I have to confess that I had never visited Old Government House in Parramatta before the opening of at home: Modern Australian Design on 11th November. David Clark was curating an exhibition of work from some of Australia’s best designers within the permanent collection of this historic house, and I knew that it would be interesting. In fact I was blown away on a number of counts.
Firstly, Old Government House itself – set in the Domain, Parramatta Park which is a World Heritage site – is a wonderful example of simple Georgian architecture – it was the ‘country home’ for the first 10 Governors of NSW dating from 1799.
Secondly, the house hosts a nationally important collection of late Georgian furniture and design from this early period in Australia’s colonial history. Well cared for by the National Trust, the rooms reflect the taste and lives of Governor and Mrs Macquarie amongst others.
And then, David Clark’s exhibition of the work of 21st Century Australian designers, which he has inserted into the permanent collection. It’s a triumph! Unexpected, witty and intelligent juxtaposition of beautiful, quirky and sometimes, odd objects somehow seem at home in this setting.
If you only go to one exhibition this year – let this be it! History and contemporary design all in one.