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Labassa Mansion

Labassa Mansion

Riding Jacket, National Trust (Victoria) Costume Collection

Riding Jacket, National Trust (Victoria) Costume Collection

The second week of my mentorship at the National Trust (Victoria) took of where I left it – in amongst archive boxes and garment racks filled with historic undergarments at the home of the Trust’s Costume Collection, Labassa Mansion.

My mentor, Lizzie Anya-Petrivna and I had been in contact since my last week discussing the real possibility of this mentorship (and the research undertaken) becoming an exhibition. This meant that we were really focused on getting a shortlist together of garments that would fit a series of curatorial themes that we had been playing with via email since July. Day one and day two was all about sorting collection items into these themes and pulling items into ‘yes, no, maybe’ groups. This process also evidenced the extent undergarments in the Trust’s collection, something that we had thought may be one of the largest in the country.

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The first thing that strikes me on arrival at National Trust of Australia (Victoria) is the incredibly beautiful terraces it housed in – Tasma Terrace. Situated just behind Victoria Parliament and in front of a sculpture by Susan Hewitt and Penelope Lee, commemorating the 100th anniversary of female suffrage in Victoria, Tasma, as it is affectionately known sets the tone of an exciting week of historical houses and collections.

The collections team at the Trust are three passionate individuals and my mentor, Lizzie Anya-Petrivna is a joy from our first face to face introduction. A short orientation and introduction and we are off to be immersed in the Costume Collection for the rest of the day.

The Trust’s costume collection is stored primarily at Labassa Mansion, one of the 23 historic venues that the Trust manages. It is here where I will spend the majority of my first week.  Labassa is one of Australia’s most outstanding 19th century mansions. Hidden in a cul-de-sac in North Caulfield, Labassa’s striking Romantic facade and opulent interiors reflect high-Victorian era grandeur. My initial introduction to the collection does not disappoint – it is a relatively large collection and tells the fashion history of Melbourne and Victoria. The strengths of the collection are in the locally made and worn costumes, dating from 1850-1970. The collection provides insight into patterns of consumption, emigration, trade, and social change. We unpack racks and solander boxes filled with items, each one with a little story from Lizzie. This hands-on introduction to the collection is a great experience and builds confidence straight away. Read the rest of this entry »

Nina is Gallery and Museum Assistant with Moreton Bay Regional Council.

First week at Grafton Regional Gallery

Nina Pye

First day at Grafton I was thrown right into attending the Gallery Goes to School program with Min – enthusiastic, bubbly Min. When we got to the school the impact that the Gallery has on children in the area was obvious, with a boy, Travis, following and helping us at every possible opportunity (even when I am sure he was supposed to be in class!) For the primary school, Min had selected a group of paintings which were either a bit ominous or quirky to go with the How to Make a Monster: The Art and Technology of Animatronics exhibition.The classes came through in grades and were encouraged to select artworks which were discussed as a group, with an emphasis on how the children interpreted them. Following discussions about several of the artworks they created little monsters with clay, paddle pop sticks and pipe cleaners. I found how Grafton Gallery is so relaxed with access to its collection quite astonishing and refreshing. They are able to make art accessible to the region’s fifty-plus schools, including those that are quite remote. It also allows all students to be included instead of depending on families to afford travel costs and sign permission slips. Afterwards I had a great time with Min revising the selection for the high school group she was visiting the next day.

Grafton Gallery also has a great relationship with its libraries and we went out to the Grafton Library to do story/art time. Dave Funnell, who creates the quirkiest of suitcase art, also came with us. The group was mostly 2-4 year olds. We found a book called Monster Hug which we read to the children with silly actions like stomping on bridges and hiding behind furniture and throwing cars (Rose and I are terrible actors!)

They then made air drying clay monsters. Examples below….Nina Pye

I was amazed at how many school Groups were booking to attend Monster tours, with usually more than one a day and Rose constantly fielding phone calls for additional bookings. The Grafton Galleries Loft Space was a great space for the children’s activities to be set out. It allowed plenty of room for children to spread out without interrupting the viewing of the main part of the exhibition.

The final children’s program I attended during the week was the Kiddies Cushion Concert which is a partnership between the Gallery and the Conservatorium. The children who came had a ball playing instruments and dancing; it also helped to expand the idea of creativity outside of visual art. They did a monster theme and included songs from Phantom of the Opera and Puff the Magic Dragon. One little boy came dressed as an alien vampire with face paint and all. And the sweetest looking little girl, who was about two-and-a-half, monster-roared so loudly into the microphone that she gave everyone a start. It is obvious that Rose has worked quite diligently to create and maintain these relationships with schools and groups throughout the community. By having staff dedicated to developing engaging community and youth programs, they can be something quite highly valued and appreciated.Nina Pye

During the time between these events I was given the privilege of looking through past exhibition and program files to gather new ideas. Ideas such as creating a facilitator database and engaging in partnerships with local Kindys or art stores etc. are some of the ideas I would like to apply to my own projects. Hopefully I will learn some more in my second week !!!


Second week at Grafton Regional Gallery

My second week at Grafton was designed to be an extension of the first week’s project of designing activities for the JADA Family Fun Day. The start of the week focused on collecting and organising the materials required to run the activities I had initially developed with Rose. It was great to bounce ideas on what works best for different activities, and I learnt many tricks which I can apply to projects being run for G.A.M.E. – Gallery And Museum Explorers at Moreton Bay.

Rose was also very patient about showing me basic design and drawing skills in Illustrator and Photoshop – although I had done courses in Photoshop before, these were an eon ago and I was quite rusty! I had fun creating a mask outline, isolating images from photographs to be used for a Rebecca Bladen activity, and warping a carpet template on which the children use doggy crayons to draw skid marks. Rose was quite amused by my drawing techniques, which completely overlooked the many possible short cuts available to complete these images much faster.

The Family Fun Day was great and the private courtyard at Grafton Gallery was a lovely setting for the event. The children started streaming in almost as soon as the doors opened, and all volunteers and staff were on hand to assist and entertain our visitors. I had the pleasure of running two of the Tot Tours for the day-see photos.

We had swirling, singing Row your Boat, and as usual enjoyed the unique insights that children always seem to provide when looking at art works. One boy in particular observed that Jodi Daley’s work appeared to have a story – ‘where was the rider?’ Touch-box experiences gave them a chance to express the textural qualities of an art work and fun was had taking in turns to place items into a still-life design to reinvent 5 Forms 1 by Ken Smith. The level of interactivity with this predominantly under-6 group was surprising, and I feel encouraged to explore the possibility of a toddlers’ day at the Moreton Bay Galleries or Museums.


M&GSQ’s 2012 Mentorship, Exchange and Fellowship Program is funded by Arts Queensland through the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). RADF is a joint Queensland Government and Local Government partnership to support local arts and culture.

See M&GSQ’s website, for more information about the Mentorship, Exchange and Fellowship Program.

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