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					    Australian Modernities Vernacular Performers and Consumers
                                International Conference

                                    5 - 7 December 2006
                               The University of Queensland
                               St. Lucia, Brisbane, Australia


PRESENTER:

Dr Susan Wood – Charles Sturt University

TITLE:

A forgotten contribution: Ann Gillmore Rees and the teaching of modern design
in Sydney

ABSTRACT:

Accounts of the development of craft and design in New South Wales identify a variety of
ways in which concepts of modernity were translated from Britain to Australia but none of
them discuss the role played by Ann Gillmore Rees. Ann Gillmore Rees studied at the
Central School of Art in the nineteen twenties and subsequently earned a living as a teacher
and designer in London. As well as working as an illustrator, she designed for Joyce
Clissold’s Footprints Studio which produced modernist textiles for dress and furnishings. In
the late 1930s Ann Gillmore Rees migrated to Australia where, through her work as a
designer for Marion Best Fabrics and, later, her teaching of design, she influenced many
Australian women artists and designers, including Marion Hall Best, Dora Sweetapple, Joan
Law Smith and Margaret Oppen. One of her contributions to the development of craft and
design in Sydney was to establish the curriculum and act as the first principal of a craft
training school run the by Society of Arts and Crafts of NSW between 1947 and 1951. In this
paper I discuss the role played by Ann Rees in promoting modern design among upper middle
class women in New South Wales through her teaching and design work, with a particular
focus on textiles. I also explore briefly the reasons why both Ann Gillmore Rees and the
Society of Arts and Crafts of New South Wales’ craft training school have ‘disappeared’ from
standard accounts of the history of art and craft in Australia.

PRESENTER’S BIOGRAPHY:

Sue Wood is a Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture at Charles Sturt University in
Wagga Wagga. She is also a practising textile artist, with a Masters degree in Visual Art.
Her PhD thesis, recently submitted at RMIT University, is titled ‘Creative embroidery in New
South Wales, 1960 – 1975’. She is particularly interested in the links between British and
Australian textiles and embroidery in the twentieth century and in recovering the stories of
‘forgotten’ embroiderers. She will spend Spring 2006 further investigating the life and work
of Ann Gillmore Rees in Britain and Australia.

				
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