum. Timeframes have not yet been determined but the planning and development process is expected to take several years. In the meantime the Powerhouse will continue on its present site, building audiences and its exhibition program for the transition to Parramatta.
PHOTOS (LEFT) COURTESY PARRAMATTA CITY COUNCIL; (OPPOSITE, FROM TOP) RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS; WEAVE PARRAMATTA ARTISTS; RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS
MICHELLE WASHINGTON – HEAD OF INFRASTRUCTURE ENGAGEMENT
Teacology crochet art installation DEBORAH VAUGHAN â€“ PROGRAM PRODUCER (REGIONAL)
(Top) Teacology, Nicole Barakat and WeAve Parramatta Artists, 2015; (middle) Teacology workshop, 2015; (bottom) Nicole Barakat (left) and Kiri Morcombe, Coordinator WeAve Parramatta Artists (right), at the installation.
TEACOLOGY WAS A vibrant pink presence at the Powerhouse Museum for the duration of Sydney Design in September. This crochet art installation responded to the theme of rule breaking while maintaining traditions, and included an artwork, a participatory artwork, a wall piece and a series of crochet workshops. A partnership between MAAS and Parramatta Artists Studios led to the commission of artist Nicole Barakat to work with WeAve Parramatta Artists Gail Barclay, Claudia Bromley, Ling Halbert, Farzana Hekmat, Khal Bibi Hekmat, Tulip Hura, Haifa Kazemi, Hilin Kazemi, Mere Makene, Dami Patel and Tacheen Stuart. Barakat is a contemporary artist known for her use of traditional and contemporary textile practices. She has worked collaboratively on many community-engaged projects. WeAve Parramatta Artists is a group of multicultural women who practise traditional fibre crafts. WeAve work with artists to produce public art projects under the coordination of Parramatta Artists Studios. Teacology reflects the multicultural make-up of the group. The subject matter is imbued with the shared activity of meeting over cups of tea while making the installation. The artists crocheted hundreds of small objects relating to every aspect of tea drinking. Cups, teapots, Persian tea urns, tea buds and flowers, biscuit trays, tea-harvesting baskets and even the spiders that live on tea plants were finely crocheted from fluorescent pink bricklayers line. The participatory component by Barakat consisted of a crochet drawing with bricklayers line, inspired by a crocheted lace collar in the MAAS Lace Study Centre. Ironically, the original collar was made by George Gibbon, a bricklayer. Visitors learned to crochet in workshops run by MAAS staff and WeAve Parramatta Artists, and progressively added their pieces to the artwork over the nine days of the festival. In total 1200 members of the public were inspired to learn to crochet â€” no mean feat.
Artist Nathan Sawaya with The Darkest Knight; (opposite) the Justice League.
Nathan Sawaya talks Super Heroes
The Art of the Brick: DC Comics had its worldwide premiere in November at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney — the exclusive Australian venue for this exhibition. Nathan Sawaya talks to Editor Jo Lyons about finding the LEGO® Super Hero within. 9
How long have you been working with LEGO? For more than a decade now I have been using the LEGO brick to shape my creativity and build my artworks. However, building out of LEGO is something that has always made sense to me. As a child, and even later in life when I was a lawyer, clicking the bricks together was satisfying. It was like snapping bits of my life together in a way that felt quite orderly. As a lawyer, when I came home at night I would need a creative outlet. Some nights I would draw, some nights I would paint, and some nights I would sculpt. One day I challenged myself to sculpt something out of this toy from my childhood. I started doing largescale sculptures. Most nights I would find myself snapping bricks together even before I took off my suit or ate dinner. It felt good after a long day of negotiating contracts to build something with my hands. Slowly but surely my New York apartment started to fill up with sculptures. The artwork consumed almost every room. I posted photos of the works online to showcase the artwork in a virtual gallery to friends and family. When my site crashed one day from too many hits, I realised it was time to leave the law firm and pursue my passion to become a full-time artist. I quit my job as a lawyer, opened an art studio and took a leap of faith. You’re the first contemporary artist to bring LEGO into the art world. What prompted you to begin working with LEGO bricks? Like most people, I began using LEGO when I was a child. It was a great outlet for my imagination. As an artist, I wanted to elevate this simple childhood toy to a place it had never been before: fine art galleries and museums. The goal 10
was to transcend models of cars, trucks and towns and explore deep, meaningful themes that would be juxtaposed with the elementary and common uses of the brick. I like using the bricks as an art medium because I enjoy seeing people’s reactions to artwork created from something with which they are familiar. Everyone can relate to it since it is a toy that many children have at home. But it is more than that. My favourite thing about using LEGO bricks is seeing someone get inspired by my artwork to go and pick up a few bricks and start creating on their own. There are over 2000 different LEGO elements available. Why do you seem to prefer to work with the simple 2x4 classic brick? I use many different LEGO elements for my artwork, although I do focus heavily on a lot of the various rectangular shapes. I appreciate the cleanliness of the LEGO brick. The right angles. The distinct lines. As so often in life, it is a matter of perspective. Up close, the shape of the brick is distinctive. But from a distance, those right angles and distinct lines change to curves. It’s all about perspective. What is the largest LEGO sculpture you have ever made? In terms of the sheer number of bricks, the largest sculpture is the Batmobile vehicle in the new Art of the Brick: DC Comics exhibition. However, I’ve built life-size dinosaur skeletons, Hollywood billboards and other large-scale installations. The Art of the Brick: DC Comics is quite a different exhibition to your previous work. What is it about the DC Comics characters that drew you to them? I was looking to create a brand new collection of artwork and wanted to
Superman: Blue Bricks: 28,397 183 x 185 x 69 cm
‘As an artist, I wanted to elevate this simple childhood toy to a place it had never been before: fine art galleries and museums.’ 11
MAAS MAAS MAGAZINE MAGAZINE
Splish Splash Bricks: 25,563 81 x 132 x 71 cm
THE ART OF THE BRICK: DC COMICS SUMMER SCHOOL HOLIDAY PROGRAM DANIELLE AYNSLEY – PROGRAM PRODUCER
THE MUSEUM HAS a host of creative and entertaining events for visitors to The Art of the Brick: DC Comics these summer school holidays, with a special emphasis on comics and Super Heroes. Visitors to the Powerhouse will make their favourite Super Heroes come to life by contributing to the Museum’s giant comic strip, drawing the action and giving their hero a voice using magnetic speech bubbles. Family members of all ages can put on a cape, choose some props and have their photo taken from a bird’s-eye perspective. The photos of heroes soaring through the air or fly-kicking Super-Villains will be projected onto the Museum wall. The Art of the Brick sleepovers will provide visitors with the unique chance to view the exhibition after-hours and sleep among the trains, planes and automobiles in the Transport exhibition. A portion of our ever-popular digital learning workshops will feature or use LEGO as a tool, and will run throughout January and inspire clever playfulness through hands-on engagement with digital technologies. For further details and information about holiday events please visit maas.museum
explore themes of good and evil, right and wrong. This led me to stories of heroes and villains and the pages of comic books. The whole world knows Superman and Batman, and their epic battles with Super-Villains. These characters are powerful inspirations. And besides, I wanted to challenge myself to construct Wonder Woman’s invisible plane! Tell us about your favourite Super Hero. As a child, I grew up watching the animated TV program Superfriends. My favourites were the popular Justice League characters. But as I dove deeper into DC Comics, one of my favourite characters became Bunker, who uses the creative energy of his mind to build brick-like objects. There is something about that power that strikes a chord with me.
PHOTOS BY MITCH HADDAD
What era of comics is the biggest inspiration for your DC Comics creations? DC Comics in the Silver Age (about 1955–70) has some of the very best moments in comics history, but I also like much of the current work. What is the process involved in creating your larger sculptures? It starts with inspiration. Many of my works centre on the phenomenon of how everyday life, people and raw emotion are intertwined. I want my art to captivate people for as long as it can keep their attention. Once I am inspired with a concept, I draw it out. I am always carrying my sketch pad so that I can draw my ideas as they come to me. Before I start building, I try to plan out as much as possible. I want to envision in my mind what the finished sculpture will look like before I put down that first brick. As I start building, I actually glue the bricks together as I go. This involves painting a little
bit of glue on each and every brick. If I make a mistake, well, I’m good with a hammer and chisel. Once the sculpture looks the way I had envisioned it, I know that I’m done. The amount of time it takes to complete a sculpture depends on the size and complexity of the piece. Some can take a few days, and some can take a few months. For example, a life-size human form can take up to two or three weeks. Have you ever had a major LEGO accident/mistake and had to start again from scratch? I don’t know if ‘start again from scratch’ ever really applies because creating art is one continuous process. Ideas flow from one work to the next. The knowledge gained from experimenting on this particular piece is then retained and used in a later piece. Of course there are moments when I’m working on a piece and it doesn’t look right, so I will remove entire sections and start over, but that is part of the process. You need a bit of patience for this job. What are the hardest parts of a character to build with LEGO bricks? With this new exhibition focusing on Super Heroes, I found that building capes out of LEGO bricks is quite challenging. Using these rectangular bricks to try to replicate thin fabric blowing in the wind turned out to be quite difficult. Is Superman faster than the Flash? I bet I can beat both of them at building a LEGO Batmobile.
Discovery Centre preview The Museums Discovery Centre at Castle Hill reopens in 2016 following a major capital upgrade to improve public access and provide new visible storage displays.
Concept drawing by BVN Architecture.
THE STATE GOVERNMENT funded project provides a new state-of-the-art shared storage warehouse for three of the state’s largest cultural institutions — the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums — and improves public access to their hidden collections. The expanded facility is a response to two major issues facing contemporary museums globally: a lack of storage space for growing collections and the demand for increased public access to collections. ‘It will be the first time people can see collections from those three significant state museums on the one site,’ says Director Rose Hiscock. ‘That’s really unusual. No other state enables open access to collections on this kind of scale.’ Located on a 2.8 hectare site at the junction of Windsor and Showground roads, the site was purchased in 1947 by MAAS to conduct research into essential oils derived from Australian eucalypts. Rows of eucalyptus trees planted then remain on site as a historic reminder of the Museum’s first work in the area. The site has been progressively developed since the mid-1970s as the Museum’s major storage facility for its
larger transport and technology objects, including horse-drawn vehicles, agricultural and engineering equipment, models and furniture. Several large warehouses covering more than 13,000 square metres house 50,000 objects from the MAAS Collection. Collection storage is increasingly difficult and expensive, so it is an enormous advantage for a museum to own a storage facility and have the capacity to expand. The new Deep Store (I Store) adds a further 9000 square metres of storage. It will house objects from each of the museums, making it the only publicly accessible museum store in Australia that brings together objects from three distinct collecting institutions under one roof. At the same time, ‘visible storage’ is an innovative approach to increase public access that is a growing trend worldwide. Most museums only exhibit a fraction of their collection at any time. Visible storage enables visitors to access more of the collection without the usual exhibition approach, allowing them to develop their own pathways and their own connections. Objects are displayed as they are stored — crowded on to shelves, in boxes, pallets and crates, which means visitors can access more of the collection more of the time.
The newly refurbished Visible Display Store (E Store) will house up to 4000 objects across six rooms that show the depth and breadth of each museum’s collection. The MAAS industrial machines and locomotive engines visitors may remember, will be joined by canoes, skeletons and taxidermic birds, the sledge that carried Douglas Mawson on his Antarctic expedition and architectural remnants from some of Sydney’s finest early homes. Many more objects will be stored in large warehouse buildings across the site. Tours will be available for small booked groups to experience behind-the-scenes and gain insight into how museums work. The Centre will maintain its popular school education programs with expanded connections to core curriculum areas and a refreshed approach to object-based learning. With auditorium and video conferencing facilities, a maker space and informal learning lounges, the Centre will offer an array of learning and engagement opportunities. Open weekends will continue to be the cornerstone of the annual program with opportunities to meet the experts, see rare objects and have new experiences, along with school holiday programs that offer a mix of fun and hands-on learning.
Good Design Awards Each year MAAS makes a selection of finalists from the Good Design Awards for display at the Powerhouse Museum. Curator Campbell Bickerstaff reviews this year’s selection.
THE ANNUAL GOOD Design Awards® program recognises and rewards excellence in product design and innovation. Each year a panel of design experts assesses hundreds of new products or services designed in Australia and overseas. The judges look at criteria including innovation, visual appeal, quality, sustainability, safety, ease of use and commercial potential. Entries that meet the criteria receive a Good Design Selection and those that exceed the criteria receive a Good Design Award for ‘design excellence’. MAAS makes an annual selection from the finalists for display, showcasing ingenious and thoughtful product solutions from some of Australia’s most creative designers. Here are the highlights from 2015.
Design in the digital realm is well represented with a virtual whammy bar, an affordable flatpacked virtual reality headset which uses your own smart phone as the display, and a device to control the application of the internet of things (IoT) in your home. These digital devices demonstrate the application of design to solve problems associated with product costs, access and getting around the wear and tear on traditional analog tools. The exhibition also features high-end technology in the form of spectrographic analysis equipment and digital video production technology. Agilent, maker of laboratory spectrographic analysis hardware, has refined that technology to make it portable. Not everyone needs a spectrometer but being able to take your spectrometer to the object/ material being analysed is less invasive than slicing a bit off to take back to the lab. The affordable highend digital cinema camera made by Blackmagic is the world’s first camera that allows users to upgrade the image sensor and a versatile lens mount, extending its life as technology evolves. 16
PHOTOS BY RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS
(Opposite) Ziegler & Brown Portable Grill by Peter Anderson and Stephen Spencer; (below) O Six Hundred Kayak designed by Andrew Simpson.
Designs that consider hazardous environments and our ability to work in them include: • a telephone for use up to 20km underground in harsh, dark, noisy and gaseous mines • a tool that can analyse the temperature, humidity and solar radiation to calculate an appropriate level of human exposure • the winner of the MAAS Design Award—a boot that can reduce injuries for miners. It is light-weight, comfortable, supportive and equipped with rapid release laces so you get to the shower before the hot water runs out • a radical rethinking of the tomahawk, as used by emergency services personnel, in the form of the Goshawk. This is an ergonomic Emergency Rescue Tool that can break locks, pierce tyres, cut through walls, metal and glass, pierce reinforced Kevlar materials, defeat timber structures, smash masonry and brick, or perform any task that requires uncompromising destructive performances • a small wave-like wall from specially designed bricks that can be laid in an undulating manner without the risk of collapse, which has been constructed in the exhibition space, showcases Brickworks’ solution to the unique problems of construction and stability posed by the new University of Technology (UTS) Dr Chau Chak Wing building designed by Frank Gehry. LEISURE AND HEALTH
Designs for a more leisurely and healthy life include: • a versatile portable BBQ made from carefully considered materials • the ecothread blanket, for use by airlines, manufactured from recycled plastic yet offering the highest level of luxury and comfort • the O Six Hundred Kayak, a reimagining of a 4000-year-old Inuit design machined from ply, assembled from a kit and skinned in translucent Kevlar • the Optimised Positioning System (OPS) hip joint replacement technology that customises each procedure and replacement to match a patient’s existing physiology and a work pod designed to encourage colleagues to work more closely. Presented by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in association with Good Design® Australia.
PHOTOS BY (OPPOSITE) LUCAS DAWSON; (ABOVE) C DENNINGTON
In conversation with Luke Sales
Romance Was Born designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales are among the first ambassadors for the MAAS Centre for Fashion. Sales talks to Editor Jo Lyons about their inspirations, the fashion industry and their future.
(Opposite) Red Waratah Jillaroo, Cooee Couture collection, Spring/Summer 2015; (above) Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales.
MAAS recently acquired an important group of Romance Was Born outfits through the Centre for Fashion 2015 annual appeal. The Museum holds a significant collection of Australian fashion from the early 1800s to the present day. Other fashion designers featured in the MAAS Collection include Christian Dior, Collette Dinnigan, Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. What is it like to be part of this collection? They are all really amazing designers throughout history to today, so to now be alongside them is incredible. But I think the best part is that we have been chosen to represent the industry now — and that is a huge honour. Along with a selection of your garments, MAAS has acquired documentation and stage sets relating to these pieces. Why is it important to include these as well? What we do isn’t just about the clothes — we also put an enormous amount of effort into the way we showcase the collection and the collaborators we bring in. It’s nice to have that acknowledged and recorded, as collaboration is a huge part of our practice. The first Romance Was Born garment that MAAS acquired was your Iced Vovo dress in 2009. Can you tell us the story behind its design and production? That collection was inspired by the idea of old ladies having a tea party under the sea. It was kind of a tribute collection to our nannas, our memories of visiting them and what they mean to us now. Anna had a strong recollection of Iced Vovos; we made a few test runs of the Vovo dress to get the size right and our friend Nella volunteered to make the pompoms. It was a very fun time in our career; we felt free and had no commercial restrictions … and never 19
(Opposite, top) Rainbow Reflections of Oz, Cooee Couture collection, Spring/Summer 2015; (bottom) Iced Vovo dress (2009).
Do you have a favourite piece in your own archives? From the same collection, Doilies and Pearls, Oysters and Shells, there is an octopus bonnet; again it was a silly doodle I had drawn one day when I was bored and I thought it was cute, so we got our friend Erin to crochet one. It was a joke but like the construction of the Iced Vovo dress, we took it very seriously. Erin stopped in all the time to test the size, check if the tentacles were too long and whether the suckers were the correct size, and so on. We also tracked down the same polyester ribbon thread that nannas use to cover coat hangers, which is another little reference from the time. It has a bag it rests in so it doesn’t stretch out of shape (under instruction from MAAS curator Glynis Jones); again, it comes from a time when we were having so much fun, and nothing felt too outrageous — in fact it was the opposite … and a stupid idea was a good idea. That collection was so well received by media and buyers — I think of the crazy ideas and it makes us feel really happy that people got it. This year Romance Was Born joined the first ambassadors for MAAS Centre for Fashion. What has been a highlight so far? As fashion ambassadors we had a fabulous night with Australian fashion icons Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson for an ‘in conversation’ event at the Powerhouse as a part of Sydney Design 2015 and the Centre for Fashion. You work with many creatives on aspects of the design, production
and presentation of your collections. Why is this process so important to your label? Is there one collaboration that stands out? This is something we have done from the start of our label; it always felt natural, and we work well to a brief … otherwise the ideas are endless. Linda Jackson was our most recent collaboration and it feels like the most genuine collaboration we have done — she was very hands-on with the printing and the painting of the fabric. She stayed up late sewing with us and she was so emotional at the show that we knew she was as excited as we were. It was so lovely to get to know her better and now to call her a dear friend. Again we were just thinking of being creative and making something beautiful and it was a really nice collection to work on because of all this. Can you tell us about why you were drawn to the work of Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee? I think Anna and I try to evoke this spirit of fashion that you don’t see much anymore in fashion these days. This is something Linda’s and Jenny’s work always captured for us. Other more obvious reasons are that the freedom and expression in their work was something we ourselves have always been so drawn to. They made a huge impact on our cultural landscape and that’s something we’ve strived for too. The fashion industry is one of the world’s most competitive and demanding businesses. How do you manage the creative and commercial sides of your label? It’s been a huge learning curve for us and I think we’re only starting to get our heads around it; we used to resist and pretend we didn’t need to be part of it, but when we see people wearing our clothes on the
PHOTOS BY (TOP TO BOTTOM) LUCAS DAWSON; RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS
in a million years would we have thought our Vovo dress would end up in the MAAS collection. It was really just a joke, but a lot of our good ideas start off as a joke — like our brand name, for example.
streets, that’s the end goal — the design realised. For this to happen you need to think commercially sometimes. Your designs are often inspired by the Australian landscape. What is it about the landscape that draws you to it? Australia’s landscapes are so unique. We really have it all; each environment inspires so many ideas of what could be. In our shows we place the collections in settings that feature these environments. Even our Renaissance Dinosaur collection, which was meant to be set in a Jurassic jungle, was inspired by a trip to Lord Howe Island … it was like when they return to the park in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. You have made some interesting decisions about the direction of your label: turning down John Galliano’s internship invitation, showing your collection in a contemporary art exhibition rather than at Fashion Week. What values inform decisions about paths you take? It really has just always been what feels right at the time. Each show we have done has to serve a purpose or communicate a message to the media about our business and where we are at, as much as it is about revealing the story behind the inspiration. Your collection shows are held in carefully crafted environments where the space, staging and
music set the scene, immersing the audience in an alternative world where you tell a story through your collections. Why do you prefer this theatrical presentation over the straight runway show? We’ve always said if you want to see pedestrian fashion you can see it at the bus stop. It’s so much hard work and organisation, and unbelievable (actually ridiculous) amounts of money. It should be a moment of magic and beauty and inspiration; that’s what fashion is to us. How has your brand evolved since you established Romance Was Born in 2005? We have really only been making proper commercial collections for around six years so that has been a very big shift. But the essence of what we are on about hasn’t really changed that much at all … except we have matured as people and we hope the label has a little as well. What has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on to date? It’s hard to say; we are lucky and get to work on many things, and even outside the collections themselves there are many exciting projects. From memory Anna and I first worked on making costumes for Karen O, lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which we hoped she would wear to their Sydney concert. She stormed onto the stage in a giant red tulle ball thing we had made with giant eyes all over it. It was such an exciting night and that energy pushed us into working together on future things and eventually starting our business. What’s next for Romance Was Born? We are slowly but steadily expanding into the overseas market and celebrating 10 years of business next year. 21
(Left) View of The Goods Line looking towards MAAS Junction café; (below) MAAS staff having a friendly game of table tennis.
Delivering The Goods Line THE GOODS LINE, Sydney’s newest pedestrian walkway, opened on Sunday 30 August and runs from the Ultimo Road railway bridge to the Museum’s new entrance in Macarthur Street. Its route is part of the old Darling Harbour goods railway line, which brought the state’s produce to waiting ships at Darling Harbour. This part of the line was constructed as a freight line at the same time as the first passenger line between Sydney and Parramatta, which opened in 1855. The State’s first railways were established to transport valuable wool from rural NSW to waiting clippers for export to English textile mills, which was much more cost effective than slow overland drays and wagons. The refurbished Goods Line walkway retains and interprets some remaining industrial heritage that highlights its original construction and operation. An 1853 arched sandstone-block culvert or drain may be one of the oldest surviving pieces of infrastructure from NSW’s earliest railway construction. Fittingly, it’s not too far from the only surviving pieces of rolling stock from Sydney’s first railway, Locomotive No 1 and its first, second and third class carriages, on display in the Museum.
The Ultimo Road railway underbridge is a delight to amble across, metres above the traffic, without having to negotiate this busy thoroughfare. At one end of the bridge passers-by get a glimpse of the past through a 36-lever interlocking machine still in situ on the site of the 1908 Ultimo Street signal box which burnt down in 1996. The Goods Line is a relaxing yet vibrant addition to our precinct with just the right mix of industrial elements, grassy places to sit and relax, park benches, table tennis tables and exercise equipment, and even a fun water feature adjacent to the culvert. It is a great example of modern reuse of a historic industrial corridor.
PHOTOS BY (THIS PAGE) RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS; (OPPOSITE) MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
MARGARET SIMPSON – CURATOR
The Museum’s cafés have recently had a makeover. THE REVITALISED CAFE on level 1, MAAS Junction, is an inviting terminus for people enjoying The Goods Line and a pleasant rest area for Museum visitors. The Junction’s colossal metal door, originally installed to make way for the Museum’s collection of locomotives and rolling stock, is thrust open most days, beckoning locals and passing pedestrians. The Junction opens early to catch commuters, will remain open at night for summer events and also provides a lively function space. MAAS Café on level 3 now has shaded outdoor seating and visitors can enjoy a glass of wine, bubbly or beer with their meal. A great espresso and a milkshake bar complement a wide range of pastries and snacks, breakfast rolls, lunchtime burgers with pulled meat or traditional patties served on milk buns, and sliders for kids.
MAAS Store The MAAS Store is now collaborating with artists, designers and specialist retailers. THE MAAS STORE hosts a lively commercial art space, featuring works by contemporary artists and designers, which are available for purchase. For a limited time it is also collaborating with specialist retailers Published Art and Make Designed Objects. Make stocks renowned Australian designers and makers including Fink & Co, The Jam Factory, Power to Make and Stephen Ziguras. Visitors can also pick up some great gifts and homewares by iconic international brands such as Marimekko, Iittala, Alessi, Normann Copenhagen and Eva Solo. Published Art stocks the latest award-winning design, architecture, art, fashion and photography books alongside books customers cannot find elsewhere. New merchandise also includes Collette Dinnigan stationery and outfits from Sydney designer Sally Smith. Don’t forget to buy your favourite Super Hero from the Art of the Brick shop as you exit.
Babbage archive discovery Punched paper found in the MAAS collection provides insights into scholar and inventor Charles Babbage.
(Above) The punched paper found among Babbage’s letters in the MAAS collection; (right) intern Lisa Chidlow; (opposite) Principal Curator Matthew Connell holding the paper, ‘a prophetic gesture from the 1800s’.
TI DERROVIDELIC TEMPOR MOLUME PE AU
JO LYONS – EDITOR
PHOTOS BY (OPPOSITE, FROM TOP) RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS; MARTYN PATFIELD; (THIS PAGE) RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS
MAAS INTERN LISA Chidlow was helping archive a box of Englishman Charles Babbage’s letters (dated 1830–60) at the Powerhouse Museum when she found a fragile piece of paper. There were 130 letters in the box and archivist Paul Wilson had made a rudimentary listing of the items. Lisa’s task was to expand on this, transcribe them, record the date, and so on. ‘Babbage is considered the “father of the computer”, a gifted mathematician, inventor, philosopher, mechanical engineer,’ Lisa says. ‘I came to the bottom of the box and noticed a scrappy-looking folded paper.’ It was in French and attached to it was a section of perforated paper with lots of patterned holes. ‘It was an example of something from a Jacquard weaving machine in which mechanical looms were programmed to punch in various patterns. The sample is from a French exhibition in 1855 and is exciting because it appears Babbage made notes on the paper about hole sizes.’ Lisa, along with Museum staff, is excited about the discovery. ‘I knew it was significant mainly because of Babbage’s notation on the perforated section. I recognised his writing and his notations seem to clearly relate to his interest in punchcard technology, so I took it to Paul. He called Principal Curator Matthew Connell who, being an expert on Charles Babbage, was delighted by the find. The paper was in poor condition and it was immediately put aside for conservation work.’ Paul Wilson has worked extensively with the Museum’s Babbage collection. He says, ‘Our Babbage holdings are one of the jewels of the Museum’s collection. The letters, invitations, documents and other material provide amazing insights into the world of Charles Babbage and how he interacted with the British intelligentsia of his day.’ Matthew Connell admits he hadn’t noticed the yellowed and folded sheet of paper. He says Babbage was intrigued by Joseph Marie Jacquard’s weaving machines and planned to use their methods in the analytical engine. ‘When he was thinking about how he would [develop] his analytical engine, the computing machine, he needed a way to store information and he needed a way to send new instructions. He saw
Jacquard’s automatic looms shortly after they were invented and immediately decided he would use punched cards.’ Jacquard weaving machines had been using punched cardboard from the early 1800s but using paper was a new development that had the potential to significantly impact the amount and cost of storing programs in a weaving machine. Matthew says, ‘Babbage may already have been thinking about what would, in 1965, come to be known as Moore’s Law, which predicted the ever-decreasing size and cost of storing and processing data. This is like a prophetic gesture from the mid 1800s and is evidence of Babbage’s continued interest in the development of his analytical engine.’ Matthew says the paper strip is significant but further investigation into the meaning of the notes is needed. The difference engine in the Museum’s collection was assembled by Babbage’s son Henry after his father’s death. It was a precursor to Babbage’s analytical engine, which anticipated the structure and principles of modern computing. Two of Babbage’s eight children emigrated to Australia. The papers were donated to the Museum by a descendant of Babbage’s in 2013. Because they are fragile, the papers can’t be displayed for long periods, but the paper strip will be displayed in the future. 25
Civil Discobedience THE MUSEUM’S AFTER-HOURS program, MAASive Lates, has enabled adults to see new exhibitions in a different light with performances, hands-on activities, music, food and drinks. The 2015 series ended on 26 November with MAASive Lates: Civil Discobedience. Inspired by the Disobedient Objects exhibition, the night was hosted by Nell Schofield and celebrated collective civil action with a disco twist. DJ Simon Caldwell rocked the night with disco tunes from the front line. The crowd was entertained by the amazing Martenitsa Choir, a dance performance by Michael Cutrupi from Fat Boy Dancing and an appearance from comedian Mark Trevorrow as Bob Downe. A performance by Australian singer and actor Paul Capsis was a highlight. The event was the perfect platform for a new social movement — 100 Moving Men against domestic violence. Guests also wove stars for the 1 Million Stars to End Violence Project and learned how to make a gas mask. A new MAASive Lates series will be launched in 2016. Against the backdrop of the Museum’s exhibitions, it will explore the collision of art, science and design in unusual and unconventional ways. See maas.museum/whats-on for details.
(This page) Paul Capsis performing at MAASive Lates: Civil Discobedience; (opposite, top) Katia Molino and Nigel Kellaway in BRIEF SYNOPSIS, 2013; (bottom) Stephanie Outridge-Field (centre) and Carrie Reichardt (right) with the Tiki Love Truck.
(CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT) PHOTOS BY ANNA KUCERA; HEIDRUN LÖHR; TONY WEBDALE
Join in an exciting program of disobedient talks, tours, performances and experiences.
ON TOUR FROM the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Disobedient Objects is an exhibition of art and design from below. The objects were not made by commercial artists and designers, but by activists and people in social movements collectively taking design into their own hands to make a change in the world. MAAS has organised a number of events in association with the exhibition including talks, tours, a MAASive Lates experience and an appropriately disobedient performance from The opera Project. Throughout our shared histories, mosaics and murals have taken a key position in our civic spaces. They have been used to mark territory, to celebrate major cultural transitions, to commemorate our histories, and to articulate notions of place and identity. In October Carrie Reichardt (extreme craftivist and renegade potter) and Stephanie Outridge-Field (Australian architectural ceramist and cultural worker) joined Catherine Flood (Curator V&A Museum) and Dr Dave Sudmalis (Director Emerging and Experimental Arts, Australia Council) for an engaging discussion of the rise, fall and future of these noble architectural beasts and their role in our 21st-century landscape. The Disobedient Objects program will finish on the weekend of 13–14 February with an appropriately disobedient ending — The opera Project’s GLORIAS: Not an opera. Not a recital. Not a love story … a completely disobedient performance. This event will take place at the Powerhouse Museum on Saturday and Sunday at 6.00 pm. GLORIAS is a disobedient work of performance directed by The opera Project’s Nigel Kellaway, which concentrates on the energy of two pianists, Benjamin Au and Michael Bell, and the GLORIAS — performers Kathy Cogill, Nikki Heywood and Katia Molino. Bach’s monumental orchestral Brandenburg Concerti is reimagined by Kellaway for the two pianists, creating a theatrical whirlwind of sound, text and movement showcasing the Museum’s Stuart piano, and colliding with a loose interpretation of John Cassavetes’ 1980 film, Gloria. On Saturday 6 February, a public lecture will explore the notion of performance in terms of The opera Project, how it sits more generally in contemporary practice, and the challenges and process of GLORIAS. For more information, please visit maas.museum/whats-on
PHOTO BY MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
REBECCA EVANS – ASSISTANT CURATOR
Embroidered silk satin reticule (handbag), made and used in Sydney (about 1840). Owned and possibly made by Elizabeth Henrietta Halloran.
WHAT WE WEAR tells the world who we are or perhaps who we want to be. Identity is shaped through the consumption and wearing of dress, and in the 19th century it was central to the creation of colonial New South Wales. This is the subject of an upcoming display at MAAS, which will showcase our extensive collection of 19thcentury Australian fashion. Due to open in August 2016, the latest in the Recollect series will feature some of the most significant items of dress in the MAAS collection. This includes clothing that belonged to early colonial families such as the Marsdens and Johnstons, visual depictions of Indigenous people wearing British dress, a convict uniform from around 1855, a David Jones dress from the 1890s, photographs of Australian shearers, and decorative arts and scientific equipment from the period. In the 19th century, dress was used in Australia to exert authority, and negotiate and proclaim identity. People used it to conform, to adapt to the new and unknown, and establish a sense of place in colonial society. This reticule (or small handbag) is a beautiful example of a fashionable accessory from colonial New South Wales. It is made of silk satin and embellished in silk chiffon. Circular in shape, it is decorated with embroidered scrolling vines, leaves and flowers. It belonged to Elizabeth Henrietta Halloran (nee Underwood), and was made and used around 1840. The embroidered floral design and construction using silk satin fabric suggests that it is homemade, possibly by Elizabeth Henrietta or another woman. Elizabeth Henrietta was born on 14 August 1822 at 7–9 George Street, Sydney, Australia. She grew up in Ashfield Park (now Ashfield), which her Father Joseph Underwood had purchased and began to subdivide in 1817. She married Henry Halloran on 13 February 1841 at St Peter’s Anglican Church, Cooks
River (now St Peters). Due to the date of her marriage and of this reticule, it is likely it was made specifically as part of her trousseau. It was donated to the Museum by Jennifer Brookes, a direct descendant of Elizabeth Henrietta Halloran. Reticules were fashionable in the late 18th century and early 19th century and were used to carry small personal items or accessories and money. In October 1840 the Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser published a beautiful description of a reticule similar to Elizabeth Henrietta’s: ‘A very pretty style of reticule is formed of cashmere, a straw stone colour … with rich colored silk embroidery.’ We also know reticules were used in Sydney in the early 1840s because there were several recorded thefts. On 28 September 1841 The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser reported: ‘On Thursday night, a respectable female was stopped by two men, in Hyde Park, and relieved of her reticule, containing a one pound note.’ This reticule is one of only a few surviving examples of early colonial Australian fashionable accessories with known provenance. It shows that women made stylish accessories for themselves in colonial Sydney and that distance from Europe did not hinder colonial women’s ability to dress fashionably. 29
Stargazing world record APPARENTLY ABOUT 60,000 attempts are lodged for consideration each year with Guinness World Records but only a few are accepted. For the International Year of Light, Mt Stromlo Observatory and Questacon in Canberra set out to break the 2003 record for the most people in a single country stargazing across multiple sites. Sydney Observatory joined the challenge. During Science Week in August the entire Observatory site was carefully mapped so that stewards could monitor participants. The map and instructions were emailed ahead of time and each participant was provided with a small refractor telescope similar to the one used by Galileo. It was set to be a great family night under stars as long as the weather cooperated, but the weather turned bad on the day, staying cloudy until 15 minutes before the team at Mt Stromlo confirmed the attempt would proceed. At 8.41 pm the time ball tower gave a signal and the attempt began. The stewards
did their best to ensure as many people as possible watched the sky for 10 minutes without a break. This was quite difficult to achieve but everyone, including the large media contingent, made themselves comfortable and looked skyward. In what felt like the blink of an eye but was actually 10 minutes, another signal heralded the completion of the attempt. A cheer spread across the site and many people stayed to soak up the excitement. The success of the attempt was announced on 16 October. The ‘Most people stargazing across multiple sites’ involved 7960 people across 37 sites in Australia. This easily broke the old record of 3006 across 33 sites in Mexico. Congratulations to the 618 out of 646 verified stargazers that came to the Observatory and have now become world record holders and thanks to our independent observers and the GurkhaNepalese community of Sydney for providing stewards and hot food on the night.
PHOTO BY GEOFF WYATT, MAAS
GEOFF WYATT – EDUCATION PROGRAMS PRODUCER
Stargazing for 2016 The 2016 Australasian Sky Guide is available now. COMPACT, EASY TO use and reliable, this popular guide by well-known astronomer and author Dr Nick Lomb has been providing stargazers with everything they need to know about the southern night sky for the past 25 years. The 2016 guide contains monthly astronomy maps, viewing tips and highlights, and details of the year’s exciting celestial events. Highlights to look out for in 2016 are:
January: Venus near Saturn. The brightest planet in the sky and the ringed planet are one moonwidth apart. May: • Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower. One of the year’s best meteor showers is especially favourable this year as there is no interference from the Moon. • Mercury near Venus. The two innermost planets are in close conjunction. • Mars at opposition. The red planet Mars is at its brightest as it is exactly opposite the Sun to the Earth.
PHOTO BY PHIL HART
July: • Mercury near Venus. For the second time this year the two innermost planets are close to each other. August: • All five planets visible to the unaided eye can be seen in the evening sky. • Mars close to Antares. It is always a spectacle when the red planet passes by the bright red star in Scorpius. This time the ringed planet Saturn is nearby as well. • Venus close to Jupiter. The two brightest planets are separated by less than the width of the full Moon. (This page) The Southern Cross photographed in Bucklands Lane, Central Goldfields Shire, Victoria; (opposite) stargazers at Sydney Observatory during the world record attempt.
October: • Venus close to Saturn. For the second time this year the brightest planet in the sky appears close to the ringed planet. This time reddish star Antares is also close. November: • Mercury near Saturn. The elusive innermost planet passes by the ringed giant. The 2016 Australasian Sky Guide is published by Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Media (formerly Powerhouse Publishing). It is available from: MAAS Store, Sydney Observatory or online at maas.museum/store RRP $16.95 AUD
PHOTO BY LES DALRYMPLE
A protest against forgetting
PHOTO: MAAS COLLECTION
In this edited excerpt from a new publication, Evidence: Brook Andrew, Curator Contemporary Katie Dyer explores the different meanings and interpretations of evidence. BORN IN SYDNEY in 1970, Brook Andrew is an artist whose complex multidisciplinary process incorporates photography, installation, museum interventions, and public and interactive artworks. He creates meaning through harnessing artefacts and often uses contemporary interpretations of the traditional Wiradjuri language and motifs of his mother’s ancestors as an implicit critique of dominant power structures. It is this sustained engagement with polemics and questioning of received ideas that inspired MAAS to invite Andrew to mine its collection and archives to develop the major art installation Evidence: Brook Andrew in response to the exhibition Disobedient Objects organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.1 The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences launched the exhibition from the V&A simultaneously with Evidence. Focusing on the Australian experience, Andrew took the project in a very different direction to Disobedient Objects. However, both these projects attempt to bring to light objects that tell the story of social change, ingenuity in the face of resistance, and the struggle for rights and liberties. Some of these objects and the concepts they embody are now part of our everyday social fabric,2 while others remain provocative, uncomfortable and even subversive. Disobedient Objects and Evidence, while not the same, are certainly easy bedfellows. In weaving together unexpected and perhaps overlooked objects and materials from the MAAS collection with specially commissioned artworks, Evidence suggests different and less homogenised ways of interpreting objects and their histories. Evidence has varied meanings, including ‘the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid’ or ‘information given personally, drawn from a document, or in the form of material objects’ and the slightly more intangible ‘signs’ or ‘indications’.3 Playing with these notions of evidence as document, testimony and physical object in the pursuit of truth and proof, Andrew retains his interest in ambiguity — the known and unknown, the visible and invisible. Andrew’s practice is purposely ambiguous as the artist has an implied institutional critique, but it also employs the traditional solid ground of connoisseurship and its accompanying mythologies; that is, proximity, provenance, condition and aura.4 His interest in selecting, editing, arranging and re-presenting archives, objects and images borrows from museum methodologies that can be traced back to the arrangers of Renaissance Wunderkammern (cabinets of curiosities). But in fact, this kind of art practice is more firmly grounded in the development of conceptual art in the 1960s. Conceptualism challenged ‘the idea of art as the production of material objects’. This is not to say that Andrew’s work is purely conceptual — indeed it is emotionally compelling and reliant on high production values — but rather to recognise the definition of what constitutes an artwork. The adoption of other research and professional methodologies (curatorial
(Previous page) Aboriginal people in European dress, glass plate negative (about 1890); (opposite, top) Evidence: Brook Andrew (2015), installation view; (bottom) silver epergne (about 1880).
and museological in this case) and institutional critique are outcomes of opening up the field of art. The library, the archive, the collection, the laboratory have become essential to contemporary art production and there are many examples of Australian and international artists employing these strategies.5 Andrew is deeply invested in what French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard called the end of ‘master narratives’ and the rise of ‘new knowledge protocols’.6 Lyotard was part of a group of theorists emerging from 1960s Europe whose common aim has been the decolonisation of just about everything administered by a white, straight, Western hierarchy.7 They have irrevocably changed how we describe, understand and participate in social formations. These changes ignited in the 1960s had a profound effect on thinking and the making of art in subsequent decades that also found inspiration in non-Eurocentric thinkers, identity politics and post-colonial theory.8 Brook Andrew has said of his work: In the mid-1990s many Aboriginal people, like myself, were looking to subvert these past representations and create positive outcomes even though we were still working out protocols in relation to different kinds of representation and circumstances.9 By inviting Brook Andrew to work with the MAAS collection and develop a new body of work, the Museum has given the artist licence to ignore the sense of neutrality usually adopted for museum displays. His process is intuitive and relies on a sense of perception and personal meaning from which curatorial staff are usually discouraged. People have tended to perceive museums as embodying an ‘official story’. Andrew’s investigations and repurposing of material is a form of subversion from the inside — that is, borrowing all the perceived institutional structural and economic power and turning it on its head. The potency in his work is that the force is equal to the search. His process has involved collating objects as seemingly unconnected and disparate as a 1960s electronic analog computer; a statuette from about 1855 of an Aboriginal man known as ‘Ricketty Dick’; a magic lantern projector made in Scotland about 1895–1905; a Victorian porcelain toilet bowl, dated 1880–1890; provision opium (purchased in 1888); an Aboriginal carved tree (no date recorded) that came into the collection in 1923; and numerous breastplates or ‘King’ plates from the early to mid-19th century. These objects are positioned alongside poignant documents such as the Aborigines Protection Board Annual Report, 1887, and a series of vexed images of Aboriginal people from the 19th century whose circumstances we can only imagine — the subjects were most likely coerced and are unlikely to have granted permission to be photographed, but still the images read as seductive and intriguing. It seems Andrew is compelled intentionally or otherwise to approach each major work, commission or exhibition with an attempt to invent a new rule for the game. As Judith Ryan, Senior Curator of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, has said of his work, ‘It’s never black and white. It’s never good/evil. It’s always a kind of way to enter discussions through multiple points.’10 Evidence: Brook Andrew is published by Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Media, available from MAAS Store or online at maas.museum/store
1. Disobedient Objects is co-curated by Catherine Flood and Gavin Grindon and was on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 26 July 2014 – 1 February 2015. It is currently on display at the Powerhouse Museum until 14 February 2016.
PHOTOS BY (TOP) CHRISTIAN CAPURRO; (BOTTOM) MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
2. For example, the Fitpack syringe container and surgical table used for abortions. 3. The New Oxford Dictionary of English, Oxford University Press, 1998. 4. Tom McDonough, ‘Questionnaire on the “Contemporary”’, October, vol 30, Fall 2009, pp 122–224. 5. Christian Boltanksi, Jenny Holzer, Kara Walker and Fred Wilson are a few international examples, while Daniel Boyd, Janet Lawrence and Luke Roberts are a small selection of Australian artists working in this way. 6. John R Leo, ‘Postmodernity, narratives, sexual politics: reflections on Jean-Francois Lyotard’, The Centennial Review, vol 32, no 4, Fall 1988, Michigan State University Press, pp 336–50. 7. For example, Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Hélène Cixous, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Julia Kristeva. 8. For example, Franz Fanon, Edward Said and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. 9. Laura Murray Cree, ‘Brook Andrew’, Artist Profile, issue 11, 2010, p 55. 10. Message Stick, ABC Television, 14 November 2004, abc.net.au/tv/messagestick/stories/s1242475.htm, accessed 20 May 2015.
1 Million Stars to End Violence
I STARTED THE 1 Million Stars to End Violence Project with three things I really love and am passionate about — weaving, art and culture — to bring people together to do something good and beautiful. What began as a very personal response to a local tragedy is growing into something massive and reaching into people’s hearts. The project started on the steps of our church, Brunswick Baptist on Sydney Road, in 2012. The courtyard was transformed into a sea of flowers and candles for a woman named Jill Meagher, who was raped and murdered around the corner. People from all over Victoria came to our steps to remember, and ask ‘why?’ and ‘how could this happen?’ Some expressed anger, ‘why all of this for Jill and not the women before her?’ Some were angry at themselves for not being able to help when they were home, only a few doors from where Jill was murdered. Many blamed the police and authorities for letting her killer out and there were those who wanted him dead for what he did. I’ve never seen anything like it — people gathering, grieving and reaching out. Strangers talking
to each other, holding each other, wailing without shame, as if this was normal. Yet, despite witnessing all this grief, and it was unbearable sometimes, I remember thinking, this is human nature at its best. We can be loving, generous and peaceful. We can love those we do not know, without fear or shame, because we do not want to experience this kind of grief ever again. And then I saw some words by Dr Martin Luther King Junior, which someone had placed in the sea of flowers: ‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’ These profound words had a huge impact on me and are the heart of this epic project. I ran up to my studio, grabbed some ribbon and started weaving. When I could not find the words, my hands and heart felt like weaving. I decided to weave stars as a way to bring more light into the world and as a reminder we need navigating stars to help us to hold onto hope and courage to
PHOTOS BY MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
Maryann Talia Pau explains how weaving can help to end violence.
‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’ – Dr Martin Luther King Junior
Maryann Talia Pau leading a workshop with MAAS staff and volunteers.
end violence in our communities, including violence against women. I was so moved by Dr King’s words I wanted to share them! I posted on Facebook to invite people to help me weave 1 million stars, as symbols of courage to end violence; to be light and love in the world, when we know there is so much suffering and hate. This humble project has now taken over my life in a powerful way. I run free star weaving workshops throughout Australia. I’m asking people to help weave 1 million stars to be part of a stellar installation in Queensland in 2018. I have no idea where we will display them, but I am trusting it will be somewhere fabulous. Every woven star is important, no matter how small, what it’s made from, or whether or not it has eight points. What matters is that we have a go and contribute. Ending violence cannot be the work of one person or one organisation. This conversation of safety and peace belongs to us all and we can all contribute to this vision. The 1 Million Stars project is about keeping these conversations alive and meaningful. It’s
also about making something beautiful and stunning together. When there are no words to express our despair, when we feel paralysed by the enormity and complexity of it all, we can weave stars. Weaving stars helps to remind us that our individual efforts matter and that when they are focused into a bigger vision of love, hope and peace, the result is stunning and powerful. Weaving stars transcends language, abilities, age, gender and economics. This is the gift of this project. You don’t have to be a master weaver or an artist to participate. Everyone is welcome to weave stars because we all need support and courage to make safe communities. My goal is to run as many workshops as I can across Australia and overseas and share the story of how weaving these eightpointed stars can bring so much joy, healing and therapy to everyone. Visitors to the Powerhouse can weave their own star in the activity area of Disobedient Objects until February 2016. *Edited extract, Maryann Talia Pau, ‘1 Million Stars to End Violence’, onemillionstars.net, 2012.
Million Dollar Mermaid
Stunning costumes from the Museum’s collection will feature in an exhibition about a forgotten Australian superstar.
BORN IN SYDNEY, Annette Kellerman (1886–1975) found international fame as a highly paid entertainer of the vaudeville stage and a star of American silent films. An outstanding athlete, she first attracted attention with a series of epic, long-distance swims. At a time when female bathers were expected to wear several cumbersome garments, she advocated a practical onepiece swimsuit. In her books and lectures she encouraged women to enjoy swimming and to exercise for health, fitness and beauty. In films such as Neptune’s Daughter (1914) she played a bold, fearless heroine and performed dangerous stunts. Esther Williams portrayed Annette Kellerman in MGM’s spectacular film, Million Dollar Mermaid (1952). The exhibition is scheduled to open in May 2016.
PHOTO COURTESY STATE LIBRARY OF NSW, MLMSS6270
Annette Kellerman styled herself as a mermaid in her films and live performances. Billed as ‘The Perfect Woman, ‘The Diving Venus’ and ‘The Australian Mermaid’, she would dive into a glass tank and perform underwater ballet on stage, with a large cast of supporting mermaids.
PHOTO BY MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
PHOTO BY DOMINIQUE CHERRY
PHOTO BY MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
1. Artist Carrie Reichardt with her creation the Tiki Love Truck in Disobedient Objects. 2. The Hon. Troy Grant MP, Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts and Nathan Sawaya, the artist who created The Art of the Brick: DC Comics, with Rose Hiscock at the opening. 3. (From left) Chikka Madden (Redfern Elder), Lydia Miller (Australia Council for the Arts), artist Brook Andrew and Wesley Enoch (Sydney Festival) at the launch of Evidence. 4. Glynis Traill-Nash (left) in conversation with Carla Zampatti (right) at the Powerhouse. 5. (From left) Fashion designers Luke Sales, Linda Jackson, Jenny Kee and Anna Plunkett at their Sydney Design in-conversation event. 6. (From left) Rose Hiscock, Dolla Merrillees and Edwina McCann (Vogue editor).
8. Performance artist Justin Shoulder (left) with Matthew Mitcham (Australian Olympian). 9. Kellie Hush (Harpers Bazaar editor). 10. Ian Thorpe (Australian Olympian).
PHOTO BY ANNA KUCERA
7. The Hon. Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister (foreground), and Collette Dinnigan (background).
PHOTO BY MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
PHOTO BY RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS
PHOTO BY ROGER LEONG, MAAS
7 PHOTO BY MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
PHOTO BY MARINCO KOJDANOVSKI, MAAS
PHOTO BY DOMINIQUE CHERRY
Meet Virginia Mitchell MUSEUMS DISCOVERY CENTRE MANAGER
Tell us about your role as Discovery Centre Manager. My role is to oversee the site, which is a shared storage facility for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums. I work with teams from each of these museums to provide access to their diverse collections. We have built a new 9000m2 display store that will provide storage for current collection items and cater to each museum’s future storage needs. A big part of my role before we open in 2016 is to consult with the exhibition designers and curators to determine how best to store and display their objects. 42
How is the Museums Discovery Centre different? It’s a ‘visible display store’. Only a very small percentage of any museum collection, anywhere in the world, is on display at any given time. Our state collections are so extensive it would be impossible for visitors to any of NSW’s major museums and galleries to ever see the full extent of their collections in their lifetime! Visible storage enables visitors to go into storerooms and warehouses to see the huge array of things that museums hold, while providing ideal conditions for the objects. There is no clear path or narrative. We don’t provide extensive information, and objects are not always mounted or presented as they are in an exhibition. Visitors will see things in crates, on pallets and crowded onto shelves. What are the challenges to creating a facility to house three different collections? Bringing very busy people together to plan it all is a challenge in itself, but the core challenge is recognising, documenting
and accommodating the particular needs of vastly different collections and then resolving practical issues. Can we keep beetles in the same environment as a printing press? How do we fit a massive totem pole into this building? Where will the locomotive and the double decker bus fit? What do you enjoy most about your job? Working with beautiful and unusual objects makes me deliriously happy. But I really also enjoy balancing the creative aspect of this project with the practical — keeping to budget, keeping to schedule, and resolving practical problems while producing an engaging and aesthetically pleasing experience for our visitors. What is your favourite or weirdest object? There are so many wonderful objects in the stores it’s hard to choose. My favourite at the moment is a broom-making machine! The weirdest is a very large rock in a crate. It’s just labelled: ‘Rock Crate’. Come and see for yourself when the Centre opens in 2016.
PHOTO BY RYAN HERNANDEZ, MAAS
What is your background and how did you come to work for the Museum? I’m an art historian trained in art education and museum practice. I’ve worked in curatorial, education and management roles in regional galleries and arts agencies, and as a consultant for the National Maritime Museum and the University of Canberra. I was previously Head of Public Programs and Education for the Biennale of Sydney.
Roman oil lamp (about 200CE). Gift of Mrs A C Blaydes, 1950
FROM THE COLLECTION
PHOTO BY SOTHA BOURN, MAAS
Roman oil lamp
HARNESSING FIRE TO make light was one of the most significant steps in the history of human invention. This earthenware oil lamp, cast from a worn mould, dates from the late Roman period. Ceramic lamps were mass-produced in specialist pottery workshops throughout the Roman Empire. The fall of the empire coincided with an increase in the use of wax or tallow candles, although these were expensive and artificial light was not widely used again in Europe until modern lighting systems were invented. This lamp is on display at the Powerhouse Museum to mark the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (2015) — a global initiative of the United Nations to promote awareness of the ways optical technologies can ‘help resolve worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health’. light2015.org
The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences gratefully acknowledges the support of Media partners
Preferred hotel partner
Preferred wine partner
The Museum thanks the following recent donors for their generous contribution: Governor ($50,000+) The Labshare Institute President’s Circle ($10,000–$49,000) Dick Smith AC Leader ($5000–$9999) Robert Cameron AO Lisa Chung Dr Gene Sherman AM R C Swieca and J M Robinson Custodian ($1000–$4999) Robert Albert AO Bambi Blumberg William Chapman James Emmett Rose Hiscock Diana Houstone Juliet Lockhart James Longley
Samantha Meers Elizabeth Pakchung Louise Taggart and Peter Homel Vera Vargassoff Investor ($500–$999) Eugenia Langley Ross McNair Joanne Ritchie Supporter ($2–$499) Belinda Allen Dr Stephen Barratt Douglas Berry Brigitte Braun Anthony Buckley AM David Calmyre Judith Campbell JE Carlson Suzanne Chee John Clancy Sandra Cord
Jack Cridland Capt. Murray Doyle AAM Kym Ellery Suzanne Fitzhardinge Steven Franks Dr John Gambrill Ron Hume John Jones Ruth Kerr Kris Leveson Nikita Majaja Judith Marish Margaret Mashford Leann Meiers Patricia M Michell David Mist George Mott Geoffrey Murphy Dr James Nielsen Kevin Parker Victor Phillips ADFAS Pokolbin Simon Poole
MAAS Magazine is produced by the Production team of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Editors: Jo Lyons, Melita Rogowsky Design: Filip Bartkowiak, Lucy McGinley, James Marquet Photography: MAAS unless otherwise stated.
The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences incorporates:
Every effort has been made to locate owners of copyright for the images in this publication. Any inquiries should be directed to the Rights and Permissions Officer, Powerhouse Museum.
Sydney Observatory 1003 Upper Fort Street, Millers Point Telephone (02) 9921 3485 maas.museum/sydney-observatory
ISSN 1030-5750 © Trustees of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences ISSUE 117 SUMMER 2015
Powerhouse Museum 500 Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney Telephone (02) 9217 0111 Education (02) 9217 0222 maas.museum/powerhouse-museum
Museums Discovery Centre 172 Showground Road, Castle Hill Telephone (02) 9762 1300 Closed for redevelopment maas.museum/discovery-centre
Robin Prowse Martina Ripping John Roberts Joyce Roy Sabina Rubens Drs Adam and Orysia Sandry Emine Sermet Victor Solomons Margaret Stevenson Elizabeth Stratford Ann Sutherland Annalise Thomas Peter Underwood Ruleen Vaughan Jeffery Walker James White Justice Peter Young AO Lu Zhao and all those who have asked to remain anonymous
The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences is an executive agency of the NSW Government. For more information on sponsorship opportunities and giving please call (02) 9217 0393
Hello from the MAAS Members team THANK YOU FOR your ongoing support in 2015, a year that saw significant changes for the Museum. We hosted some memorable events and tours for our members and weâ€™re planning more in 2016. Here are some highlights from the past 12 months.
Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced
THE LAUNCH OF this exhibition was a glittering night attended by notables from Sydney’s fashion industry. Lucky member Kerri Goldspink won our member competition and enjoyed the fun with her friend Larissa Ianni. There was also an exclusive member tour with MAAS Curator Glynis Jones (left). Glynis shared her insights into the process of working with Collette to create this major exhibition. Members were treated to in-depth background and some fun anecdotes from behind the scenes.
(Above) Lucky winner Kerri Goldspink and her friend Larissa Ianni.
Basement tours IT’S NOT VERY often we open up our vast collection in the basement. In 2015 these tours were a popular addition for members. Highlights included Rock ’n’ Roll with Peter Cox, Childbirth and Contraception with Damian McDonald (right) and Explorers with Margaret Simpson.
The Wiggles WE ALWAYS KNEW this one would be popular! Nearly 600 members attended our free concert in September. Emma and The Wiggles put on a delightful performance for our littlest members â€” the looks on these faces say it all.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY STEWART WALTON
HAVE YOU VISITED the Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced exhibition yet? Spark up your fashion imagination! Draw clothes on these mannequins and be a designer like Collette.
The Art of the Brick: DC Comics is our summer exhibition! Turn the page to colour in your favourite Super Heroes and see how they compare when you visit the exhibition.
The Art of the Brick preview ON THURSDAY 21 November we hosted a special preview of our summer exhibition The Art of the Brick: DC Comics. Members enjoyed fairy floss, popcorn and LEGO® building activities before entering the exhibition. Nathan Sawaya’s creations turn DC Comics Super Heroes and Super-Villains into impressive contemporary art pieces, using hundreds of thousands of bricks. The exhibition runs until 1 May 2016 — don’t miss it!
Members enjoying a sneak preview of The Art of the Brick: DC Comics.
Are you taking advantage of the full range of benefits associated with your membership? • Family and Dual — two adults can attend as part of these memberships, either the two named on the card, or one named plus a guest • Free entry to MAAS (Powerhouse, Sydney Observatory, and from mid-2016 Museums Discovery Centre at Castle Hill) • Exclusive access to events including exhibition previews, curator briefings and tours • MAAS Magazine, twice yearly • Discount entry to 3D Space Theatre and night viewings at Sydney Observatory • Exclusive access to the Members Lounge at the Powerhouse with complimentary refreshments • Reciprocal benefits with galleries and museums across Australia* • Members-only express entry • 10% discount at MAAS Store and Café • Discount parking offers.
Correct at time of print; for up-to-date details, please see our Member email or visit the Member section of our website at maas.museum/members/ *Reciprocal benefits include various membership and entry discounts to organisations including the National Trust of Australia, Wollongong Science Centre (NSW); Immigration Museum, Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks (Vic); National Museum of Australia, Questacon, National Library of Australia, National Gallery of Australia (ACT); Queensland Sciencentre (Qld); Scitech Discovery Centre (WA); and the Te Papa National Museum (NZ). Please visit maas.museum/members/reciprocal-benefits/ to see the terms and conditions of discounts for each of our partners.
Whether you’re into sport, music, food and wine, or action, you’ll find many exciting events for all ages, in amazing locations throughout Regional NSW. TAMWORTH
PORT STEPHENS 4
Tamworth Country Music Festival
Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour
Orange F.O.O.D Week
Sail Port Stephens
15 – 24 January, 2016
5 – 7 February, 2016
8 – 17 April, 2016
11 – 17 April, 2016
Australia’s largest music festival offers plenty of fun for all.
An international endurance race at the home of Australian motorsport.
Experience the region’s best food and wine in a festival atmosphere.
A week long, family friendly regatta held on the stunning waters of Port Stephens.
Mount Panorama, Bathurst
If it’s on in NSW, it’s on visitnsw.com Please note that events are subject to change or cancellation (check relevant website for further details prior to the event). Destination NSW acknowledges and appreciates all photographic images supplied by each event owner for use in this advertisement.
The Art of the Brick: DC Comics Babbage archive discovery Romance was born interview Interpreting Evidence