In 1851, a little girl was born to a very talented family. Her name is Hannah Bolton Barlow. She studied under John Sparks, who was a close friend of Henry Doulton. Hannah became the first woman artist to be employed by Doulton potteries. Her love for animals and her knowledge about them is a strong feature of her work. Despite losing the use of her right hand, she learnt to become equally proficient in the use of her left hand. She could even produce up to 20 high-quality pots in a day. Today, her work is in demand due to the unique style and quality of her work.
A partnership between Alf Dagger and Jack Parker is what started Parker Furniture. However, it was Jack’s eldest son, Tony Parker, who turned the company into an icon. While working for his father during the day, Tony took night courses for industrial design. He drew plans for homes and interiors. He honed his skills in managing a team and measuring the success of a design during his stay in London. With Tony at the helm, Parker Furniture incorporated the innovations and iconic designs of the times, but the company still made certain that their products maintained the same quality and attention to detail their brand was known for.
John McHugh particularly established his pottery at the Sandhill with his three oldest sons to take advantage of the abundant source of clay. His pottery produced a wide range of wares and became a household name. It made a giant contribution to Tasmania’s growing prosperity. McHugh’s is one of the potteries that made their wares easily recognisable by marking them with features such as their name, also known as “Autographed Pottery”. World War 2 may have caused their eventual closure, but their wares have become astonishing and desirable collectibles of great value today.
Did you know that the house on Walsh Street was originally designed by Robin Boyd for his own family? This house is considered, both nationally and internationally, as an example of modern Australian architecture. Having designed the house, the influential Victorian architect thought it was only fitting that he creates the furniture as well. Each was masterfully crafted to be beautiful, yet comfortable and built for everyday use. Up until today, each piece of furniture from the Boyd Collection is made from Australian hardwood and Australian wool fabrics. With the help of the original drawings, each item faithfully follows the exact specifications and functional solutions that Boyd imposed on his originals.
Aspiring to be a poet, Cecil John Brack hadn’t decided to become an artist until he came across a reproduction of Vincent van Gogh’s The Night Café in a local bookshop. His art studies were interrupted in World War II, but he returned to his studies after the war. During his time in the army, Brack developed his artistic skills by creating drawings and sketches of his comrades. His painting, The New House, typified the culture of the Menzies Era. This was regarded as a “golden age” for Australia. His final work was purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales and was a finalist for the Archibald Prize.
George Tinworth’s story was a story of determination, courage and exceptional talent. As a boy, he already showed his talent in art by carving butter stamps. His neighbour noticed it and suggested he study at an art school. So when he got older, he pawned his overcoat just to pay the fee for evening classes to study pottery. George began his career with Royal Doulton when John Sparkes advised Henry Doulton to hire him. He was making a name for himself by becoming the premier artist for Royal Doulton. George’s name lives on, not only in his works, but he also has a street named after Him – “Tinworth Street” in Lambeth.
The term “Mid-Century Modern” was already being used as early as the mid-50s, but it wasn’t until author Cara Greenberg mentioned it in her 1983 book, as a descriptor of the design aesthetics at the time, that it gained attention. The term is now used to define a design movement originating from a bygone era, specifically those from the mid-40s to the early 70s. This was due to the renewed interest in furniture designs which began in the early 20th century. Despite the advent of postmodern aesthetics, mid-century modern never truly went into a decline. Nowadays, mid-century pieces are still highly sought-after in auctions and sales. Even authorised reproductions are in high demand.