Arts West’s new displays for Semester Two

Once again the new displays in Arts West for Semester Two draw extensively on objects borrowed from the University’s museums and collections. Level one features an innovative display based on the important 19th century design sourcebook by Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament.

Rare Books has two copies of this important text which was a compendium of geometric and flat patterned designs that was highly influential in the design of wallpapers, interior paint schemes and textiles throughout the Victorian period. A floor design from the section in the Grammar of Ornament on Pompeian interiors also forms the backdrop for a case on level two which looks at the continuing fascination with the lost cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Pompeii was a must-see destination in the 18th century for travellers on the Grand Tour and designers such as Piranesi and Robert Adam incorporated Pompeian designs into their contemporary interiors and furnishings. The drama of the event also provided a storyline for many novels and poems most famous of which are Madame de Staël’s Corinne ou l'Italie (1807) and The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Arts West is collaborating with the University’s new Science Gallery Melbourne in a couple of displays on level three exploring the theme of blood. The inaugural Science Gallery Melbourne exhibition Blood: Attract and Repel will open on 25 July 2017 and in Arts West we have brought together some historical objects from the museums and collections related to blood. This includes two wonderful posters from the Gerard Herbst Collection housed in the Ian Potter Museum of Art featuring the Vampire film Nosferatu and the blood themed opera Wozzeck. 2017 is the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen and on level four of Arts West a new display will focus on music of her time. The case features reproductions of pages from an album of early 19th century music from the Rare Music Collection and a wonderful lithograph from the Baillieu Library Print Collection by Maria Spilsbury Singing, together with a sewing box from the Grainger Museum and other objects.

Image: Aerial view of the east facade of the Arts West building