Contrary to our increasingly backwards collective worldview of late, it appears that Australians are actually bunch of forward-looking early adopters. (Really! There is hope for us yet!) Our uniquely hysterical and deeply nostalgic response to cultural zeitgeists such as ABBA and the Beatles are proof of this quick uptake on popular culture and ‘the new’. The NGV’s current exhibition Mid-Century Modern makes wonderfully apparent just how early-adopting Australia’s postwar community were – showcasing a beautifully curated show rich with innovative furniture in a brave new world of (then) high-tech materials and materials.
Like to visit Mid-Century Modern courtesy of Ruby Assembly? We’ve got two tickets up for grabs … details at the bottom of this post.
A day out at NGV Federation Square for Mid-Century Modern – I love how the steps of Melbourne’s communal heart deepen year-by-year into delicious hazlenut-raspberry shortcake shades.
Can you imagine what Australia was like after World War 2? Country towns decimated, the city a Bracks monotone, unrecognisable without our familiar LCD screens and pop-up everythings. It would also have been an exciting – if frightening for some – time. An influx of European immigrants changed the cultural landscape, bringing their knowledge and craftmanship, their talents for beautiful production, and their raw labour which improved the quality of life for middle-Australia. Mid-Century Modern presents in stunning hypercolor the new-look furniture which became our featurist mode (which continues today, much to Boyd’s chagrin!), and presents a stunningly modern Australian aesthetic which embraced European modernism with aplomb. Inset above: Marion Hall Best’s interior design for clients Joan and Richard Crebbin.
At once modern and retro to our contemporary eye, can you imagine how alien these pieces would have looked when they first appeared in a lounge-suite in Camberwell?
My favorite pieces were these incredibly intricate Egon Schiele-like wooden bespoke furniture sets by Schulim Krimper (born 1893!). Remember when I went to the Larger Than Life event a couple of weeks ago? That was actually at Krimper’s original studio – small Melbourne, hey? The sheer skill and vision required to produce such futuristic designs using age-old craftsman and make skills warms my heart and gives me hope. Beauty and the appreciation for beauty without reason in our surrounds can exist no matter how fallow a culture might fall. (I’m looking at you, My Kitchen Rules et al.)
The exhibition consists of room vignettes, and some fascinating architectural images of the homes that would contain such interiors.
Like to visit NGV Australia at Federation Square to see Mid-Century Modern? I’ve got a double pass to give away to a lucky Ruby Assembly! To win:
1. You must be a subscribed to the Ruby Assembly blog (scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the ‘subscribe’ button. We check these things, so no sneakiness!)
2. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Modern Australians’, and tell us what you think best represents iconic Australian design. Is it a Hills Hoist? An empty jar of Vegemite? Be creative – it’s a game of skill!
3. For EXTRA good karma, follow Ruby Assembly on Facebook OR follow Ruby Assembly on Instagram @iolantherubyslipper
Good luck! Winner will be announced on the Ruby Assembly Facebook page on 25th of June, 2014.