Ruth Lane-Poole – A woman of influence at Canberra Museum and Gallery

Photo of one of Ruth’s watercolours illustrating the range of her creative skills

I love the role of curators. This weekend saw the opening of an exhibition devoted to arguably Australia’s first career interior designer – Ruth Lane-Poole. The display is at CMAG because the biggest and most significant contributions she made to Canberra was to design the interiors of the two grand residences of the captial in the 1920s, Government House and the Lodge.

The curator, Margaret Betteridge has pulled together a gorgeous collection of related artefacts to tell the story of two significant buildings set in an era and intertwined with the story of a creative, courageous woman. Lane-Poole was emerging from a creative family to influence the visual elements of interior design in her generation and in many ways each decade since. Betteridge has told the complex tale effectively.

This show has lots of what I love in exhibitions. The artefacts range from a garland with fabric flowers used in Lane-Poole’s wedding through to a two metre carved timber table. The story is fascinating, the layout is easy to following and the intertwining of history with the personal lives of the participants is engaging.

The exhibition is on till Saturday 2nd October 2021

Details on website

Love is – Australian wedding fashion @ Powerhouse Museum Sydney

Until 22 April 2018

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney does a fabulous job of focusing on design. This exhibition gives a charming insight into the changes in design and thinking about the clothing worn as people go through wedding ceremonies in Australia over the last couple of centuries.

One entry walks you through the early European examples of wedding dresses. They are generally full length and pale in colour but there are strong colours present. The fascinating overlay is the indigenous music playing in the background.

The rest of the exhibition walks you through lots of sumptuously created clothing which culminates in a display of examples of wedding clothes inspired by several cultures represented within the Australian community. I loved one that was made in the colours of the Aboriginal flag.

Pics below give a partial insight into the riches on display.

On the streets where you live – Stephanie Jones @ Canberra Contemporary Arts Space – City

1 June – 1 July 2017

Stephanie Jones has a gorgeous exhibition on at the city gallery of the Canberra Contemporary Arts Space. Her works are inspired by decorative suburban wrought iron and streets. Most of the images are reproductions of simple iron patterns with the patterns backgounded with pastel colours. There is another image that I love in which she has worked a set of suburban streets with the same colouration of the wrought iron sets.

Below are a set of images and some gallery materials.

Beauties and Beasts @ Belconnen Arts Centre

6-28 May 2017

This is the 22nd annual exhibition of the University of Canberra design Faculty of Arts and Design. The researchers are addressing the theme of Beauties and Beasts. Beauties and Beasts harnesses the power of creative practice to represent what is beautiful and/or beastly about our relationship with the natural world: the exhibition will explore these ideas in a range of arts and written media. 



Reclaim @ Craft ACT

3 Nov – 17 Dec 2016

The gang at CraftACT curate awesome exhibitions. The current one is a spectacular display of creativity around reusing of materials for great artworks. I love it and I love the fact that the gallery sheet is full of explanation of the artworks and what was used in making the objects.

Gallery web page and pics below

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The Uniform Project @ Craft ACT

3 Nov – 17 Dec 2016

One of the current exhibitions at the galleries of CraftACT in Civic is called The Uniform Project. It consists largely of a small set of beautiful blazer type coats designed with geometric layouts and strong colours. Each of them are beautiful and would be a great improvement on most uniforms you see today.

Gallery page

Sample pics

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Hand and Heart Shall Never Part The Fashion Collaboration of Linda Jackson and David McDiarmid @ Wollongong Art Gallery

24 Sept – 12 Feb 2016

Linda Jackson and David McDiarmid were creators of fabulous fabrics and clothing for two decades. There is a beautifully mounted exhibition of their designs in the Wollongong Art Gallery. The website blurb reads

Between 1975 and 1994 two friends – artist, designer and gay activist David McDiarmid and acclaimed fashion designer Linda Jackson – collaborated on Linda Jackson’s designs for Jenny Kee’s Flamingo Park boutique, in Sydney, and later Linda’s ‘Bush Couture’ label. Curated by cultural historian Dr Sally Gray, the exhibition will trace the ideas and working methods that inspired this fashion collaboration.

The fabrics are delicate the shapes are fluid and the colours are vibrant. The exhibition is mounted behind glass and all the way through it I wanted to reach out and touch the fabrics. I have included several pictures below to show the beauty of what they created.

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Planting Dreams: Grand Garden Designs @ State Library of NSW

3 September 2016 – 15 January 2017

This is an exhibition of otherness for me. Gardening is not my thing. However I have always had a sense of awe at well designed outdoor spaces. As a parallel to the historical exhibition next door the State Library of NSW has an exhibition of contemporary, beautifully designed and executed gardens.

Some of these gardens are small geometric and highly structured. Others are more rambling and follow more free form look. As I looked through the large format photographs and back lit screens I concluded that none of these gardens were low maintenance.

The gardens have a beauty in the way they combine landscape, buildings and plants of various kinds shapes sizes colours. While not into this I love the creativity and devotion people put into this type of activity.

Pics and web page below

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Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens @ State Library of NSW

3 September 2016 – 15 January 2017

The State Library has huge resources when it mounts historical exhibitions. Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens takes a look at the practices that Europeans have developed in forming gardens in Australia over the last couple of centuries. True to form the State library has mined the archives and produced fabulous books, illustrations, photographs and objects of interests from a dominant field of social activity. I am not much of a gardener but have been surrounded by people who are wonderfully creative in the work they do in their gardens.

Hours can go by in an exhibition like this because the objects are always so well supported bu well written text on the walls and in the display cases. I have included below a selection of pictures but I am sure a complete recording of it would take over 1,000.

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Repeat – Exhibition of Print Pattern and Textiles @ Megalo Studio and Gallery

Print studios develop lots of product. The gallery at Megalo shows lots of varieties of print making techniques and forms of expression on many media. It is not often that the gallery is filled with fabric.but this time it is a beautiful set of long hangings and smaller examples of how themes can be represented in repeated patterns and with use of striking colours.

Some of the themes are fairly abstract such as, Jemima Parker’ Brick. Others are much more exact and precise such as Estelle ‘Breideis’ Bridges. We were intrigued by another Estelle Breidis one titled Pentagon. We could see lots of other geometric shapes but nothing five sided. Every piece in this exhibition is strikingly attractive.

See sample pics and gallery material below.

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