ART DECO AND MODERNISM
ROBIN GROW, PRESIDENT OF THE ART DECO & MODERNISM SOCIETY
17 AUGUST 2019
With an audience of just short of 80 members the popularity of this topic was never going to be in doubt.
Robin began by explaining the origins of Art Deco, which flourished in the optimism of the 1920s, and diminished in the economic downturn and political turmoil of the following decades. The short-lived style, nonetheless, is one of the most recognisable architectural and design movements today.
Buildings were made to look like steam-liner ships. Ships were made to look like futuristic palaces. Traditional shapes were abstracted into geometric and angular patterns. Everything was a motif for modernity and developments in technology.
The rapid expansion of Melbourne in the 1920s and 30s called for the construction of new buildings for public use. For a short few years, Art Deco became the preferred architectural style for places of political or cultural significance. And Melbourne has been blessed with many examples. Thanks to the tireless work of Robin Grow and the Art Deco Society a large number of these have become protected under heritage listings but sadly many have been lost under the banner of “progress”.
Buildings such as the Astor Cinema, the Rivoli in Camberwell, the Heidelberg Town Hall, the Meyer Emporium and Foys corner store, and the Manchester Unity building are significant highlights. On a more local front the many apartments that flourished in Elwood and St Kilda; factories in Port Melbourne like General Motors Holden’s and the Rootes assembly plant all still stand and reflect Melbourne’s adoption of the ethos of the time.
Robin’s extended photo presentation included all these and many more, all explained in detail with amusing anecdotes and fond reminiscences from the audience.
Mark Denniston, Course Co-ordination Team