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Gothic paradise - the legacy of Pugin
is not a city, town or village in Australia that does not display some evidence
of the impact of Pugin and the Gothic Revival, from tiny wooden churches with
pointed windows and doors up to the magnificent St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne,”
says Brian Andrews, cur-ator of the
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52) is the subject of a major exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum to mark 150 years since his death.
Pugin was taken by the beauty and strength of Gothic design and transformed architecture and design in England, forming the starting point for the Gothic Revival movement.
The highly influential architect, designer and architectural theorist designed the interior and furnishings of the British Houses of Parliament, including the House of Lords.
Pugin never visited Australia but he had a direct impact on ecclesiastical architecture here, particularly in Tasmania and NSW, during the 1800s and 1900s.
In fact, his only body of work outside Britain and Ireland is in Australia.
He was a passionate Catholic and a friend of Bishop Robert Willson, who left England in 1844 to become Hobart’s first prelate.
Most of Pugin’s 12 Australian buildings were designed for the first Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop John Bede Polding.
They included St Francis Xavier’s Church in Berrima,
St Stephen’s Church in Brisbane and extensions to the old St Mary’s Cathedral
in Sydney, which was destroyed by fire in 1865.
The exhibition contains more than 280 objects exemplifying Pugin’s ornamental and architectural designs, mostly from private collections.
They include furniture, embroidered silk textiles, carved stonework, metalwork, books, paintings and engravings, photographs and drawings.
Creating a Gothic paradise: Pugin at the Anti-podes, a national travelling exhibition from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, is at the Powerhouse Museum until August 17.