Arthur Purnell, Architect

Arthur W. Purnell (1878-1964) was a Geelong-born architect who built a thriving practice in Melbourne. He designed hundreds of buildings, including the Olympic Stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Rosebud Yacht Club, and many factories, offices, shops and warehouses. Many of these still exist, including Melbourne landmark Michael’s Corner on Elizabeth Street. Purnell had a close client-architect relationship with Alexander George (‘Alec’) Barlow (1880–1937), a trailblazing Melbourne car dealer. Car show rooms, racing stables and this house were amongst the work completed by Purnell for Barlow.

The University of Melbourne Archives is the custodian of Purnell’s architectural drawings, which provide a unique view of architecture and life in Melbourne during the first half of the 20th century. The University Library recently partnered with Arts Victoria to provide information on the Purnell collection on its Culture Victoria website. See

Above: Arthur W. Purnell, Residence at Punt Road South Yarra for A.G. Barlow esq. (construction drawing), 28 November 1924. Arthur Purnell Collection, University of Melbourne Archives.

The Morgan Collection of Children’s Books

Image from The Sleeping Beauty, illustrated by Walter Crane, engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans, London: J. Lane, c.1897.

This is from the Morgan Collection of Children’s Books, a substantial part of which was donated to the University Library in 1954 by F.C. Morgan (1878-1978). Morgan was an English librarian and through a connection to Sir John Medley, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne from 1938 to 1951, he decided to donate to a Commonwealth country, believing that Britain already had sufficient such collections. The Morgan Collection has grown to around 4,000 beautiful and fascinating items, which can be viewed in the Special Collections reading room, 3rd floor, Baillieu Library.

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Percy Grainger as an Artist

It is not very well known that in addition to his prodigious gifts as pianist and composer, Percy Grainger was also a talented artist. Learning initially from his father John Grainger, the well-known architect (but fine watercolourist), and then from Frederick McCubbin – the famous Australian artist of the Heidelberg School, up until the age of eighteen, Grainger was seriously considering dropping his music career altogether in favour of the visual arts. Given that he befriended artists such as McCubbin, Rupert Bunny, Tom Roberts, Norman Lindsay (to name but a few), this is hardly surprising! Pictured is one of Percy Grainger’s artworks in watercolour.

Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882-1961), Oscillator-playing tone tool, 1st experiment, 1951, watercolour, ink and graphite on paper, 14.2 x 25.7 cm, Grainger Museum collection, University of Melbourne.

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