The Johnston Collection
Year in Review
2019 - 2020
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: detail of William Johnston outside 14 King William Walk, Greenwich (date unknown) photograph by and courtesy of Laurie Carew. Image manipulation by Hannah Kerr | The Letter Q
JANET LAURENCE |The Palm At The End Of The Mind*
House of Ideas project series 2019
(8 July 2019 - 7 September 2019)
Janet Laurence is one of Australia’s most celebrated contemporary artists and in THE PALM AT THE END OF THE MIND* she explored The Johnston Collection alongside her own creative multi-disciplinary practices of sculpture, installation, photography, and video. The exhibition highlighted the fragility of the natural world and the interconnectedness of all living things, and the challenges facing our environment. In THE PALM AT THE END OF THE MIND* Laurence used William Johnston’s own collecting and gathering from around the world and his love of gardens and gardening, to underpin and reflect her ideas.
Along with regular guided tours, a series of 'Walk & Talk' tours with the artist, Janet Laurence, were conducted where she took visitors through Fairhall, discussing her work and the inspiration and processes behind the exhibition
*The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens ©1967, 1969, 1971 by Holly Stevens
This exhibition was supported by the Besen Family Foundation, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and The Friends of The Johnston Collection.
image credit: JANET LAURENCE | The Palm At The End Of The Mind, Photography Adam Luttick, Luts Photography
A BOY'S OWN STORY
(30 September 2019 - 4 February 2020)
A BOY’S OWN STORY | Summer at The Johnston Collection 2019|20 featured the work of contemporary artists and makers, Douglas McManus; Chris O'Brien; Troy Emery; Noel Button; Lucas Grogan; Tristan Brumby-Rendell; Kevin Smith; Luke Hockley; Steve Campbell-Wright; David Pearce; Terry Williams; Trevor Smith; and David Collyer, alongside the posthumous work of A. Keith Collyer (1917-1983), Archibald Collyer (1883-1939). Edward John Scollay (1917–1985); and George Compeigne Campbell (1917-2007).
This exhibition challenged the view that men can’t knit or sew by showing the work of men who work and excel in craft mediums that are traditionally associated with women.
A BOY’S OWN STORY was supported by The Friends of The Johnston Collection.
Chris O’Brien and Terry Williams are represented by Arts Project Australia, Melbourne.Trevor Smith is represented by Michael Reid Sydney
image credit: Lucas Grogan, A Dawn Quilt, 2019 and Two Pillowcases FIGHT and FLIGHT, 2019, Photography Adam Luttick, Luts Photography
AN INTERIOR LIFE
WILLIAM JOHNSTON: His Residence & Collection
(17 February – 20 November 2020)
AN INTERIOR LIFE | William Johnston & His Collection recreated the “English Country House style” inspired by the interiors of the great English designers, Sybil Fowler and John Colefax of Colefax and Fowler, London.
Unfortunately, the exhibition was closed just four weeks after opening due to the first Melbourne lockdown due to COVID-19. However, a virtual tour of the exhibition was uploaded to our YouTube channel a fortnight later and over the next few months, the video was viewed by tens of thousands of people from all around the world.
image credit: detail Fairhall The Green Room (as restaged for AN INTERIOR LIFE) photography Adam Luttick, Luts Photography
LECTURES & STUDY SERIES
Because of the COVID-19 lockdown our lectures and talks program was disrupted in the second half of the year. However, despite the interruption, we were still able to present more than 40 events in 2020 including lectures (both on-site and virtual), walks and talks, a book launch, as well as community events, Open House Melbourne and Government House Open Day.
See Appendix 5 for a full list of our 2020 Lectures and Study Series program.
image credit: image: Jacopo Amigoni (Italian, 1682-1752)
Portrait of the Soprano Carlo Broschi, known as Il Farinelli, 1752
Oil on canvas, 1252 x 1045 mm
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, acquired with lottery funds 1972, 3163
STUDY SERIES | FABRICATING THE WORLD | SERIES 2
A six-part study series presented by Cresside Collette, Rebecca Evans, Susan Scollay, and Margot Yeoman, exploring the evolution of textiles.
image credit: Ateliers de la Marche, detail from Millefleurs à la Licorne, Aubusson region, France, 15th century (Thought to be the first woven unicorn)
VON REISBERG STUDY SERIES | PHILLIP THE UNKNOWN | ANCESTORS AND FAMILY OF THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH THROUGH THEIR PORTRAITS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Eugene Barilo Von Reisberg, lecturer, researcher, and art consultant presented two lectures exploring the family of the Duke of Edinburgh through portraits and photographs.
image credit: Philip de Laszlo (1867-1937), Portrait of Olga, Queen of the Hellenes (née Grand Duchess of Russia; grand-mother of the Duke of Edinburgh), 1914, Oil on canvas, Private Collection.
VAMFF ARTS PROGRAM SERIES 2020
The Johnston Collection was a participant in the VAMFF Arts Program Series 2020 with a series of five lectures exploring contemporary and historical
image credit: Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, 2019. Photograph by Marinco Kojdanovski
Jenny and Linda modelling outfits designed by Linda Jackson, Bondi Beach, 1976. Photograph by Annie Noon
In response to the COVID-19 Melbourne lockdown and the cancellation of on-site lectures, TJC initiated virtual lectures. The first of these were presented by Susannah Fullerton, writer and President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia and Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, which focused on English literary figures.
image credit: still from Tess of the D'Urbervilles, BBC (2008)
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 on any given day.
This year The Johnston Collection welcomed 4292 visitors. Of these, 2189 visited exhibitions in Fairhall, another 650 attended lectures and study series (both on-site and virtual). A further 869 people attended special events at TJC while another 584 people attended TJC events off-site. [See Appendix 2]
Overall, visitor numbers were only 2.9% lower than the previous year despite reduced visitation due to the Melbourne COVID-19 lockdown. The introduction of virtual lectures without caps on attendance as required by our planning permit for on-site lectures, meant that TJC could maintain visitor numbers with only a slight drop over the previous year.
ENGAGING WITH COMMUNITIES
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 2019 | THIS IS PUBLIC
27 - 28 July 2019
VICTORIAN SENIORS FESTIVAL 2019
GOVERNMENT HOUSE OPEN DAY 2020
26 January 2020
VIRGIN AUSTRALIA MELBOURNE FASHION FESTIVAL ARTS PROGRAM 2020
5 – 13 March 2020
THE FRIENDS OF THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION EVENTS
The Friends of The Johnston Collection is an active organisation supporting the work of 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.
In 2020 The Friends Committee organised a number of social, educational, and fundraising activities for members over the year. Unfortunately, many of their activities were cancelled due to COVID-19 and the Melbourne lockdown in 2020.
See Appendix 6 for a full list of The Friends events in 2020 and Appendix 10 for a full list of The Friends donations.
A variety of events were organised for TJC volunteers throughout the year in recognition of the invaluable support they provide to the museum. Unfortunately, some of the activities were cancelled or postponed due to the Melbourne lockdown due to COVID-19 in 2020.
AMBASSADORS ANNUAL LUNCH | THE JOHNSTON COLLECTION
8 August 2019
VOLUNTEERS DAY OUT | FORTUNA VILLA, BENDIGO
21 November 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 4 July 2019 for JANET LAURENCE: THE PALM AT THE END OF THE MIND; 26 September 2019 for A BOY’S OWN STORY | Summer at The Johnston Collection 2019|20 and on 13 February 2020 for AN INTERIOR LIFE | William Johnston & His Collection
image credit: Volunteer Guides attend Guide Training Day, February 2020
The Johnston Collection's exhibition HOUSE OF DREAMS | Barking Spider Visual Theatre (12 July 2016 – 20 September 2016) was the WINNER of the 2019 Excellence Award from Interpretation Australia.
image credit: Fairhall: The Yellow Room (as curated by Barking Spider Visual Theatre) photographyAdam Luttick, Luts Photography
The Johnston Collection produced a number of publications, videos, catalogues and essays in 2020. These included:
fairhall issues # 27 (July 2019), # 28 (October 2019) and # 29 (March 2020); and three edited videos capturing each exhibition: JANET LAURENCE: THE PALM AT THE END OF THE MIND; A BOY’S OWN STORY | Summer at The Johnston Collection 2019|20; and AN INTERIOR LIFE | William Johnston & His Collection.
TJC also distributed more than 80 e-newsletters throughout the year. E-newsletters became particularly important in 2020 as it enabled TJC to keep subscribers and members regularly connected with the museum during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Johnston Collection SHOP had a profit drop of 9% from the previous year, from $67,362 in 2019 to $61,042 in 2020. However, SHOP sales contribution to TJC’s overall revenue was 6%, an increase of 2% over the previous year. This was a result of a reduction in income from other revenue streams due to the impact of COVID-19.
Online SHOP sales increased significantly in the last quarter of the year during the Melbourne lockdown, with new stock added and strong marketing of the SHOP through e-newsletters and social media. The museum’s best-selling item was TJC’s own product line of facemasks made in Melbourne for TJC.
The Johnston Collection’s OPENING DOORS Fundraising Appeal was launched in May 2015 by Akira Isogawa, with the aim of raising funds to secure the museum for future generations.
In 2020 the OPENING DOORS campaign raised $26,706, bringing the overall fundraising total over the past five years to $579,109. In 2020 The Johnston Collection received donations from 285 individuals and philanthropic organisations, 71 of which were new donors. (See Appendix 9 for a full list of OPENING DOORS donors).
This year OPENING DOORS funds were used to curate three new exhibitions, present more than 40 events including onsite and virtual lectures, to publish the Collection online, create the virtual tour TJC360°, and refresh the exterior of Fairhall.
image credit: Chris and Chelsea live in this house, Melbourne, 2019 detail from ‘THE BLUE ROOM | CHRIS O’BRIEN’ as part of A BOY'S OWN STORY | Summer at The Johnston Collection 2019|20 (30 September 2019 - 4 February 2020). Chris O’Brien is represented by Arts Project Australia
image | Adam Luttick, Luts Photography