The Johnston Collection
Year in Review
2018 - 2019
WHAT WE DO
It was William Johnston’s intention that Fairhall be regularly rearranged and since it was first opened to the public in 1990, a regular program of re-installation and interventions of the permanent collection was established with creative individuals with a background in architecture, design, art, interiors, fashion and antiques, invited to rearrange (or ‘guest curate’) The Johnston Collection. From this three distinct annual exhibition series have emerged.
HOUSE OF IDEAS PROJECT SERIES
In this series, guest curators use Fairhall as a site-specific installation space to reconceptualise the Collection, often incorporating their own work, or loan items, in their reconstruction of the exhibition-house.
The House of Ideas series offers a radical interpretation of the Collection with the aim of engaging with new and diverse audiences.
CHRISTMAS AT THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION
Each year since 2004 The Johnston Collection has commissioned makers from a different region of Victoria to create new works inspired by aspects of the Collection, or relating to the life of William Johnston, or by Christmas itself.
Christmas at The Johnston Collection encourages artists to challenge traditional practice and to push the boundaries of contemporary making. This exhibition offers an ‘inspired’ interpretation of the Collection.
WILLIAM JOHNSTON AND HIS COLLECTION
In this series individuals from the wider community are invited to rearrange Fairhall, generally using only the items in the Collection. William Johnston and his Collection series offers a ‘traditional’ interpretation of the Collection.
image credit: William Johnston (untitled)
PATTERNS OF COLLECTING | FROM THE BOWER
House of Ideas project series 2018
(4 June 2018 - 18 September 2018)
This touring exhibition featured artwork and items from the unique personal collections of four contemporary Victorian artists: Loris Button, Deborah Klein, Louise Saxton, and Carole Wilson. Their studio collections which ranged from curiosities, natural history specimens, memorabilia, discarded books, china, textiles and old tools of trade, were installed in Fairhall alongside and responding to William Johnston’s collection.
PATTERNS OF COLLECTING explored the ways in which objects are collected and ideas around the notion of a bower and a woman’s private space.
Along with regular guided tours, a special series of 'Walk & Talk' tours with the guest artists were conducted where the PATTERNS OF COLLECTING artists took visitors through Fairhall, discussing their work and the inspiration and processes behind the exhibition
“This very personal exhibition invites the audience to see the created environments gathered from the artists’ workspace with their collections revealing as much about the artist as their own work.”
Louis Le Vaillant, Director | Curator of The Johnston Collection
image credit: Deborah Klein, detail tattooed faces sampler, 1997, linocut on interfacing stitched onto oriental paper and calico Photography Adam Luttick, Luts Photography
HOME made GOOD
(1 October 2018 - 5 February 2019)
HOME made GOOD | Christmas at The Johnston Collection 2018 | 2019 presented over 200 works from more than 50 Melbourne-based artists and collectives. In this ‘inspired’ interpretation of the Collection, the artists were encouraged by TJC who commissioned the work, to explore new contemporary practices and ideas and to create ‘new works based on old objects.’
The exhibition included a gigantic gingerbread replica of Fairhall exhibition-house made by Barbara Porter from nearly 65 kilograms of gingerbread mix, furnished entirely of gingerbread furniture, textiles, and paintings, whimsically recreating the antiques from the Collection; a giant sculpture by The Bond Family of Marie-Antoinette composed of discarded plastic bags and soft drink bottles, delivering a political commentary on ocean plastics; and an installation ‘on disappointment’, by the notorious Hotham Street Ladies artists collective as a response to a series of letters received expressing ‘disappointment’ in their previous exhibition at The Johnston Collection.
image credit: The Bond Family, After Marie Photography Adam Luttick, Luts Photography
WILLIAM JOHNSTON: His Residence & Collection
(18 February – 25 June 2019)
OBJECT LESSONS featured many significant objects gathered by William Johnston with a particular focus on those he collected in India and especially Calcutta (Kolkata). In this exhibition, Fairhall was recreated as a relaxed British-style interior found in India in the early 19th century, giving visitors an insight into what it was like to live as a colonial Englishman abroad.
OBJECT LESSONS was based on the original arrangement of Johnston’s collection in Fairhall when it first opened to the public as an exhibition-house in 1990.
image credit: detail Fairhall The Green Room (as restaged for OBJECT LESSONS) photography Adam Luttick, Luts Photography
SPECIAL MENU TOURS 2018 | 2019
In addition to the three main Fairhall tours, special menu tours are presented throughout the year focusing on particular areas of the Collection. Menu tours offer a further way to experience and enjoy the Collection by allowing visitors to explore hidden aspects and interior details of items in the Collection that ordinarily go unnoticed during regular exhibition-house tours.
UNLOCKING THE COLLECTION
By 'unlocking' the doors, lids and covers of objects, this specially developed tour offers visitors the opportunity to see the intriguing hidden aspects and interior details of items in Fairhall.
Unlocking The Collection tours were presented on 19 July 2018, 16 August 2018, 10 September 2018, 21 March 2019, 15 April 2019, and 16 May 2019.
image credit: detail Fairhall The White Room (as restaged for ANOTHER LOOK) photography Adam Luttick, Luts Photography
This special tour explored the social and cultural histories of botanical motifs through their representation on porcelain, printings, furniture and other decorative objects in the Collection.
Bloom tours were presented on 3 July 2018, 7 August 2018, 6 September 2018, 28 March 2019, and 30 April 2019.
image credit: artist: unknown Still life, vase with flowers and bonsai Chinese inks and colours on woven rice paper China circa 1840, AO992-1989
LECTURES & STUDY SERIES
This year The Johnston Collection presented more than 60 lectures, talks, study series, and master classes featuring new and returned speakers from a variety of fields, bringing a range of voices and perspectives to our lecture program.
See Appendix 5 for a full list of our 2019 Lectures and Study Series program.
image credit: Gustav Mullins (1854-1921). Queen Victoria, with her daughter Beatrice, Princess of Battenberg, her grand-daughter Victoria, Princess of Battenberg, and her great-grand-daughter, Princess Alice of Battenberg (mother of Prince Philip). 1886. Albumen Print. Collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II.
STUDY DAY | PRIVATE COLLECTIONS | THE VALUE OF ART & EPHEMERA
This all-day event on Saturday 21 July 2018 featured a wide range of speakers from the arts and museum sectors who explored ideas around collecting, collections and collectors.
image credit: detail Fairhall The Bedroom (as rearranged by Hecker Guthrie for WILLIAM JOHNSTON'S EMPORIUM) photography Adam Luttick, Luts Photography
TRANSFORM YOUR OLD DOILIES | RECYCLE, RE-USE AND RE-CREATE!
Artist Louise Saxton shared her passion for reclaiming domestic textiles in this sold-out workshop on 2 August 2018. At this hands-on event participants transformed no longer used items from home into artworks.
image credit: Louise Saxton, detail of “Wall Garden” 2016-2017.
Reclaimed needlework, lace-pins, nylon tulle
Images supplied. Courtesy and © of the artist
SPECIAL SERIES | MELBOURNE STORIES
A series of talks presented throughout the year celebrating Melbourne's rich cultural history.
image credit: Upper bird tray from The Macquarie Collectors’ Chest c1818
Joseph Lycett (ca. 1775-1828); James Wallis (1785?-1858), William Westall (1781-1850) The Macquarie chest (sometimes known as the Strathallan Chest), Australia, circa 1818 courtesy of the Mitchell Library, Sydney, collection of the State Library of New South Wales(SLNSW) (catalogue record 442725)
image provided | Wikimedia Commons
VAMFF ARTS PROGRAM SERIES 2019
The Johnston Collection was a participant in the VAMFF Arts Program Series 2019 with a series of five lectures exploring contemporary and historical
image credit: detail Look 30, dress Alexander McQueen
2006 (Widows of Culloden collection, autumn-winter 2006–07) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Krystyna Campbell-Pretty and the Campbell-Pretty Family through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2018
© Alexander McQueen
STUDY SERIES | ROBING & INVESTITURE
This three-part study series presented by Susan Scollay, an independent art historian specialising in Islamic art and culture and historic textiles, and Catherine Kovesi, an historian of Early Modern Italy, explored the role of textiles, particularly robes, in conferring status and the diplomatic, economic and political meanings they conveyed.
image credit: Mantle of Roger II of Sicily, dated 1133-1134 AD
Silk, gold and silk thread, semi-precious and glass jewels Kaiserliche Schatzkammer, (Imperial Treasury), Museum of Fine Art, Vienna, acc. no. WS XIII 14
STUDY SERIES | FABRICATING THE WORLD | SERIES 1
This three-part study series presented by Susan Scollay, an independent art historian specialising in Islamic art and culture and historic textiles, and Natasha Amendola, who works at Monash University and has a special interest in the symbolic uses of textiles, explored the evolution of ancient textiles.
image credit: vase, (showing women working at a warp-weighted loom), terracotta, Greece, circa 550–530 BCE, Collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
STUDY SERIES | THE JANE AUSTEN SERIES 2018
A two-part lecture series celebrating the works of Jane Austen with speakers Emeritus Professor John Wiltshire from La Trobe University and Melbourne actress, Lise Rodgers.
image credit: Cassandra Austen (English, 1773-1845)
Jane Austen, circa 1810
pencil and watercolour on paper | 114 mm x 80 mm
© National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 3630
purchased with help from The Friends of the National Libraries, 1948
STUDY SERIES | VON REISBERG SERIES | ROYAL DAUGHTERS: IMMORTALISED IN PAINT
Eugene Barilo Von Reisberg, lecturer, researcher, and art consultant presented three lectures looking at the daughters of the British and European monarchies and their representation in paintings.
image credit: Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Queen Victoria (1819-1901) with her Four Eldest Children, 1845, oil on canvas, The Royal Collection, England, RCIN 405293, Royal Collection Trust / ©Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018 | Public Domain
The Johnston Collection is in a residential area and operates within the terms set out in its City of Melbourne planning permit which stipulates that the museum can have no more than 72 visitors through Fairhall exhibition-house and 33 people attending a lecture in the Kent Room per day.
This year The Johnston Collection welcomed 4421 visitors. Of these, 3482 visited exhibitions in Fairhall and a further 939 attended lectures, study series, a study day, and workshop. These were usually held in the Kent Room. [See Appendix 2] Overall, visitor numbers were 8% lower than the previous year.
An additional 95 visitors attended The Friends of The Johnston Collection events held at The Johnston Collection.
ENGAGING WITH THE COMMUNITY
The Johnston Collection participates in a number of major Melbourne events throughout the year offering programmatic collaborations aimed at strengthening our ties and connections with local Melbourne communities, and providing additional opportunities for everyone to enjoy the Collection.
OPEN HOUSE MELBOURNE 2018 | #OPEN YOUR CITY
28 July 2018
OPENING DOORS 2018 | THE MELBOURNE SAVAGE CLUB
1 August 2018
VICTORIAN SENIORS FESTIVAL 2018
GOVERNMENT HOUSE OPEN DAY 2019
26 January 2019
VIRGIN AUSTRALIA MELBOURNE FASHION FESTIVAL ARTS PROGRAM 2019
4 – 7 March 2019
MELBOURNE FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2019 | GIN UP AT THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION
Taking inspiration from the sumptuous Georgian room settings in Fairhall, Four Pillars Gin created classic and contemporary cocktails celebrating the unique history of gin for this event at TJC.
14 March 2019
THE FRIENDS OF THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION EVENTS
The Friends of The Johnston Collection is a devoted group of individuals who support TJC through fundraising and other activities. Funds raised by The Friends support our exhibitions and other public programs, TJC publications, conservation of the Collection, and the purchase of acquisitions including subscriptions to Apollo, Selvedge, V&A, and West 86th magazines for TJC's Reference Library. In 2019 The Friends Committee organised a number of exclusive events and activities for members.
A variety of events were organised for TJC volunteers throughout the year in recognition of the invaluable support they provide to the museum.
CELEBRATE AT THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION | SUPPORTERS & CHAMPIONS END OF YEAR EVENT
22 November 2018
20TH ANNIVERSARY OF TJC VOLUNTEER PROGRAM | | GOVERNMENT HOUSE VICTORIA
21 May 2019
VOLUNTEER GUIDE TRAINING AFTERNOONS
Training days enable volunteer guides to learn about and practise their presentations for each new exhibition. This year Guide Training Days were held on 27 September 2018 for HOME made GOOD | Christmas at The Johnston Collection 2018/2019; and on 14 February 2019 for OBJECT LESSONS | William Johnston: His Residence & Collection
VOLUNTEER INFORMATION SHARING DAYS
An Information Sharing Day for all volunteers including Trustees, Ambassadors, The Friends of The Johnston Collection Committee, Volunteer Guides, Volunteers and staff was held on 14 March 2019.
image credit: Her Excellency The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, presenting a certificate of appreciation to Judith Williams, Trustee, WR Johnston Trust, at the 20th Anniversary of TJC Volunteers event held at Government House Victoria, May 2019
The Johnston Collection produced more than 38 publications, videos, catalogues and essays this year. These included:
fairhall issues # 24 (July 2018), # 25 (October 2018) and # 26 (March 2019); and three edited videos capturing each exhibition: PATTERNS OF COLLECTING | House of Ideas series 2018; HOME made GOOD | Christmas at the Johnston Collection 2018|19; and OBJECT LESSONS| William Johnston: His Residence & Collection.
TJC also distributed more than 60 e-newsletters to its subscribers throughout the year, keeping them informed about programs and events at the museum.
The Johnston Collection gained Accreditation by the Australian Museum and Galleries Association Victoria this year. This milestone was achieved through the hard work of a dedicated team at TJC who, over a period of more than two years, developed the procedures, policies and practice to meet recognised museum standards. The Accreditation panel were particularly impressed by our temporary exhibition programs and our lecture series, and commended the museum for it’s pioneering co-curation model.
A formal presentation of our Accreditation certificate signed by the Hon Martin Foley MP, Minister for Creative Industries, was made at the 2019 Victorian Museum Awards held on 26 June 2019 at the National Gallery of Victoria.
image credit: Harriet Shing MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Creative Industries (right), presenting a Museums Accreditation certificate to Louis Le Vaillant, Director | Curator of The Johnston Collection photography Simon Fox
This year The Johnston Collection Shop had a profit drop of 5.6% over the previous year, from $71,388 in 2018 to $67,362 in 2019 with shop sales contribution to overall revenue falling from 5% last year (2018) to 4% in 2019.