Digitisation of Australiana magazine
Illustrated talk and tour of the musical instruments collection at the Powerhouse Museum, 29th September 2012
|Two of the Museum’s grand pianos, one with a painted scene on its inside lid.||Michael Lea with some of the Museum’s collection of flutes.||An engraved saxophone from the Museum's collection.|
The Australiana Society at the AAADA fair 2012
The Society had a small display and presence at the Sydney AAADA Fair held at the Byron Kennedy Hall, Moore Park, from 2nd to 5th August. A group of dedicated volunteers generously donated their time to be at the stand to promote the Society and answer questions. As was the case last year, there was great interest from the fair attendees and as a result, we welcomed many new members to the Society. Our stand was greatly assisted by a wonderful display of Australian pottery and pokerwork sourced from the collections of our members. The items all had a common decorative theme of Australian flannel flowers. We also said hello to many members who were attending the fair, including some from interstate and out of town.
The Australiana Society annual dinner at Swifts. 11th February 2012
A report by Jim Bertouch, Society President
Swifts has been described by the Australian Heritage Commission as '... perhaps the grandest house remaining in Sydney.' Mrs Kerry Jones, one of the current owners and a Society life member, generously invited members to an 'open house' evening in which guests could freely move around and inspect the garden and formal floor rooms of the property.
Following dinner the invited speaker, well known eminent architect and architectural historian Clive Lucas, gave a short presentation on the history and restoration of Swifts.
The fascinating talk revealed that the property had been owned at various times by two 'beer barons'. Robert Tooth commissioned the original gothic, sandstone mansion in 1875 to a design by G.A. Morell, named after the family home in Kent.In the 1880s, (Sir) Robert Lucas-Tooth (1844-1915) enclosed the original structure in the stone castellated envelope which we see today, specifying that the ballroom be larger than that at Government House.
Edmund Resch purchased Swifts in 1900. In 1963 the property was left to the Catholic Church by Resch's son, and the original ballroom was converted into a chapel, which became a popular wedding venue.
Clive Lucas explained that during this period of occupation by the Catholic Archbishop, all of the portraits of famous musicians and composers, which had been painted on the walls of the ballroom, were systematically removed. At various times wallpaper had been applied over the other painted decorations on the walls, and the contrasting painted colours on cornices and ceilings were lost.
In 1986 the building and property was sold to a developer and fell into disrepair.
Doug and Greta Moran purchased the estate in 1997, by then in a dilapidated state. Many of the original features had been damaged or lost. Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners were engaged to renovate the property, which surprisingly was still sitting on the original 3.5 acre (14,000 m2) parcel of land. Despite the daunting setback of a freak hailstorm in 1999, which destroyed the new Welsh slate roof and caused considerable water damage, the building was eventually restored to its High Victorian style.
Swifts is constructed from Sydney sandstone and resembles a castle in appearance with arcades and parapets. The magnificent painted wall and ceiling decorations and portraits have all been restored, with the non-original wallpaper having been removed. Ornate, oversized fireplaces, some with hand-painted glazed tiles, decorate the formal rooms. Some original cedar joinery is still present and there is some Victorian cedar furniture made by Hudson Brothers of Redfern.
The property is sited at the end of Darling Point in an elevated position and must originally have had magnificent harbour views, now significantly obscured by modern apartment blocks. The garden is being restored under the supervision of Dr. James Broadbent.
During the evening, the opportunity to wander around the garden and formal rooms provided a wonderful experience and the furnishing and decorations are magnificent. The charming small proportioned Moorish smoking room was particular popular.
Given the enthusiastic response from Society members, who attended in record numbers, the opportunity to hear Clive Lucas talk about the history and painstaking restoration of Swifts, while sitting in the beautiful ballroom, was irresistible. It was possible only because of the tireless efforts of Annette and Bill Blinco and the generosity of Kerry Jones.