Powerhouse unveils 1001 Remarkable Objects, major new exhibition led by Leo Schofield AM

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Powerhouse unveils 1001 Remarkable Objects, major new exhibition led by Leo Schofield AM
Powerhouse 1001 Remarkable Objects. Credit Zan Wimberley.

SYDNEY.- ‘Our vision for 1001 Remarkable Objects was a seemingly simple one: to create an exhibition celebrating the sheer scale, breadth and relevance of the Powerhouse Collection. But how to choose? We rejected the nomenclature of ‘treasures’ or ‘masterpieces’ and instead determined all choices must be in some way ‘remarkable’ – whether by virtue of rarity, visual appeal, social history or an ability to invoke wonder. The result is a cornucopia of eras, styles, form, function, size and colour, to stoke memories that so many have of this iconic institution and signal the beginning of a new phase in its marvellous existence’, said Curatorium Chair Leo Schofield AM.

Leo Schofield AM has a long association with Powerhouse, as a former member of the Board of Trustees and a significant donor. He has worked in collaboration with advisors Ronan Sulich, Mark Sutcliffe and Powerhouse curator Eva Czernis-Ryl to select 1001 objects from the more than half a million objects within the collection. This selection includes objects that have never been exhibited before alongside much loved collection icons.

The Powerhouse Collection will be presented across the applied arts and applied sciences including the decorative arts, jewellery, costume, textiles, furniture, clocks, musical instruments, industrial design and social history.

Exhibition designers Pip Runciman, Julie Lynch and Ross Wallace were invited to respond to underlying themes of nature, power, movement and joy. They have created an exhibition that features more than 25 rooms, presenting an unexpected juxtaposition of objects and leads visitors on a journey across time and memory.

Extraordinary objects include a rare Meissen porcelain satirical portrait bust of the court jester known as Baron Schmiedel, made in 1739; the only surviving fragment of the Lockheed Altair aircraft Lady Southern Cross flown by pioneer aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith for his final flight in 1935; an Edo period samurai warrior’s suit of armour; and a Detroit Electric car manufactured in 1917.

Musical instruments include a double bass made in 1856 by John Devereux, one of the oldest surviving bowed string instruments made in Australia by a professional instrument maker; an acoustic guitar decorated with handpainted designs by Harold ‘The Kangaroo’ Thornton; and an upright bookcase grand piano, made in 1809.

Fashion highlights include a 1700s court dress; an evening dress by Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel for her Spring collection of 1939; a pair of Super Elevated Gillie platform shoes by British designer Vivienne Westwood from Anglomania, her Autumn/Winter collection 1993–94; and Romance Was Born’s 2009 ‘Iced VoVo’ dress.

Costumes include the ‘Showgirl’ costume worn by Kylie Minogue for the Closing Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games; the ‘Pink Diamonds’ dress worn by Nicole Kidman in the Baz Luhrmann film, Moulin Rouge and the ‘Fruity Mambo’ costumes designed by Catherine Martin for Strictly Ballroom the Musical.

More than 100 rare and remarkable pieces of jewellery will highlight a recent major donation by Anne Schofield AM. This includes Egyptian revival designs from the 1800s and mourning jewellery crafted from human hair, which will be on display at Powerhouse for the first time.

French and Venetian glass from the 1800–1900s will be presented, as will an English stained-glass window, 'The Delphic Sibyl', based on an 1873 painting by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones made by Morris & Co about 1900, alongside key examples of Australian and international studio glass ranging from Dale Chihuly to Canberra-based artist Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello and Sydney-based artist Brian Hirst.

‘Leo Schofield and his collaborators, through this exhibition, shed new light and new perspectives on the Powerhouse Collection. In 1001 Remarkable Objects we continue to extend our commitment to sharing with our communities the Powerhouse Collection and the many insights and connections it makes to both our past and our future’, said Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah.

Powerhouse will present two special Powerhouse Late programs presented in collaboration with Liquid Architecture. The first program on 5 October is an exploration of the unusual and remarkable sonics in response to the exhibition with creative practitioners who evoke a range of moods through their work. On 23 November, a range of artists will take inspiration from the designers who have created unique worlds for these objects in conjunction with a celebration to launch companion publication 1001.

Powerhouse Ultimo
1001 Remarkable Objects
August 26th, 2023 - December 2023

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