Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dr Skyring in the library with a Powerhouse

The Powerhouse is one of those lovely old buildings where you feel the presence of the people who were in it originally. If these walls could talk they'd tell stories of gruelling work and noise and smoky air in the time of the original power workers. The era that saw it used as a graffiti producing, homeless sheltering, rave venue may have experienced the same- noise, smoky air and challenging logistics. How did they ever get up to those high wall tops to make some of that graffiti?

It seems you can now go on a tour of the Powerhouse which is well worth the visit. There is a treasure trove of amazing artwork hidden in the non public spaces of the building. Some are backstage, others are in mouldering corridors in the basement. How dark and creepy would this have been when it was an abandoned building? Did they have torches, generators, exorcists? There is, of course, a ghost story which is gruesomely industrial and lots of other little secrets that you don't normally see.

This tiny door is high up in the building and was used for managers to keep an overseeing eye on the workers down below. You have to love a secret door especially in ghostly green. This one would look quite at home in any horror movie that a sneaky 13 year old might try to watch with his friends in your house on a Saturday night. (Just saying....I know what you've been watching, Fish Boy.)

Creepy clowns are also present while we're touching on the whole horror genre. This is an enormous example of Anthony Lister's work. It is high up on the roof where they have now incorporated a stunning terrace with views across the river to Bulimba. It can be hired for functions. I'm thinking my Dad's birthday next year if I win Lotto or inherit from a long lost relative. 

Meanwhile a mere ferry ride away there is this little gem of an exhibition on at the Southbank library.

It shows so much of what is quirky and special about Brisbane and it's development in the mid- 20th century. There is a selection of lovely furniture, much of which is on loan from local collectors. I could have enjoyed a few devils on horseback and a martini in this mock up living room quite easily. Perhaps a mid century snack bar could be incorporated next time. 

The most mouthwatering part of the exhibition for me was the drawings though. Long before CAD and digital graphics were around, designers used paper and pens and paint. The examples of these plans are mouth wateringly lovely to look at. There are huge books with drawings and plans of once futuristic buildings, exquisitely rendered. I think this one was once the main admin building at Queensland University. Maybe it still is. It's been a while.

Imagine a time where plans for a building or landscape portrayed not only the features of the space but the personalities of the clients. 
Note Dr Skyring's casual yet stylish group of friends conversing about music, life and a perfect world with nary an iphone in sight. There is a water feature and modern sculpture with the ladies sitting together and men slightly apart. Particularly note Uncle Eric marching into the frame in a jaunty fashion in the top left corner!!! Dr Skyring may well have been a Bond villain given the luxurious features and his name.

Another favourite was this design for a single bedroom. The little details are delightful. There are the cutting edge features like Sputnik legs on the furniture, an innerspring mattress  and a light switch on the desk. Perhaps most telling though is the fact that she has a dedicated, mirrored make up applying area with a token letter writing shelf. All a girl needed really.

The accompanying screen prints are tempting too. 


  1. I love the bottom middle print of the fly-over. My Dad's claim to fame was that he built the Coventry ring road and I'd love this print to remind me of the nights I went with him, aged 10 to 12, to watch the giant girders being lowered into place.

  2. I would love to see the Powerhouse, and the Hot Modernism exhibition at the library in the flesh Annie.
    I couldn't choose - they make a perfect little 'triptych' IMO.
    LOVE the single bedroom design. That would look awesome framed and hung on a wall.

  3. I can't choose, none of the coloured prints really appeal ... but I love the bedroom plan.


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