Fabric of Australiana

It’s great to have a centenary of something, anything really. Brings in dollars to create lovely publications like the one accompanying the Federation of Australia exhibition.

Called “Federation: Australian Art and Society 1901-2001”. They gathered together a multitude of images to explain who we are.

Although only three pieces of textile art were chosen to represent 100 years.

Quirky Rita Hall with her very large blow flies and Drysdale with his desolate trees stumps. A hint of things to come in curtain fabric design of the 1950s.

| Russell Drysdale, Tree Forms, 1946, Rita Hall, Blow Fly, 1979, Peter Stripes Fabrics, Gumnut babies, 1979 |

No mention of the questionable textiles produced to celebrate all things Olympic in 1956.

Nance MacKenzie from Annan Fabrics produced these placemats placing the art of our indigenous cultures into a domestic environment for the tourists. Sure makes me uncomfortable but at the time everyone was using aboriginal designs. Have a look at John Rodriquez as an example.


| Annan Fabrics, Placemats, 1956 |

And this curtain design for Qantas.

Home Beautiful magazine said Australians preferred the simplicity of these designs as they were suspicious of anything arty. Another oh dear moment for me.

By the way, Peter Stripes Fabrics who produced the Gumnut fabric in the Federation exhibition was taken to the Federal Court of Australia in 1983 for the unauthorised use of a Yangarriny Wunungmurra painting.

Julia Ritson

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