I have recently returned from a long weekend in Melbourne. I popped over primarily to see the exhibition Vienna: Art + Design at the National Gallery of Victoria (which was well worth it), but also took the opportunity to catch up on some of Victoria’s other wonderful offerings, including the Johnston Collection in East Melbourne, and a trip out to the Bendigo Art Gallery.
I attended a study day at the Johnston Collection, a must visit for anyone visiting Melbourne who is interested in Georgian, Regency and Louis XV fine and decorative arts. ‘Bringing the Garden Indoors’ was designed to augment the Johnston Collection’s current exhibition The Garden of Ideas, curated by Richard Aitken and based on his book of the same name. The speakers included Aitken, who gave a wonderful talk about the ways in which the tradition of flower arranging assisted in the wider appreciation of Australian flora (including use in wedding bouquets); Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna who explored the tradition of creating artificial flowers in the 19th century from a bewildering array of materials from wax, paper and feathers to cork and leather; and Gloria Strzelecki who examined the art of flower arranging through the eyes of some of Australia’s leading modernist painters, such as Margaret Preston, and discussed the far-reaching influence of English florist, Constance Spry who toured Australia in 1959.
In one of those lovely cases of synchronicity, the lessons learned during the study day played out the following day on a road trip to Bendigo to see the wedding dress exhibition which will open at Te Papa on 17 December as Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Dress from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.