Saturday, January 17, 2015

Some Wearable Art@The Powerhouse Museum
Wearable Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney (Australia) sits on the western fringe of the CBD in Sydney. It was created around the shell of an old power station. It opened its doors to the public in 1988.

Fa├žade of the Powerhouse Museum.

Its collection is wide in scope, inheriting it’s ~100 year-old collection from its predecessor – the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Its on-going addition to its collection has given it a unique documentation of Australian social history – spanning such diverse areas as medical technology to information technology to aviation to dress to textiles to lace etc. The underlying motivation for the collection is to build a pathway from primary to secondary to tertiary processes that create artefacts and so map the web of interconnections of social development that highlights the evolutionary trajectory of the Australian society within the international framework in which it resides.

It houses one of the best collections of Wearable Art in Australia. In doing so it not only documents Australia’s European origins from its colonial past to its multi-cultural independent present, but also the globalization of trade, the development of fiber and fabric, the development of paints and dyes, the evolution of custumes and fashion, the changes in ethics and morality, the changes in opportunities for women to develop much larger roles within the Australia society. Wearable art can inform us so much about our social “place” and about our social “headspace”.

Here is just a glimpse of the Wearable Art in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum. It has been gleaned from the publication – Decorative Arts And Design From The Powerhouse Museum, Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney (1991).

Some Wearable Art @ The Powerhouse Museum
The first curator of its predecessor J.H. Maiden (1881-1998) proceeded to assemble a collection with the intention:
“…to collect together typical collections of all materials of economic value belonging to the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms from raw material through the various stages of manufacture to the final product or finished articles ready for use.” (1880).

Its current statement of purpose has been redefined to:
“To discover and be inspired by human ingenuity
. We conceive exhibitions and programs around the primary theme of “human ingenuity”
. We base our exhibitions and programs on the ideas and technologies that have changed our world, and the stories of the people who create and inspire them. The Museum’s unique collection informs these experiences.”

Wearable art fits neatly into this modern statement of purpose as well as in the original motivation in trying to form a collection in the first place.

Open Robe (Gown, Stomacher and Petticoat).
Maker: Unknown. Made in England, 1760.
Material: Silk and metallic-thread brocade with an applied border of metallic-thread bobbin lace.
Size: 165 cm (height).

Pair Of Shoes.
Maker: Unknown. Probably made in England, 1700s.
Material: Gosgrain silk, decorated with applied braid in a Chinoiserie style. Painted toe, decorated buckle and a waisted heel.
Size: 11 cm (height) x 8 cm (width) x 21 cm (length).

Suit and Sack Gown (Robe, Stomacher and Petticoat).
Maker: Unknown. Made in France, 1770 - 1775.
Material: Silk.
Size: Gown – 120 cm (height); Coat – 106 cm (height); Breeches – 70 cm (height); Waistcoat – 79 cm (height).

Early Colonial Costume.
Maker: Unknown.
Materials: Pelisse (left) probably made in England about 1815; Pelisse (centre) probably made in Australia 1815. Gown (right) Sydney about 1822 silk pelisses, muslin gown with silk petticoat.
Size: 121-130 cm (height).

Day Dress.
Maker: Unknown. Probably made in England, about 1831.
Material: Printed cotton – huge gigot sleeves balanced by large hats and a full skirt below a tiny waist.
Size: 116 cm (height).

Day Dress.
Maker: Unknown. Probably made in England about 1865.
Material: Silk with ribbon trim (reproduction undersleeves and collar) – the crinoline, a lightweight dress support made from circles of sprung steel.
Size: 156 cm (height).

Maker: Unknown. Made in Osaka, Japan, 1880s.
Material: Silk, silk wadding, gold metallic thread, yuzen resist dyed, painted and embroidered.
Size: 173 cm (height) x 125.5 cm (width).

Day Dress.
Maker: David Jones & Co. Sydney. Made in Australia, about 1895.
Material: Silk brocade.
Size: 155 cm (height).

Evening Dress.
Maker: Liberty & Co. Made in England, about 1911.
Material: Silk.
Size: 165 cm (height).

Beaded Red Stiletto Shoes.
Maker: Salavatore Ferragamo (1898-1960). Made in Florence, Italy, about 1959.
Material: Satin.
Size: 114 cm (height) x 7.3 cm (width) x 25.5 cm (length).

Cocktail Dress.
Maker: Jacques Fath. Made in USA, about 1950s.
Material: Silk.
Size: 116 cm (height).

Dress And Coat.
Maker: Andre Courreges. Made in Paris, France, about 1965.
Material: Wool double cloth and leather; cap made by Frederick Waters, Australia, about 1983.
Size: 88 cm (height).

Designer: Prue Acton. Made in Melbourne, Australia, 1967.
Material: Cellulose Diacetate; fabric by Silk and Textile Printers Ltd.
Size: 162 cm (height).

Opera House.
Designer: Jenny Kee. Made in Sydney, Australia, 1980.
Material: Cotton; knitted by Jan Ayres.
Size: 92 cm (height).

Mary Don’t Ask.
Designer: Peter Tully, Sydney, Australia, 1984.
Material: Plastics, vinyl, and found objects.

Evening Dress (Bodice, skirt, and overskirt over hoops).
Designer: Zandra Rhodes. Made in England, 1982.
Material: Polyamide, polyester and lame.
Size: 163 cm (height).

Purple Bush (Dress, Coat, Turban, Belt and Necklace).
Designer: Linda Jackson. Made in Sydney, Australia, 1986.
Material: Silk taffeta, screen printed, gum leaves.
Size: 168 cm (height).

Woman’s Ensemble (Dress, shoes and tights).
Designer: Rei Kawakubo. Made by Comme des Garcons Co, Ltd. Japan. 1987-88 Autumn –Winter Collection.
Material: Vinyl chloride, and cotton.
Size: 99 cm (height) x 44 cm (width).

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