FABRICATING THE WORLD SERIES | Fortuny silks and Ottoman carpets in one of Melbourne’s Grandest Mansions with Susan Scollay

Thursday 8 Aug 2024, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

The Fabricating the World series explores three examples of the impact of textiles from the Islamic world on interior decoration and fashion in Europe from the 16th century to the present day.  Robust trade connections and artistic exchange between Europe and the East have been documented by merchants as far back as the 11th century in Fatimid Egypt. Such exchanges increased in the Middle Ages and especially during the Renaissance when material culture from the Middle East in particular had a major aesthetic impact on European art and fashion.

The mansion at Melbourne’s Rippon Lea Estate was completed in 1868 for Frederick Sargood who had commissioned the prominent architects Reed and Barnes to design him a house and garden that would showcase his gold-rush wealth and house his large family of nine children.  After Sargood’s death in 1903, the property changed hands twice until it was inherited in 1935 by Louisa Jones who set about modernising the outdated interiors in keeping with the style she saw in Hollywood movies of the time. This lecture reviews the changes she made, focusing on the soft furnishings employed in the luxurious refurbishment and highlighting the exotic combination of eastern carpets and Fortuny fabrics used in the transformation of the dining room.

Susan Scollay is an art historian specialising in Islamic art and architecture and in historic textiles. She is an elected fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and honorary fellow in art history and curatorship at the University of Melbourne. She has been a regular speaker at The Johnston Collection since 2007 and has convened the Fabricating the World textile series since 2018.

Lectures in the Fabricating the World Series can be booked separately, and you are welcome to attend one, two, or all three. If you would like to attend another lecture in the series, please book using the links below:

Thursday 11 July 2024 | Ottoman and Persian textiles in Eastern Europe

Thursday 25 July | ‘The only proof of true love’: Kashmir and Paisley shawls in the era of Jane Austen

Your ticket includes tea or Market Lane coffee served before the lecture, and time to browse our exclusive range of books, gifts, and homewares at TJC Emporium.  NOTE: Tickets for this event do not include access to our exhibition-house, Fairhall. Guided tours of the current exhibition can be booked separately.

This lecture is supported by The Colin Holden Charitable Trust.


The dining room after redecoration in the 1930s, Rippon Lea Estate, Melbourne, National Trust of Victoria.

Book Tickets

Adult $20.00

$ 20.00 ea

Student/Concession $18.00

$ 18.00 ea