Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism Project
Join me as I document Tasmania’s 20th Century Modernist architecture and design. This ongoing long term project explores the fascinating part of Tasmanian history and how its shaped Tasmania.
The most prolific example of Modernist Twentieth Century architecture in Tasmania are residential dwellings. Their style and reach is vast across all corners of Tasmania. Residential housing predominately consists of detached dwellings, but flats are also common in the major in the cities, especially in Hobart.
Industry & Manufacturing
There are many examples of 20th Century design in industry and manufacturing in Tasmania that contributed both large scale employment and a wonderful array of architectural designs to support the industry. Large scale Industry brought with it employment, many towns were literally built and exist because of it. This is most apparent in the mining township of Queenstown in West Coast Tasmania and Burnie that was home to the Associated Pulp and Paper Mills and Tioxide which created pigments for paint products. In the South the Boyer Paper Mill near New Norfolk continues to operate as does the Nyrstar Zinc Works on the bank of the River Derwent in Hobart. These are large scale industrial operations. Launceston had a diverse range of industries which included several Woollen Mills such as Coats Patons which closed down in the late 1990s, and Waverly Woolen Mills, that still operates today. Many townships were created on the back of Hydro Power including Poatina in the North and Tarraleah
There is a wealth of commercial architecture in Tasmania ranging from large scale Modernist malls and department stores such as the 1960s Myer building in Launceston and the Cat and Fiddle Arcade in Hobart. Office tower blocks include the Art Deco masterpiece, Holyman House, in Launceston; The striking 1970s orange glass curtain wall that is Jaffa House in Hobart and the tallest commercial building in Tasmania - the heritage listed Wrest Point Casino - designed by Sir Roy Grounds. There are myriad of smaller projects too, all of which create a wonderful range of commercial architecture designed in the 20th Century period.
Wonderful public hospital designs from the 20th Century in Tasmania include the former Launceston General Hospital (altered) with its open verandas and iconic spiral staircase (demolished). The former Burnie Hospital with ocean views (demolished), and the beautiful curves of the Devonport Maternity Hospital (demolished). The 1960s red brick tower block that was the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital makes a bold statement in Launceston. The Royal Hobart Hospital is a collection of Modernist designed buildings showcasing designs from the 1930s to the 1960s.
It's all about the details. Here you can explore how artists were experimenting with their craft, designing art for public spaces and for buildings, often being inspired by and interpreting the Tasmanian landscape and stories for their inspiration. This gallery is also an exploration of details of buildings - typeface, mosaics, tiles, textures, patterns and those details you mightn’t have noticed before. Those design elements that might be small in detail but provide a building with its soul.
Many examples of Tasmanian 20th Century architecture have been demolished since I started photographing. As change is always constant, one of my motivations as a photographer is to capture places that are at risk of demolition for posterity. Sometimes buildings are demolished completely such as the former 10 Murray Street State Government offices in Hobart. Other times buildings are altered beyond their original design and alter them largely unrecognisable from their original Modernist aesthetic. This gallery is in memory of those buildings that have been lost, but remain forever in our memory through the powerful medium that is the photograph.
IN FOCUS - DOCUMENTARY PROJECTS
In Focus provides photo essays of buildings, sites and precincts relating to Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism. If there is a story to tell with more than a single photograph they live here.
The former Burnie Paper Mill (Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd) located in Burnie was one of the main employers of region. The mill started operations in the late 1930s and closed down in 2010. It was home to a wealth of wonderful Industrial buildings from the 1930s-1960s. Driving into Burnie the Burnie Paper Mill was a mighty impressive sight to behold, an industrial powerhouse, reminding one that you were now entering the industrial capital of the North-West. This project is close to my heart and I made many trips to document the Burnie Paper Mill before it was demolished. This project is ongoing in the sense that I have a large library of photographs that require editing As I process these images I will be adding them to this project gallery.
The 10 Murray Street project has been an immense undertaking logistically, emotionally and photographically. I have amassed a large library of photographs I have still to process, documenting the exterior and interior spaces for over the past decade. Join me on my journey through a Modernist landmark.
One of my favourite Mid Century Modernist designs in Tasmania is the Myer building located in the heart of Launceston’s central business district. It’s an important building, due not only to its use of materials that create a striking example of Tasmania Mid Century Modernism, but also its socio-cultural history within the retail landscape of Launceston.