We usually apply our design skills to theatrical props and Art Deco security bars so it was a nice change to be offered the opportunity to design a website for the Wollemia Urology Centre in Gosford.
Rather than starting from scratch you can save yourself a lot of time by using one of the huge variety of website templates available on the Internet. There are many free templates available and for a small fee you can purchase one with a bit more pizzaz. There is a tendency for websites to have lots of “bells and whistles” which can get tedious to wade through so our approach to the design was to keep it as simple as possible while still maintaining an appealing and distinctive look.
The biggest challenge in using templates is deciding what features you don’t want to use. This is made doubly difficult with huge CSS style sheets that have been written to accommodate every feature in a template. Searching through the style sheets trying to find the code that will adjust a font to just so with just the right colour can get very time consuming. Its a bit of a learning curve to get things to do what they were not intended to do in the original template.
We based the site on the free Proximet responsive website by Anariel Design. This offered a clean basic structure that was quite easy to adapt to our purposes. The usual way to build a site is to have all the content and build the site around it. We approached it from the other direction by seeing how the pages where structured and creating content to fit. It was a more organic approach and the site slowly evolved into its final form as it was literally sculpted into shape. The only Java script we retained was for the image slider on the homepage. It’s use on the other pages were felt to be too much of a distraction.
When you have finished a site *always* do a spell check *and* get somebody else to proof read it for you. After days of staring at code the most glaring errors can be invisible to you until pointed out. Once all the content was finished SEO issues then reared their ugly head. SEO is another steep learning curve which really stretches the limits of your command of the English language.
This DecoWorks stainless steel garden armillary sphere fitted to a sandstone column adds a unique and interesting feature to this front garden lawn.
The armillary sphere is 70cm high with the central sphere itself being 45cm in diameter. The finish is raw brushed stainless steel which will last many years exposed to the elements without any corrosion problems. The armillary sphere was shipped to an interstate client who arranged the cutting of the sandstone support column and the fitting of the sphere itself.
More information on armillary spheres can be found here. The sturdy base on the sphere can be easily attached to a support pillar such as this sandstone block or a custom structure.
Stainless steel garden armillary sphere
Another view of the armillary sphere showing its solid construction
The Qantas 747 Jumbo Float of Gayviation from the 1997 Mardi Gras parade
There were many creative entries in the recent 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. One that caught my eye was the Qantas #gay380 float which brought back memories from almost 20 years ago when the original idea of a Qantas 747 Jumbo float was first realized by the Qantas social group, Gayviation.
Gayviation’s 1997 entry (one of 200 that year!) was the forerunner of the later large marching entries in the parade with almost two hundred people doing an airline safety demonstration dance routine to the music of Paul Capsis singing “I still call Australia home”. The entry won “Best of Parade” at the 1997 Mardi Gras Awards Night.
This was a time before the ubiquity of digital cameras and social media so the only record of the time was predominately on film and VHS video. I went through my old negatives and scanned the photos taken in preparation for the 1997 parade and share them here with a brief narrative on the lead up to the parade. Click on any photo for the full size version.
The front truck of the Qantas 747 Jumbo was christened COCKATOO DREAMIMG.
Gayviation’s concept was very simple. Tony Baker, their president, told me they wanted a Qantas 747 Jumbo float consisting of a front truck, being the nose and cockpit of the aircraft, and a rear truck being the tail. It was to go up Oxford Street with a large marching troupe between the two floats, representing the passengers, doing an airline safety demonstration dance routine to a dance track produced by Tiger Recording with Paul Capsis singing “I still call Australia home”. There were to be generators on both trucks to power lighting for the marchers and a complex sound system.
Because of the length of the entry the marchers at the rear couldn’t hear the music from the front truck so a radio link was planned to feed the music from the front truck to the rear truck so those at the back could hear and stay in time with the music of the routine.
I set about designing a metal framework with the shape of a 747 fuselage that completely enclosed a tabletop truck. I was Head of Props at Opera Australia at the time and was allowed to use the workshop facilities in Surry Hills to build the float. It was built in five sections that bolted together to form the shape of the fuselage. All the metal frameworks and wooden fuselage side panels were built at the Opera workshop and fitted to the truck. Once this was completed everything was transferred to the Mardi Gras workshop in Erskineville.
Main cabin frame covered and painted in the Mardi Gras workshop
Top cabin section hanging from the Mardi Gras workshop roof
At the Mardi Gras workshop the steel frames were covered with chicken wire and then glued over with newspaper. Once it had dried it was painted white and had the signage applied. The tail section was built at the Mardi Gras workshop and consisted of a large inverted “V” shape made of plywood which would conceal the generator and sound system. The logo on the tail of the flying kangaroo in a stiletto heel was the brainchild of one of the flight attendants at the time. The rest of the tail truck was masked with black fabric to highlight the tail fin.
On the morning of parade day the front and rear trucks were assembled for the first time in the petrol station outside the Mardi Gras workshop and then driven to Jands lighting in Alexandria to have the lighting and sound systems installed. The installation of all the lights took a particularly long time which became quite stressful as the afternoon wore on.
Fitting lighting and sound systems to the front and rear trucks at Jands warehouse
My anxiety levels were beginning to show as time was running out to get to the parade start
The removable front nose cone was covered in an open mesh material so that the driver of the truck could see out when it was fitted to the front of the fuselage frame. The side passenger windows were also aligned so that those next to the truck cabin could be used to see out to the side.
COCKATOO DREAMING being driven out of its “hanger” for the first time was an exciting moment for all.
Eventually all the lighting rigs and sound systems were finally connected up and tested. Qantas 747 Jumbo “Cockatoo Dreaming” was ready to see the light of day.
It was an exciting and memorable moment for everyone to see it being driven out of the warehouse at Jands Lighting for the first time.
The picture below is the only time that the front and rear trucks were set front to back to show how the complete Qantas 747 Jumbo float looked before being driven to the parade marshaling area in the city.
The front and rear trucks of “Cockatoo Dreaming” ready to go to the parade.
The two trucks on the way to the parade
Qantas 747 Jumbo Float passing through Redfern.
As is generally the case, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry. After the Sun had set we discovered it was difficult for the driver to see through the nose cone section so a segment of material had to be cut out to give a clear view. The radio link with the rear truck also failed on the night so the marchers at the rear had to rely on visual cues to keep in time with the front marchers during the safety demonstration routine.
Tony Baker and myself wishing “Cockatoo Dreaming” good luck just before the parade start.
Qantas 747 Jumbo featured on the Mardi Gras 1997 Parade Video promotional poster
The parade was a blur of colour and sound and a terrific time was had by all. All the effort was worth the once in a lifetime experience of taking a Qantas 747 Jumbo up Oxford Street. The video below shows the parade entry on the night. Great memory 🙂
Buggery’s Creek International Airport railway station – 1998 Mardi Gras parade
The following year Gayviation did another parade entry. The Qantas 747 Jumbo float from the previous year was ressurected with new livery and I built another float consisting of an illuminated rainbow coloured control tower which led the entry up Oxford Street.
The float represented Buggery’s Creek International airport railway station and along with the illuminated model of the Sydney airport control tower featured a classic Sydney Rail railway platform built over the truck cabin. The power generator was concealed by several bushes behind the cabin. Two large power line towers, typical of Western Sydney, completed the picture and supported the lighting.
At the time there was hot debate about a new airport at Badgery’s Creek with a new rail link which is *still* going on as I write this post. I hope they end up putting in a fast rail link as it is “out to buggery” – an Australian colloquialism for a very long way away. Another one, “go to buggery”, is an impolite way to tell someone to “get lost” or “go away”.
Below is a video of the Control Tower and 747 Jumbo in the 1998 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
During the silent movie era a live musical accompaniment was often used to add atmosphere and drama to the film being shown. This was usually provided by a piano or, in the larger theatres of the day, a pipe organ. The organ console was mainly kept out of sight as there was little reason to do otherwise. With the advent of the talkies in the late 1920’s the role of the theatre organ changed to one of a showman’s instrument for musical entertainment. During intermission an organ console would appear from nowhere, usually from below the stage on a lift, with an enthusiastic performer milking the instrument for everything it was worth. At the end of the performance the organist would, with great bravado, sink back below the stage waving goodbye to an appreciative audience.
The Plaza Theatre, Sutton (from the Ivor Buckingham Collection)
Unfortunately a timber paneled organ console quickly becomes boring to watch – even in a coloured spotlight. Many consoles were mounted on a revolve to add a bit of movement and the organist had to become quite animated at times to maintain the attention of the audience. The personality of the organist and organ became the big draw card and the organ console itself was becoming a secondary aspect to the performance. There was a need to make it a more integral part of the performance .
The Compton organ with illuminated surround at the Odeon Theatre, Swiss Cottage (from the Ivor Buckingham Collection)
The John Compton Organ Company in England created many exciting and innovative new designs for organ consoles using exotic timbers and sculpted panels. The first major new design was a French-style console in 1930 which bore more than a passing resemblance to a Wurlitzer.
However the big innovation happened in September 1932 when “The World’s First Luminous Organ” opened at the Capital Theatre in Forest Hill. The idea took flight immediately and demand for the new illuminated surrounds soared. Many fine examples of these consoles can be found in the “Stories of London” blog. Here can be found many examples of the organs made by John Compton. The Compton List is a detailed record of the 261 theatre organs built by the John Compton Organ Company, and installed in theatres, town halls, and studios throughout the UK and overseas before and, in a few cases, just after the Second World War. It is the result of continuous research and documentation begun early in 1990 by Ivor Buckingham.
Donald MacKenzie playing “The Duchess” at the Odeon in Leicester Square.
The use of illuminated surrounds was a predominately British phenomenon which was not used in the United States or elsewhere. The most famous instrument, known as “The Duchess”, is located at the Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square. The surround was a special and it can be seen in this youtube video with Donald Mackenzie playing the signature tunes of the presidents of the Cinema Organ Society (COS) at a concert on the 25th August 2014. The audience were joined by members of The Cinema Organ Society who were celebrating their 60th anniversary.
Terrence Casey with the Rainbow style surround at the Gaumont Theatre in Chelsea (from the Ivor Buckingham Collection)
As of 2015 there are only a few theatre organs still in use in Sydney. The Cremorne Orpheum on Military Road is the only theatre providing regular intermission entertainment during screenings. The Orpheum Theatre is the jewel in the crown of Art Deco theatres in Australia much to the credit of its owner, Mike Walsh. The Wurlitzer console itself is a white and silver paneled unit mounted on a revolve which rises up from under the stage floor. Many of the polished consoles were painted ivory or white to make them look better under coloured spotlights. In the city this happened to the organs of the Regent, Plaza and Capitol theatres. This treatment was also done to some of the suburban theatre organs as well. At the State the console was ivory from new.
Other theatre organs that still exist around Sydney include the following;
– Orion Theatre (Campsie) : Ex-Sydney Capitol Theatre (Wurlitzer – owner TOSA)
– Marrickville Town Hall : Ex-Prince Edward Theatre, Castlereagh Street (Wurlitzer – owner TOSA)
– Epping Baptist Church : Ex-Duke of York Theatre (later the Odeon), Eastwood (Christie)
– Anglican Church (West Ryde) : Ex-Kings Theatre, Gordon (Christie – owner TOSA)
– State Theatre ; Being restored – currently unplayable (Wurlitzer)
– Wesley Theatre, Pitt Street: Ex-Lyceum Theatre on the same site (Christie)
The Theatre Organ Society of Australia (TOSA) organise regular recitals at some of these venues so these marvelous instruments can be heard.
A few years ago Decoworks submitted a proposal to build an illuminated surround for the Orpheum Wurlitzer to give it a more Art Deco feeling in keeping with the overall theme of the theatre. The story of its design and final submission pictures can be found here.
This is the commemorative patch of the Space Shuttle program which concluded with the flight of STS-135 (Atlantis) on July 8th 2011.
The fan shape which has been used is a popular motif of the Art Deco period. It is the basis of our Plaza, Regent and Regal security bar designs and has an uplifting and *into the future* feel about it. It fits perfectly with the ideals of the Shuttle program.
The final Shuttle flight patch, STS-135 (below) uses a similar motif but this time in reverse and is a representation of the engine thrust on takeoff. This also conveys an upward and uplifting feeling even though the pattern is reversed compared to the fan in the Shuttle program patch. The prominent *omega* symbol is a nice choice being the last letter in the Greek alphabet.
Each mission had its own patch design but these two are my favourites.
The final Space Shuttle flight STS-135 – Atlantis on 8th July 2011.
The Greatest Wonder of the World exhibition is being held at the State Library of NSW from February 23rd to May 12th 2013. The exhibition showcases the work of Beaufoy Merlin and Charles Baylis who documented everyday life in the gold fields, towns and cities of Australia in the 1870’s.
In 1951 a cache of 3500 glass wet plate negatives were discovered in a garden shed in Chatwood. Now known as “The Holtermann Collection” they were scanned in high resolution by the Library which revealed a wealth of information about the times. It was through Bernhardt Holtermann, part owner of The Star of Hope gold mine in Hill End and “discoverer” of the Holtermann nugget, that Merlin and Baylis were able to create this legacy which is the subject of this exhibition.
This a photo of the story printed in the South Australian Advertiser on the 17th February, 1873, describing the finding of a second monster gold nugget at the Star of Hope mine at Hill End. The story quotes an article printed in the Hill End Observer and Tambaroora Herald on the the 5th of February the same year. It confirms that an even larger nugget was discovered in the mine and that it was actually brought to the surface intact. It also describes a tour inside the mine shafts where the nugget was found.
Since no photographs were taken we can only imagine what it looked like from the description below. The story of the Holtermann nugget can be found on this page.
South Australian Advertiser, 17th February, 1873 describing the monster nugget found in Holtermann's mine at Hill End