University of Melbourne Archives

An Antarctic joke and the journey to Australia

Alice Margrison

Raymond Priestley's Australian diary, 1935
Raymond Priestley’s Australian diary, 1935. Raymond Priestley collection, 1973.0079.00002

Antarctic explorer and University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Raymond Priestley (1886-1974) kept a meticulous diary detailing his daily activities. This entry comes from the first volume of his “Australian diary” (item no. 1973.0079.00002), covering his activities on Wednesday January 30, 1935. The diary is typewritten, on one side of each page. It appears that Priestly added his own page numbers in handwriting in the top right-hand corner of each page. He also seems have been having trouble with his typewriter, as words have been corrected by hand, with blue ink, replacing letters skipped by the typewriter or cropped by the pages’ edges. Continue reading “An Antarctic joke and the journey to Australia”

Impoverished Artists

Laurence Marvin S. Castillo

The Daub art magazines produced by the students of the National Gallery Art School offer glimpses into the practices of art pedagogy in mid-twentieth century Australia. The magazines feature essays, short stories, poetry and drawings by students that critically and creatively index the contours of, and contradictions in, the learning institution as a cultural field.

The 1948 issue is particularly revealing of how art was viewed and located in the socio-economic grid of industrialisation after the second World War and it registers student concerns about the apparent subordination of the arts in Victoria’s pedagogical ambitions.

Excerpt from “What Then?” Daub 1948
Figure 1. Excerpt from “What Then?” Daub 1948. Lucy Kerley collection, 2007.0060.00151

Lucy Kerley’s article, “What Then?,” for instance, lamented the inadequacy of cultural training in the art school. While most students content themselves with skills-based training, Kerley believed that it was also important to pursue a theoretical and discursive intellectual trajectory that would acquaint students with topics like the history of art. She went on to suggest that such gaps stemmed from the lack of state support. Continue reading “Impoverished Artists”

Vicarious communist: a reflection on the empathetic archivist

Adapted from a presentation given at the symposium ‘Bernie Taft and 1968: Tanks in Prague, Turmoil in Australian Universities’, Friday 24th August 2018 by Jane Beattie, Assistant Archivist, University of Melbourne.

Black and white flyer of an event called Wednesday Night at the CPA. The flyer features cartoon sketches of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx
Wednesday Night at the CPA, flyer, c.1975-1981, Bernie Taft Collection, UMA, 2010.0053.00537


To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 2016, I wrote a blog post about Lloyd Edmonds. Lloyd’s family donated his letters, written mostly to his father, from the battlegrounds in Spain. Lloyd was studying in London when Franco invaded and felt so strongly in the Republican cause, and that Spain should not fall to fascism, that he joined the International brigade, along with 64 other Australians volunteering in Spain. Soon after this anniversary, the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA) ran a tutorial for a Hispanic Cultural Studies class, introducing students to the Archives using Lloyd’s letters and other material held at UMA about the war. Continue reading “Vicarious communist: a reflection on the empathetic archivist”

“Well, well! What an unenviable job judging must be!” — dissenting reports from the 1947 Travelling Scholarship and Art School Prizes

Mihai Bacaran   

The Judges’ Report in the 1948 issue of DAUB —  consists of two conflicting assessments of the work submitted by students for the Travelling Scholarship and the National Gallery Art School Prizes for 1947.[1] Three of the judges: Douglas Dundas, Eric Thake and the then director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Daryl Lindsay, sign a report that praises the welcomed diversification of techniques, a trend that encourages “a freer expression of thought in all mediums.” The fourth judge, Alice M. E. Bale, the only woman in the judging panel, concludes in a dissenting report that: “the experimentalizing commended by the other judges is premature,” and recommends that the students should first gain “a sound knowledge of natural appearances and the ability to render them.” This dispute is representative of a larger antagonism between the modern and traditional ways of painting, and their respective supporters which extends beyond the doors of the Art School, to the status of modern art in mid-century Melbourne in collecting institutions, the university and the wider public sphere. Such is the controversy, that the results of the competition generate articles in Melbourne newspapers, for example “Modernist” Picture Wins £900  (The Argus, Melbourne, Vic.: Fri 19 Dec 1947, Page 3) and Problem in Art Awards (The Argus, Melbourne, Vic.: Sat 20 Dec 1947, Page 43).

Page 30 from DAUB 1948
Page 30 from DAUB 1948. Lucy Kerley/National Gallery School Collection, 2007.0060.00151

Continue reading ““Well, well! What an unenviable job judging must be!” — dissenting reports from the 1947 Travelling Scholarship and Art School Prizes”

Priestley’s Penguins

Andrew Fuhrmann

Raymond Priestley's personal bookplate
Raymond Priestley’s personal bookplate. Raymond Priestley collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 1973.0079

There’s no doubt that Raymond Priestly (1886-1974) had a fondness for penguins. Open any of the fourteen volumes of his Australian diaries (1935-1938) and there they are on the inside cover. The personal bookplate of the eminent geologist and Antarctic explorer depicts an icy scene in bold black and white with a fur seal surrounded by four rather stout penguins. Continue reading “Priestley’s Penguins”

‘Daub’ 1947, 1948 and 1949: The Magazine Produced by Students of the National Gallery of Art School

Front page of the Daub 1947 edition
Front page of the Daub 1947 edition. Lucy Kerley collection, 2007.0060.00150

Daub was a magazine written and illustrated by students of the National Gallery of Art School, now the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in the 1940s.[1] Then located in the State Library of Victoria building, painting instruction for the School took place in a long, light bathed studio overlooking Little Lonsdale Street in the city[2]. The 3rd edition of the student magazine published annually from 1947 till 1961, DAUB (1949) is one object in the 44 boxes of the Lucy Kerley collection, which spans 9.42 kilometres. Generously illustrated with artworks, stories and poems by the current students, these documents are a rich source of the juvenilia produced by Melbourne’s artists of the 1940s and they give a glimpse into the life of the Art School and its students in the bustle of post-war Melbourne. Continue reading “‘Daub’ 1947, 1948 and 1949: The Magazine Produced by Students of the National Gallery of Art School”

The beginnings of a brilliant career

Catherine Nunn

Daub is a student art magazine which records the first steps in the artistic careers of some of Australia’s most important artists. Several articles reflect the challenges of life at the School and the torment of the creative process, but they also record the self-awareness of these young artists about their place in the Western art lineage and their commitment to progressing contemporary art[1].

Diagram showing how to stretch a canvas from page 12 of Daub 1948, by Lucy Kerley
Figure 1: Diagram showing how to stretch a canvas from page 12 of Daub 1948, by Lucy Kerley. University of Melbourne Archives, Lucy Kerley collection, 2007.0060.00150

Continue reading “The beginnings of a brilliant career”

What changes? What makes an artist?

Diana Tay

The necessary brass plate for artists in 1949
Figure 1: The necessary brass plate for artists in 1949. Daub, 1949. Lucy Kerley collection, 2007.0060.00152

For a conservator, troubles begin, as troubles often do, in a collection, a museum or perhaps, in an archive. Materials change, degrade and then, comes the worry that we’ll lose a piece of history or a moment in time. However, the powers of digitisation have made many collections accessible today in what appears to be a visual freezing of time. In fact, as in fiction, this desire has continued for as long as collections continue to grow – our desire to have and to hold for as long as possible[i]. As an unsuspecting conservator browsing thorough DAUB (1949)[ii], a student art magazine by the National Gallery Art School, I found that it set off these reflections on time and artists. The materiality of time was evident in the thirty yellowed pages of drawings and articles printed in monochrome blue ink. Working with contemporary artists as part of my profession but recalling the saying that reading a book is like looking into someone’s mind, I found myself exploring how these student writings, particularly the more humourous or ironic notes and cartoons in the magazine, resonate nearly seventy years later. Continue reading “What changes? What makes an artist?”

The Frank Tate Diaries

Sophie Russell

Frank Tate Letters, 1932-33

Frank Tate, born 18 June 1864 near Castlemaine, Victoria, was one of Australia’s most esteemed educators of the 19th and 20th centuries. After discovering a talent for teaching as a pupil-teacher at the Old Model School on Spring Street in Melbourne in 1877, Tate began a hugely successful career in teaching that led to his appointment as the first Director of Education in 1902. Frank Tate was critical of the education system that he inherited, a system that included a narrow curriculum, low teacher training, low teacher salaries and the ‘payment by results’ system of remuneration. As a founding member of the State School Teachers Union of Victoria, Department of Education inspector, a key contributor to the Theodore Fink Royal Commission into technical education, and as Director of Education Tate lobbied for the introduction of ‘new education’ and reform in Victorian schools. Tate’s educational reforms introduced a more liberal and creative approach to education, with the inclusion of literature and poetry into a curriculum that had previously been defined by wrote-learning and strict discipline. Tate was vocal about the under-resourced and under-funded plight of rural Victorian schools, and believed that all Victorian children should have equal access to a well-funded and well-taught public education. Tate has been recognised by colleagues and students as a man of wit and charm, who frequently quoted Shakespeare, and who fostered a sense of dignity among the undervalued teachers of Victoria.  Continue reading “The Frank Tate Diaries”

International Human Rights Day 2017

Supporting democracy and human rights is one of the six principles of the Universal Declaration on Archives was adopted by the 36th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO on 10th November 2011. In acknowledging International Human Rights Day on the 10th of December each year, archives and their Galleries, Libraries, Museums (GLAM) colleagues have a professional obligation to reflect on their role as custodians of records document human rights violations.

Simba Mumengegwi speaking at the International Human Rights Day rally, University of Melbourne Archives, 10 December 1974, John Ellis Collection, 1999.0081.00778

Continue reading “International Human Rights Day 2017”

Number of posts found: 115