Powerhouse opens with five new exhibitions, Green, October 2021
The Powerhouse has today announced it will reopen on Monday 11 October 2021, with five new exhibitions unveiled. Spanning photography, design, music, ceramics and applied arts, the exhibitions showcase the Powerhouse’s world-class collection alongside new artist commissions.
Opening exhibitions include Eucalyptusdom, a major exhibition reckoning with our cultural history and ever-changing relationship with the gum tree. The exhibition presents over 400 objects from the Powerhouse Collection alongside 17 newly commissioned works by creative practitioners working across the fields of design, architecture, film, applied arts and performance. Taking its title from a 1930s text by Edward F Swain, one of Australia’s earliest conservationists, Eucalyptusdom also reveals the Powerhouse Museum’s unique and longstanding relationship with the eucalypt.
Robert Rosen: Glitterati, the largest survey of the work of one of Australia’s foremost fashion and social photographers, will traverse Rosen’s expansive back catalogue documenting four decades of glittering parties, concerts, fashion events and nightclubs across Australia, London and Europe.
Electric Keys will survey the journey of electric keyboards and the instrument’s contribution to music, presenting mechanical instruments dating from the 17th Century alongside the Museum’s recently-acquired collection of mid-20th century models and a collection of significant synthesisers.
Graphic Identities will present work by eight celebrated 20th century designers including Gordon Andrews, Douglas Annand and Frances Burke, charting pivotal moments in the history of Australian design and exploring the role of visual communication in shaping Australia’s cultural identity.
Clay Dynasty will chart 50 years of studio ceramic practice in Australia with over 400 works from 160 Australian artists. The exhibition will be the first to open in the Museum’s reimagined Turbine Hall.
Lisa Havilah, Powerhouse Chief Executive said: “The Powerhouse is thrilled to be able to welcome visitors back to the museum. To celebrate this moment, we will be unveiling five new exhibitions, the first step in the vision for a reimagined Powerhouse.”
Eucalyptusdom reckons with our cultural history and ever-changing relationship with the gum tree, from the relationship between eucalypts and Indigenous Australians, the significance of the Federation arts and crafts movement to the human impact on the eucalypt today. The exhibition also reveals the Powerhouse Museum’s unique and longstanding relationship with the eucalypt.
Eucalyptusdom presents over 400 objects from the Powerhouse Collection alongside 17 newly commissioned works by creative practitioners working across the fields of design, architecture, film, applied arts and performance. Artists presenting new work include Nicole Barakat and the Rohingya Women’s Development Organisation, Dean Cross, Julie Gough, First Nations Fashion and Design, Ashley Hay, Vera Hong, Jonathan Jones and Dr Uncle Stan Grant Snr AM, Nicholas Mangan, Anna May Kirk, Luna Mrozik-Gawler, Jazz Money, Lucy Simpson, Yasmin Smith, Wukun Wanambi, Sera Waters, Damien Wright and Bonhula Yunupingu and Justine Youssef. The exhibition has been designed collaboratively by Australian architect Richard Leplastrier AO, SJB architects, Jack Gillmer and Adam Haddow, and Vania Contreras, with an accompanying soundscape composed by Jane Sheldon and lighting design by Nick Schlieper.
Robert Rosen: Glitterati
Over four decades, Robert Rosen attended glittering parties, concerts, fashion events and nightclubs across Australia, London and Europe, capturing the rich, famous and fabulous for the fashion and social pages of an array of newspapers and magazines. Defying the perceived image of the pushy, intrusive paparazzi, his polite and discrete approach earned him the respect and trust of his subjects. Carrying two or three cameras around his neck, with a glass of champagne in hand, he became a fixture in the social scene and captured intimate portraits that conveyed the mood and energy of the times.
Glitterati will present over 300 photographs and will include images from Rosen’s early career in London and Paris capturing the fashion shows of iconic designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Claude Montana and Zandra Rhodes. In Australia Rosen brought a new perspective to the fashion pages with his backstage photos at Australian Fashion Week and documented celebrities, politicians and entertainers at parties, openings, launches and events from the exclusive Cointreau Ball to the ARIA Awards. He collaborated with those at the centre of creative culture during iconic moments and documented an eclectic mix of international and Australian celebrities. These include Paul McCartney, Bryan Ferry CBE, Elle McPherson, Peter Morrissey, Divine, Paul Capsis, Nina Simone, Boy George, Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Luciano Pavarotti, Lady Sonia McMahon, Elton John and Michael Hutchence.
Electric Keys will showcase over 20 keyboards from the Powerhouse collection, surveying the journey of electric keyboards and the instrument’s contribution to music. Mechanical instruments dating from the 17th Century will be presented alongside the Museum’s recently-acquired collection of mid-20th century models and a collection of significant synthesisers to explore modern keyboard development and its influence on the genres of soul jazz, blues, funk, rock, progressive rock to pop and hip-hop. Highlight objects on display include the Powerhouse’s oldest instrument, a Virginal plucked string keyboard with a compass of 4 octaves made in Italy in 1629; a 1974 electric piano ‘Wurlitzer 200A’, as heard performed by the Queen bassist John Deacon in You’re My Best Friend; and a 1982, Roland SH-101 monophonic synthesizer, producing the iconic baseline in Sweet Dreams by the 1980 pop duo Eurythmics (Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart).
Bringing together works from 160 Australian artists, Clay Dynasty will present more than 400 works from the Powerhouse collection, featuring 70 new commissions and acquisitions from Australian artists.
Surveying over 50 years of practice as shaped by three generations of makers, the exhibition features works by pioneer potters who profoundly changed the course of Australian studio ceramics in the 1960s. Led by the English potter Bernard Leach’s interest in pre-industrial ceramic traditions of Europe and East Asia, they made uniquely Australian objects by using local materials and responding to the Australian environment. Objects from the 1970s will illustrate the impact of American Funk art movement and popular culture in Australia, while works from the 1980s will reveal how Australian artists explored the vessel tradition through postmodern forms, colours and patterns.
Highlights from the Museum’s collection include ground-breaking works by Marea Gazzard AM, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott OAM, Margaret Dodd, Joan Grounds and a rare collection of the pottery made by Indigenous Australian artists in 1968–74 at the Bagot Pottery in Darwin, Northern Territory.
Highlighting contemporary artists who are at the forefront of the medium today, Clay Dynasty will showcase new works from across Australia. Commissioned by Powerhouse in 2020-21, artists presenting include Gamilaroi artist Penny Evans; South Australian artist Honor Freeman; Brisbane artist Nicolette Johnson; National Art School (Sydney) trained artist Juz Kitson; accomplished Tiwi ceramist and woodcarver Jock Puautjimi; National Art School lecturer Ebony Russell; London-based sculptor Renee So; Vipoo Srivilasa and Queensland-based artist Kenji Uranishi.
Alongside commissioned works, Clay Dynasty will present works recently acquired by the Powerhouse, including works by internationally renowned Western Australian artist Pippin Drysdale; Head of Ceramics at the National Art School Lynda Draper; Luritja/Pintupi painter and ceramic artist Kunmanara Carroll; Sydney–based artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran; Rona Panangka Rubuntja, award-winning artist and member of Hermannsburg Potters; Pitjanjatjara/Yankunytjatjara senior artist Carlene Thompson at Ernabella (Pukatja) Arts and contemporary potter Roswitha Wulff.
Graphic Identities will present work by eight celebrated 20th century designers Gordon Andrews, Douglas Annand, Frances Burke, Dahl Collings, Shirley de Vocht, Pieter Huveneers (Tooth and Co), Arthur Leydin and Alistair Morrison. The design archives from the Powerhouse collection reflect a wide range of disciplines and pre-digital media used by the designers across advertising, publishing, fine art and textiles. The designers drew inspiration from Australian flora and fauna, as well as local and international collaborations, working alongside artists such as Bauhaus designer Lászlo Moholy-Nagy and painter Russell Drysdale AC. Charting pivotal moments in the history of Australian design, Graphic Identities explores the role of visual communication in shaping Australia’s cultural identity.
The Powerhouse reopens in line with the latest NSW Government’s public health guidelines and has implemented a number of safety protocols to keep visitors safe during COVID-19. Staff, and visitors to the Powerhouse aged over 16, will be required to be double vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine, as well as wear masks throughout the museum. Further information can be found here: maas.museum/visitor-safety-information
Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris St, Ultimo
Reopens to the public 11 October 2021
See also: We’ve been expecting you