Harriet Edquist: Thanks very much for inviting me to give this talk. Just a word of warning. When I was thinking about what I would talk about there were a couple of issues that have come out of curating the exhibition; I thought I’d talk about those because they are ‘further research’ sort of areas that I’m taking the research I did for the exhibition.
As I’ve said to people before, when I was asked to curate the exhibition, the 19th century isn’t, or wasn’t at that stage, an area really of my research focus; I normally work in the 20th and 21st century. So it was a bit of a challenge; however, it brought me deep into Melbourne’s 19th-century history and I’ve got a bit hooked, I have to say.
There are a couple of themes that I am developing up, one of which is the big theme of the building of the whole site and how and to what extent that was modeled around the South Kensington museum – which is now the V&A in London – and other London institutions and what it actually meant for the culture of Melbourne. The second theme is really trying to extract some sense out of a very confused research that exists around Edward La Trobe Bateman.
So, they were the two themes I was going to talk about today but as I started working on the research I’ve ditched the first one and I’ll just tell you my latest thinking about the second one, which is really about Edward La Trobe Bateman and the relationship between him and Joseph Reed. That relationship, in the end, has got me completely and utterly confused and also really interested. So, if you don’t mind, I’m just going to say where – and this is very architectural and designed so I hope, I’m not quite sure, I couldn’t really gauge how much you would know about that, so I’m just hoping you know something that will help you interpret what I’m saying. I haven’t got any answers for this, this is just really a sprint through where the research is up to and I’m hoping you might have some answers. You might have some dates floating around from somewhere. We’d love some dates related to Bateman.
Anyway, these are the two people that I’ll be talking about: Joseph Reed, the architect and Edward La Trobe Bateman, the designer. I call them the odd couple because in the ADB when you read Reed’s biography they end up by saying ‘Reed was likened to an Australian terrier, he was liable …’ he was a little bloke too, a little Cornishman, ‘ … he was liable to snap up at you with sudden violence and then forget all he had said and was helpful and kind.’ Another recalled him ‘as practical and decisive, an aggressive little fellow but very kindly.’ The ‘kindly’ is important I think.
Bateman, on the other hand, was considered to be tall and lanky. He was described as ‘odd-looking, with long red hair and a beard. He had gentle but determined ways and picturesquely humorous denunciation of inartistic things.’ He was obviously a dreamer. So here you have this tough little Cornishman who founded the most prolific and successful architectural practice in Melbourne in the 19th century, and the dreamer. Somehow they came together to produce really interesting work, but who was responsible for what remains a bit of an issue.
Just by way of preface, my research on Bateman is very much dependent on the amazing research that Anne Neale did from the late 1990s while she was doing a PhD on Bateman. Anyone working on Bateman goes back to Anne’s numerous published articles and I just want to acknowledge the fact that I really, while I don’t necessarily follow all her thinking, I certainly have based my research on Anne’s pioneering work. She actually was the person who dragged Bateman out of the historical shadows and really made him into a figure of some interest.
So, what I’m going to do is, how long do I speak for? So I’ve divided it into four sections and I’ll introduce Reed and Bateman and then I’ll try to talk about their projects together and try to make some sense out of those and why they may or may not be important.
Joseph Reed was born in Cornwall. He came from a really good family. He was well-educated. He went to a school that was, whether or not this was a good thing, run by the brother of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It emphasized languages and art and apparently he was good at both. He also had interest in paleontology and botany which I think is interesting. The other thing, that I will probably forget to tell you, because I tend to forget things, is that he was also a musician. He was a very good violinist. He was known as a musician in Melbourne. This was a man who, while people who write about him in the architectural history always talk about his pragmatism, aggressiveness, competitiveness and his architectural aggression, you have a man here of very wide talents and sympathies. I think this is important for his relationship with Bateman.
When he was 17 or 18 he was commissioned to draw a very large survey map of Tregothnan in Cornwall and he filled it in with a lot of figures and animals, so he’s also a good delineator. He went off to London to train as an architect in the office of Thomas Bellamy, who seems to have been fairly ordinary, but the 1840s in London was by no means an ordinary place. I’m not going to go into the history of architecture in London at this time but just to one figure who was very influential for those coming out to Melbourne in ’51, ’52 after gold was discovered. This was Charles Barry. He’s known mainly for his Italianate architecture, his great palazzos which line the streets of London and Manchester. The interesting thing about Barry is he also got the commission to design the new Houses of Parliament when the old one burned down in 1834. He teamed up with a great Goth, AWN Pugin. Pugin did all the Gothic stuff and Barry did the very classical planning and the rest of it. So that’s really quite interesting, where the Gothic comes into its own, not only as an architectural style for religion but for secular buildings. This is the period, very broadly, where you have, not so much the battle of the stars because they co-exist, and in someone like Reed’s office they co-existed, Gothic and Classical.
He went back to Tregothnan after his training and in the late ‘40s, early ‘50s he was working for the Earl of Falmouth who owned Tregothnan. He stayed as the estate architect, not quite sure what he did, but towards the end of his stay there in 1852 Falmouth, almost the last thing he built before he died was a music room. I’m tempted to think that Reed might have had something to do with the design of that music room. However, you’re not allowed in there to look at their archives so that will probably never be known if he did do that. The other thing about this estate is that it had a botanical gardens and arboretum and I think that that will be important later on. He worked there until 1852 when the Earl of Falmouth died. His successor dismissed Reed and Reed set forth to Australia, possibly, like many Cornishmen, he headed off to Adelaide but he ended up in Port Philip.
And no longer, no sooner here that within a few months he had responded to the call for the Public Library, for the competition and that he, in the 1st of November 1853 he handed in his submission and he won, and that is his first building. So the only thing I want to say about this is, if that’s his first palladium, relatively simple, you can see it comes out of that Charles Barry sort of classicism that was used for public buildings in England, it’s a reasonably modest example of the type. You can see the thinking that he’s coming from, although William Wilkins’ National Gallery didn’t have its dome at that stage, but it did have the portico and the wings and clearly the Library’s quite similar. But it’s similar to another building, with a few buildings of the type.
But it’s interesting by 1858 Reed had already extended it, he had the two north and south pavilion wings there, this is a picture of what it might look like. The north wing wasn’t finished until 1962 or something, so this is you know, a sort of a utopian view. We have the tympanum filled with sculpture which still hasn’t happened and we have the acroteria with all the sculptures on the top and this formal garden which still hasn’t happened, out the front. So that was a view of the latest of his, he kept revising it and this is a project, a continuous project by 1858 – and this is the key moment because what happened in, around about this time, 1858–59 the trustees decided to go for it, they became extremely ambitious. And even in the very earliest building, we know by the Reed letter that’s in the exhibition that when he wrote to Barry, Redmond Barry who was chair of the trustees and he said, here is my exhibition entry, it’s a very, you know, the building will be extremely flexible, the library is on the top floor, the bottom floor can have an area for offices, but a museum … and he also had a place for a picture gallery. It was always going to be a multi-intuitional building, it was never going to be just a library.
So they got completely above themselves by about 1858–59 and they asked the government for a grant of land that extended back to Russell Street, which is what they’d always wanted. Then they commissioned Reed to produce a master plan for the entire site, which he did. [Off-topic comments]
So this is Swanston Street here, this is the Library, and the idea was to complete, this is a rectangle with another library here and two wings here and then there would be a square building behind it, this is Russell Street here and that would hold the museums, the galleries and the painting and design schools. So it was a museum, gallery and library complex on a very grand scale.
And this is the way it was visualised by Nicholas Chevalier who was part of the circle of educated people that circulated around La Trobe, Barry, Reed I think was probably part of it too, particularly with his musical interests – Chevalier, Bateman, and so forth. And this is really, I mean we know this image well but it’s really a remarkable image. This is the future that Melbourne had envisaged for itself. It hadn’t been separated from New South Wales for terribly long. You had this entire block taken up with a cultural institution that is open to everyone, it’s not exclusive or elite. This is for the artisan to come and learn how to be a more skilled artisan, it’s to train people. And you have the city sort of here, it is in fact an acropolis, and I think, there was nothing like it. Even the South Kensington museum hadn’t got a master plan by this stage and was still pottering around in makeshift buildings. So this is really an amazing image and I think it says an awful lot about Melbourne, post-gold Melbourne and that excitement of the ‘50s. It say a lot about the trustees and what they actually saw this building as; and this is what was really new to me, I had no idea about this, and I think it’s one of the, it’s sort of almost like a foundational image. When we think about Melbourne we think about the way it projected itself into the future which it constantly does, I mean it’s doing the same with Flinders Street Station competition as we speak. And this was a similar sort of thing – how can we envisage the future? Well you do it like this, you build an enormous free, secular institution for the people so that they can keep learning.
So that takes us up to, that’s what Reed was doing at the Library. He was doing a hell of a lot of other things, he was building lots of stuff all round the place up till 1859, 1860. So we’ll go back and we’ll just track through Bateman and see what he was doing.
Now he was born in Yorkshire, I think it was, in 1816, and I’ve just got this off the web. He was the son of John Bateman who was a financially unsuccessful inventor, but everyone points not to the father who disappears from view, but to his mother who came from the La Trobe family and they’re of course extremely eminent and he counts as uncles and cousins and so forth Benjamin La Trobe, of course who was the famous American architect; the English-German composer John Frederick La Trobe and his brother Frederick who was one of the great, possibly the most eminent hydraulic engineer in 19th-century England. And another brother Henry who was a hymnologist and of course Charles Joseph who was here as lieutenant governor, so he came from a very distinguished family of wide and broad sympathies and interests.
But the thing about Edward is he is incredibly elusive. So he was born in 1816 and we really don’t know much about him until the 1840s when he was in his 30s, when he fetches up in London in the office of Owen Jones. And Owen Jones was one of the great design reformers of 19th-century England. Like a lot of the design reformers he was an architect, he was trained in architecture which tends to be the discipline that design reform comes out of, no matter what sort of design it is. But after he was articled and he completed his articles, he went on a long tour of Eastern Europe, North Africa and Spain and he got completely entranced with Islamic architecture and in the 1830s he wrote a book on the Alhambra. And what really interested him was the idea of architectural polychrome, or coloured architecture. In this instance, colour that is introduced into architecture through the materials of architecture, so you use marbles or bricks or whatever it is, it’s actually built into the material fabric, this sort of highly coloured architecture. Because if you think of Regency England, despite the Prince Regent and the Brighton Pavilion, it’s basically stucco, it’s fairly tedious. So what he’s interested in is the way in which you can introduce colour into architecture.
At the same time he set up his office and he became an expert in chromolithography, he published a lot of very high quality, luscious sort of books and in this he was helped by Bateman. Bateman also worked with him on his illustrated books and on other illustrated projects. Bateman seems to have joined forces with an architect from Leeds called Corson on an interior refit of this building here that was apparently under the direction of Owen Jones and he worked with John Millais, and of course Millais was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. And so from very early period of his work, from the late ‘40s in Owen’s office, Bateman did become friends of the Brotherhood. But what we know from, particularly his work in the ‘40s, it’s not a lot, are the books that he helped Owen to publish and he is credited with the design of this book, in fact a number of books by Mary Bacon. And this sort of stylised naturalism that was really his forte, this is very, very much a Bateman design as you’ll see, is the sort of thing he was producing.
So he’s working as a designer, but a designer who comes out of the school of thinking that looks to nature. They’re very influenced by the theorist John Ruskin, who said ‘you always have to go back to nature, nature will show you,’ so that is what he’s doing. Owen Jones was commissioned to design cards for a particular card manufacturer, and these are some of his designs. Now on the web I found these three designs on the right, attributed to Jones and they were done for the royal family but I think it’s quite clear they’re Bateman’s designs. And I think that shows you the difference between the two. At this stage Jones was far more abstract, he’d managed to abstract the naturalistic ornament, so became designer, became pure pattern. Bateman hadn’t got there yet, he was still committed to a design which still showed a certain element of naturalism.
But in 1851 Jones was commissioned to design the interiors of the Great Exhibition, probably the most famous interior space, visited by 6.5 million people, of the 19th century. And he, for that particular space, he introduced his theories of polychrome which he had been developing and here I’m talking about polychromatic interior design, so it’s not actually built into the architecture, it’s painted onto the architecture. So you’ve got the two – one is called structural polychrome and one is sort of an interior design and here he used just the primary colours which he thought were … he was basing his theories for some reason on classical architecture and classical design because, at this period, archeologists had discovered, much to their horror, that classical architecture wasn’t pure white that they thought it was, and that all the Renaissance people thought it was, but it was actually coloured, highly coloured. And so they were developing these theories and this was really avant-garde work and so Jones was using all of the theories he was working out archeologically; looking at ancient examples and also the examples of the Near and Middle East, to develop theories about interior ornament which he applied to the Crystal Palace. But Bateman worked with him and Bateman was recognised as being someone who also contributed to the interior of this, so he’s really mixing it with the big guys.
And while he was there Bateman was working also with Jones on probably Jones’ most famous product which is The grammar of ornament, this enormous volume which we have in the exhibition – and there are an enormous number of them around Melbourne, in fact Eve Sainsbury just told me that Reed’s own copy of this, no sorry Barry’s own copy of this book is apparently in the Melbourne University library, so everyone … Reed had a copy, there was several copies here, Barry bought copies, a copy for the Supreme Court library. It was the most famous book of design theory in the mid-19th century and in it, as you can see it’s very large and Owen Jones went through every culture and looked at their design and tried to extract design principles from it. And in the front of the book he has a number of principles about how you use design, how it should be used. So it wasn’t a copy book, it was really a book about principles and theories and Bateman worked on this with him and in fact Anne Neale showed, which was genius, that he was responsible for these last plates. This is a Bateman drawing that we have in the National Gallery and by comparing it with these last plates, which are very unlike Jones, she concluded that Bateman had worked on those.
Now these are just some of the people that by 1852 Bateman was knocking around with – Millais and in fact Anne Neale, I’m not sure that we can verify this, but she argues that Bateman was very influential in this early period, on the way Millais reproduced nature. Thomas Woolner, a Pre-Raphaelite who ended up by coming to Melbourne with Bateman and another bloke called Bernard Smith, and Ford Maddox Brown who painted this painting as his friends were leaving for Melbourne – this painting was based on Woolner and Smith and Bateman all getting on the boat to go to Melbourne and to emigrate. And another great friend of his was Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, so he knew all of these people and at this stage he was living in a little tiny cottage that big in the Hermitage called the Heritage at Highgate. And after he left, Mary Howett, who was also a friend, who was the wife of William Howett who came out to Melbourne at the same time as these blokes, she moved in there. So there are all these sort of incredible networks; the Hermitage will come up again in our conversation if I get there.
Okay, so Bateman’s out in Melbourne, he goes to the diggings with William Howett and he earns some money actually sketching the diggings. But he comes back to Melbourne and he falls out with William Howett, he fell out with quite a few people, but he latches onto Godfrey Howett who seems to have from then on been his protector. Because one of the things I sort of discovered about Bateman is that he was really one of those people who was incapable of conducting his own professional office. He always either worked in an office with someone else who was successful and he always sort of had a protector or someone who could sort of look after him, so he sort of more or less lived with the Godfrey Howetts, either in their Collins Street house or down at Cape Schanck.
So that’s where he was in Melbourne and at the same time his cousin, Charles La Trobe, was just leaving Melbourne and he commissioned Bateman to produce all of these exquisite sketches of his little house, Jolimont, the first government abode that we have. And what’s interesting about these is the way Bateman really treats them and you can see he’s got this Pre-Raphaelite love of nature, in fact people have identified the plants that he shows, but when we look at the architecture, you can see the picturesque coming out, you can see the qualities of architecture that he really loves. The honesty of it, the handmade-ness of it, this all comes out of sort of Gothic theory and the theories of John Ruskin, his writings about architecture: architecture should be organic, it should come up from the earth, it should show the mark of the human hand, you should put in windows and doors where you need them, not where classical theory tells you to put them. And you can see this sort of idea coming through the way that Bateman actually describes this building.
And he went down to Cape Schanck where Howett had a property, and he seems to have shared a bungalow there with the state manager Robert Anderson. I’m not sure if this is the bungalow, but this is one of his lovely sketches of bungalows and he in fact was compiling a book of this bush architecture, which he really loved, to publish but it was never published. And in 1856 or thereabouts, when Frederick McCoy was appointed to the first natural history professor at Melbourne University he set about, McCoy set about setting up a systems garden and Bateman was given the job of designing it. As you can see, it is this circular plan and it’s all developed out of a Darwinian theory of selection. And later on, in the ‘60s, this tower was set at the centre of it and around it a conservatory which were built by Reed but there is an argument that Bateman might have designed them. I think the jury’s still out on that but he certainly designed the systems garden and also the grounds of Melbourne University, but how extensive that was I think is another things that’s still open to debate.
By this stage he wasn’t making a living as an artist but he started to make a living as a designer, particularly as a landscape designer, and he was given, through his huge network of very influential friends, a number of commissions to design gardens around Melbourne. As we can see here the Fitzroy Gardens which were never implemented, they were overridden by Clement Hodgkinson who was the half-brother of John Millais, this gets very confusing, the Pre-Raphaelite and who probably knew Bateman in London. And this was, this is Carlton Gardens which got rebuilt by Joseph Reed when he designed the international exhibition building in 1879. But what they show, which I think is interesting, is the way pattern really dominates Bateman’s thinking and I think this is, when we’re trying to work out what he did and didn’t design, this is sort of useful thinking that these garden designs are symmetrical, they’re designed around a central medallion, each edge is a mirror image of each other. They’re designed from probably a gardenesque point of view and if Bateman loved planting then he would design from a gardenesque point of view which showed each plant as it could design, gave it the space to flourish as an individual object. He certainly, in my view, didn’t design for the convenience of the urban dweller, which is where Hodgkinson came in; when he redesigned the Fitzroy Gardens, he protected them against the dust of the street and he designed them with really hardy rows of trees that would survive this sort of fairly harsh urban environment.
So Bateman is really I think using his training as pattern and pattern language when he comes to design these urban gardens. For example, he may well have been influenced by Americans such as the very famous Alexander Jackson Davis whose work was well represented and would have been known in Melbourne, this famous Llewellyn Park, but again Davis was doing something quite different, it appears to be designed according to topography. These are two book covers that Bateman designed around about the same time as the gardens and you can see they’re designed in symmetrical forms around a central medallion in that same pattern language that I think Bateman’s using.
And finally, bringing us up to the 1860-mark where we left Reed in the lurch, they come together. Reed was given the commission to design – I’m sorry, this was in the morning, this morning, it was really overcast – to design the Wesleyan Church, which is an amazingly innovative building. It’s terribly sad that precinct, it’s an incredibly important precinct with the church, the school and the manse really early, really important for a whole precinct design and they’re very interesting buildings. But on the left you can see the site plan which Bateman did, he designed all the planting around it and the garden around it. Now the argument is that he designed the manse for this, for this precinct, but I actually don’t believe that and I’m not sure why an architect as successful as Reed would give over a part of his design to someone who wasn’t an architect, it doesn’t make an enormous amount of sense, but by this stage they were definitely working together.
This is just to give you an idea of, we’ve got a Gothic design on the left and that picturesque curvilinear garden that goes with it. And we have a Classical garden design on the right done at roundabout the same time with this very formal parterre in front of, it’s the Swanston Street frontage. So they’re two different ways that Reed’s office was producing design – you could do the Gothic or you could do the Classic.
Okay, so they come together at the Public Library, now this is what I focused on in the exhibition so I’ll whizz through this. But it is incredibly interesting and Anne Neale again had alerted us to this fact that Reed was given the commission and in his 1854 letter to Barry, which is in the exhibition, he describes the Classical language of Queen’s Hall. It’s very pure, he’s using the best Renaissance sources, he’s showing that he is an architect of education and the interior with its beautiful two rows of white columns would have been modeled on the interior of a temple of course and it was all pure white as the style was at that stage. Now in 1860 Edward La Trobe Bateman was given the job of producing a polychromatic interior, painting over all of this to conform to the latest theories about what the interiors of classical architecture looked like, the theories that Owen Jones had been working on. Now I find this absolutely amazing, that this wasn’t something that Reed had thought about when he designed the building, but in an act of amazing generosity or perhaps he was bullied into it, or perhaps he and Bateman really got on well together and they decided it would be a great lark to do this – anyway, Bateman was given the job to produce an interior decoration for Queen’s Hall which even the Argus at the time said was beautiful, but was highly unusual, no one had done it before. Now, as I say he was basing his ideas on Owen Jones’ theory of classical polychrome and we describe that a bit in the exhibition and here are, with some of the paint scrapes, because underneath the horrors of the 1970s decor upstairs in the Queen’s Hall is Bateman’s 1860s design which we would love to recover.
So he was using Owen Jones as a model but, more importantly, Owen Jones in 1854, when the Crystal Palace closed, that exhibition at Hyde Park closed, they dismantled that enormous building and shifted it to Sydenham. And a company took over the Crystal Palace company and they commissioned Jones and some others to fill up the huge nave with art courts which describe, through casts and painting, the history of architecture and art from the Assyrians through to now pretty well. And amongst all of this was a Pompeiian court, a Greek court and a Roman court and it was these courts that probably were the things that influenced Bateman and Reed most when they were coming to think about the ornamentation of Queen’s Hall. And what’s interesting is these photographs were taken by a bloke called Philip Delamotte in 1854 and there is a complete set in the Library which I bet they bought roundabout that time. Furthermore the Argus has a long description of these courts so everyone knew about it – I was saying the other day at a curatorial talk, Melbourne’s no shrinking violet. It made sure it kept up-to-date with everything that was going on as fast as it could. And so what they are doing is saying, ‘alright, this is what they’re doing in England, they’ve got these art courts – we’re not going to do an art court in an exhibition building, we’re going to do it in a real building, in an urban building, in a really important building, the Library.’ And this apparently is the first time in the world that this has been done because Owen Jones wasn’t given the opportunity to implement his theories about interior design, classical interior design, until about 1864 when he did the interior for Fishmongers Hall in London. And so this is an incredibly important innovation in Melbourne and that’s why we need all the money to restore it.
Then, because this was so successful he got other commissions. He designed the catalogue with his beautiful woodcuts in ‘61 and then in 1866 came the big one, he and Reed combined again to work on the intercolonial exhibition. Now in 1862, Reed, Barry and George Knight, who was the commissioner for the 1866 intercolonial exhibition, all went off to London to look at this exhibition, it was the next great exhibition and Victoria had an absolutely enormous court in it. And this is this building which is noted as totally hideous, designed by Francis Fowke for the exhibition, but the interior is quite similar to what Reed produces for the intercolonial and also for the international exhibition. You can see exhibition building typology starting to emerge and that’s what we find in Melbourne. But they, and at this exhibition Bateman had in fact exhibited some textiles which he had designed with Australian flora on them, probably our very first art textiles ever.
So Reed and Barnes were given the job of designing the intercolonial exhibition to open in 1866 at the back of the Library and it was the way the trustees chose, it was a cunning way of getting a big swadge of their master plan built, in fact the rest of that first rectangle. They thought, ‘okay, we’ll get the foundations done, that will be the buildings for the intercolonial and then we can build in them later on’. And these are the drawings in the exhibition and I didn’t find this until recently, but you can see the two buildings here, and it gives you an idea of what they looked like in the urban setting. So they were quite dominant, you would have been able to see them quite well. And this is, as I say Bateman was given the job to do the interior décor of the great hall, which was huge, and the rotunda. And just this afternoon I was reading the Argus description of the opening ceremony and they were saying, ‘well the hall’s pretty hideous, it’s a bit like Fowke’s 1862 monster in London’. Because it was just a brick building, that’s all Reed was given and he couldn’t do anything else because it was temporary, so everything went into the interior and that’s where Bateman really shone and most, and people like Barry thought he did a much better job than in London, well Barry would, but …
So Bateman again designed, he did all of the interior ornamenting. The roof trusses, he ornamented then divided up the panels and this is the way Jones tells you to do it, into squares into which he then ornamented in a certain way and the colours he uses are the Owen Jones colours, and these are the principles that he was following. This principle here talks about the way how you divide up a large space into panels and then subdivide into panels and each one is ornamented in a certain way and the rotunda which he also ornamented. And this is the really fascinating building because what he does here from the frieze above the columns to the windows, to the ceiling as he produces this allover pattern. Now that’s what happens in the 1870s in interior design and I think probably the sense of different patterns, same sort of tonal ranges but you cover the entire wall with pattern and it becomes that sort of Victorian and done really well it’s what the Victorian reformist designers were doing, but in the 1870s.
I was going to give a lecture on interior design but I don’t know much about it, I’m just learning, but I think this is incredibly important for the history of interior design in Melbourne and I’m starting to think now that in the ‘60s and ‘70s and ‘80s architecture was behind interior design. Interior design was really pushing reform and pushing innovation and architecture was still sort of following Classical sort of ideas and didn’t really get out of that and start producing sort of freestyle architecture until the late 1880s and ‘90s. So these interiors are probably incredibly important if we knew more about them. And of course our lovely visualisations which we commissioned for the exhibition and what they did, this studio did, was they chose a moment in the rotunda when it was, in the 1880s, when it was used as a sculpture hall, because that shows you the form of it. But it also shows you Bateman coloured this violet, I mean it’s completely radical, who paints, you know, important buildings violet? And then the moment they chose to visualise was the 1869 art exhibition that was held in the great hall. So these are visualisations of the exhibition but of other moments when these buildings were used, because they were used for the next forty years and finally came down when they built the domed reading room.
So now I think my theory, in so far as I’ve got one, is that this work with Reed really developed Bateman as a designer, as he developed with Owen Jones in the Owen Jones office but he was distinct from Owen Jones, he certainly designed differently. He then worked with Reed and I think that really shifted his design forward because we found this, this was attributed … so this was a bit of a find for the exhibition and it’s an illuminated address that was given to one of the commissioners at the exhibition and it’s absolutely sensational; it’s pure Owen Jones if you like. I mean it’s abstract, it’s eclectic, it’s incredibly knowledgeable about its use of eastern and western and medieval ornament brought together in this fantastic sort of reviewer display of design. And this is an earlier, not that much earlier, address that I also think he designed; but you can see the huge shift in sophistication and I think that comes through collaborating with Reed, collaborating with people who are very sophisticated and people who had been to England in 1862 and had seen what was what.
So that brings me to the last section of this talk and I try to tease out some of these ideas incredibly unsuccessfully. So I’ve mentioned that when we’re talking about the architectural collaborations between them because Bateman seemed to have moved into architecture in the ‘60s. He has been credited with working on the Clement Hodgkinson house in Hotham Street, East Melbourne, and as I say the manse at the Wesleyan school because of the use of a sort of flattish Gothic arch. I actually don’t think that’s true, I think these are Reed designs but you can see … I mean the interesting thing about the manse compared with the church is it’s domestic, because someone lived in it. So it’s quite different in style from the church and that domestic styling with the barge boards and so forth is taken up into the, very unusual for a town house, a face brick bluestone town house for Clement Hodgkinson.
But then we have this building which you know is enough to drive you completely nutty. It’s, and you might been down there, I actually haven’t visited it, but it’s Heronswood and of course it’s known as the home of the Diggers, plant people. And it was built for Professor William Hearn and Bateman and Reed. Reed by 1858 had become the university architect and they kept that job right through the 19th century, obviously through Barry. So there was this network of very learned, really interesting people that Bateman and Reed were working for. So apparently the first, in about 1864 a little timber cottage, the first timber cottage was built on this site and then gradually these wings were built. This was later, this was built after Bateman left the colony in 1869 and we have this building which is not Joseph Reed. So it was probably designed by Bateman, but why? Why would someone ask Bateman to design a building, because he wasn’t an architect, and also he didn’t have an office, he didn’t have control of draftsmen or contractors or anyone like that, so clearly it was and we know it was produced out of Reed’s office. Because at this stage Bateman had a desk in Reed’s office but we don’t know what he did there. And the interesting thing is that he didn’t earn any money as far as I can see, so I’m just wondering if in fact he was a draftsman for Reed, I don’t know. But when you actually think about how Bateman sort of lived, it’s quite hard to work out where his finances came from.
But anyway this is very much, this is a really, really fascinating building; it’s still in the Gothic Revival mode although the arches aren’t very, the windows aren’t very pointed and it’s quite rugged and all of this contrast material here is really bulky and rugged in much more than Reed ever did in his architecture. And that seems to me a sort of a Bateman, or most people think that is a mark of Bateman, but what’s very interesting about this house is its informality, that every room has its own roof and its own expression, that you have this real sense of craftsmanship of the hand of the maker and the way it’s sited towards the sea. It’s also built of the local materials so has that Ruskinian idea of coming up through, you know it’s part of the organic, part of the landscape. And in all of those areas, and it’s really truthed materials and all of those things in all of that way it fulfills the principles of design that Owen Jones talks about; it fulfills the principles of organicism and natural architecture that John Ruskin talks about and in this sense it is very much as Anne Neale says, a proto Arts and Crafts building. It does look forward 40 years to the Arts and Crafts, which is amazing. And so it is a very, very interesting building, but where did it come from? You know you think, if you’re historians you’re always thinking about influences. You know, what are the sources? So I’ll just throw some up and I haven’t got any answers, but pattern books are one of the things that obviously everyone used pattern books in Melbourne, people brought them out with them and the Americans were very, very popular. Particularly this one, Andrew Jackson Downing, and you can see some of those roof forms; this sort of tilting up roof and that half hip here, those sorts, and the collection of roof forms together, that was very, you know, you can get that in Jackson and we know Jackson was used.
This is a very early house by Charles Lang at Corio for two women squatters down near Geelong in 1849 and it shows you that very rugged use of the local stone with contrasting stone windows in that very sort of muscular way that Bateman uses. So I think there are local precedents. Similarly Croucher Wilson’s Longredong was based on a Downing model; it uses red face brick which is very unusual for a brick house at that stage and the interior is incredibly innovative and forward-looking. So you know there's another model, not the same style, but still.
Then, more obscure, people have compared it with Rhenish architecture and I’m thinking that Von Gerard who was a mate of all these people, he’s part of their circle, there’s some paintings of his that sort of show similar collections of roof forms and architectural forms and also Chevalier, Nicholas Chevalier, had painted some architecture pictures that he showed in an exhibition of the Rhine valley and they might have influenced him, who knows.
But the main influence I think is Joseph Reed, which you know we need to think about. Reed had been to England in ’62, ’63. Now he’s an architect so he’s going to check out the architecture. He would have gone to the Continent as well and travelled around there. He would have gone and seen his family down in Cornwall. He would have done all the normal things you expect. He’s away for quite a long time. And this is a real wild card I have to say, but the big news in England in ’59 was the red house that Philip Webb designed for William Morris was the most innovative, most radical house of the mid-19th century. It is the first sort of Arts and Crafts house because what Webb, this genius architect did, it has no style, it’s not Classical and it’s not Gothic. He’d gone back to the vernacular, he’d extracted elements of the knack of local vernacular building practice, such as the use of brick, such as the roof forms, and he had manipulated them into a modern building. And of course for those of you who are familiar with these buildings, the interior was decorated by the Pre-Raphaelites, you know the paintings and the furniture and everything and Morris’s fabrics; it’s the archetypal Arts and Crafts house. But by ’59 it was done and, I just found this, because I haven’t visited this I have to admit, and this is the window done for it, and I thought, oh that looks a little bit like those false, the etchings, they weren’t actually etched windows in the rotunda in the great hall of the exhibition buildings that Bateman did, but they were pretend etchings. I just thought, I wonder if he’d seen a picture of these because if Reed knew about this or if it was published as it probably would have been in the London journals, he would have brought news of it back, because that’s what they did. I mean architects knew what was going on; they got all the local journals. I haven’t actually done that thorough research to see how well-known this building was but this is the closest model I can find to Heronswood and that’s very interesting because it does really show the innovation of that building.
Then the other one that Bateman’s been connected with is Barragunda for another professor, sorry not professor, but for Godfrey Howitt who was a doctor of course, but who was also on the Melbourne University council with Barry and who had this property down at Barragunda that Bateman used to live; where Bateman lived and painted and so forth in a small shack that he shared with the estate manager. And when Robert Anderson the estate manager married Edith Howitt – Godfrey Howitt’s daughter who had been going to marry Thomas Woolner and engaged to him but that fell out, fell through – Bateman started working on a new building for the married couple that they were going to live in. But it wasn’t finished until a long time after he had left; he left in ’69 as I said and it was completed by Reed and Barnes. And it’s had lots of additions ever since, but these are drawings that Georgiana McCrae who was a friend did in 1869 just after it was finished and she actually said that Reed and Barnes sort of did it, so it’s another one of those collaborations which are really, really fascinating. And the interior parts of it we know were decorated by Bateman so this really, it’s a sort of Arts and Crafts collaborative moment in the 1860s that mimics if you like that what’s just emerging in England, but didn’t come back into Melbourne architecture as far as I’m aware, not in this way, until you’ve got people like Walter Butler in the 1890s, or Rodney Alsop, or those great Arts and Crafts architects, so this again is extremely interesting.
And then, just quickly whipping through the western district. He designed the garden for Thomas Shaw at Weireit which I’m not sure if it was built or not in about 1867, ’68, and Reed and Barnes designed the house to go with it and they both fitted incredibly, very sophisticated combined design. By this stage they’re really rocking those two, they really know how to work together. We think that Shaw didn’t actually build that particular building, he built one much later by a different architect. But elements of that building turned up in this Reed and Barnes building, Kolor, which is a fantastic house at Penshurst. And it’s built according to sort of sophisticated landscape theory that comes from Loudon and all those landscape theorists. It doesn’t really come from Bateman, but Bateman wouldn’t have been influenced by it. Bateman may well have done the interior of this building, we don’t know, but he seems to have, the site lines, it’s sort of biaxial in each axis looks out to one of the amazing hill formations.
We found, I’m doing research on the western district, that almost every architect-designed western district homestead, and there’s masses of them, was designed on axis to a landscape feature. But he did this enormous, it has to be Bateman because of Barragunda, he designed that circular garden for the systems garden at Melbourne University. At Barragunda he designed an enormous circular garden set into the hill and here there’s this strange big circular garden next to Kolor, which Bateman probably did design, highly symbolic with stone pines and things in it, very Roman in a way, and also referencing the volcanic landscape. This theory was put forward by Timothy Hubbard in his PhD, just so you know where this reference is coming from. Timothy also suggests that this big circle at Gringegalgona, further west towards South Australia, might also be a Bateman design; there’s absolutely nothing connecting him to Bateman, so that’s pure speculation. And we know he designed Chatsworth House garden, again it’s a bit hard to know what’s left that is his because most of his designs got built over, but he did design a very large curved pine windshield. He liked pines; he seemed to be keen on those, all different sort of pines and large circles and curves. But this is well documented and in fact it was back when he was working on this garden that he fell out of, John Moffat who owned the house, fell out of his buggy and broke his right arm, paralysed it and never got better. And he took Moffat to court and was unsuccessful and went to England to pursue litigation against Moffat and in 1869 and never returned, which is most unfortunately because I just feel that they were really getting into their stride. And had they worked through the 1870s it would have produced great work together, that is Reed and Bateman.
And so Bateman ended up eventually on the Isle of Bute in another hermitage; he built a little house there called the hermitage, it was burnt down. He then asked the, is it the Earl of Bute, or is it something else of Bute isn’t he? Thank you I thought he was something eminent, Marquis of Bute, who gave him the schoolroom and he redesigned that and you can see that he’s harking back to Melbourne twenty years ago. It’s this sort of very romantic, almost nostalgic house that recalls his really happy times in the ‘60s with his friends.
And here in fact he’s being visited by Robert and Edith Anderson, for whom he built Barragunda, he started designing Barragunda. So once again, and he also designed this in collaboration with a Scottish architect called William Leiper. So once again he’s under the protection of a powerful figure, the Marquis of Bute, and he’s working with a designer who’s William Leiper, so he’s moved from Owen Jones to Reed to Leiper and that’s one reason why his career is so incredibly obscure because you have to keep hunting for him in the shadows of all these other people, and trying to extract what we can from no dates anywhere. There’s very little documentation, but I think we can start to do it when we start to think back into his thinking, into his design thinking, looking at his design principles; seeing whether or not they fit with things that we have attributed to him and then crafting out of that not only a really more fleshed-out career for Bateman but also, what I find most fascinating, this tantalising collaboration. Because it really got going in the ‘60s when they started working together and producing, in the Library – in those two spaces, the exhibition building and the Queen’s Hall – you know at a world scale, really innovative, important works that were then carried through into these other more idiosyncratic works. So that’s where I am, and I’m hoping to continue this research and to publish it one day, but thanks for listening to me.