The Johnston Collection

Fabricating The World: Fortuny silks and Ottoman carpets in one of Melbourne’s Grandest Mansions

Uncover the legacy of Louisa Jones on the interiors of Melbourne's Rippon Lea Eastate


Event Details



Event Starts

Aug 8, 2024 14:00

Event Ends

Aug 8, 2024 15:30


The Johnston Collection


192 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne VIC, Australia

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in 1903, the property changed hands twice until it was inherited in 1935 by Louisa Jones who set about modernising the outdated interiors in keeping with the style she saw in Hollywood movies of the time.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.

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