The Federation Tapestry: Home Sweet Home

This panel forms the sixth in the suite of tapestries which make up the Federation Tapestry.

Federation Tapestry: Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home was designed by Murray Walker, with contributing artists Mirka Mora and Bruce Petty, school student Charlotte Walker and images sourced from mail order catalogues printed between 1890 and 1915. It focuses on the family home, and its importance to many Australians who dream of owning their own home with a garden on a large block of land.

The central image is of a suburban house in the Federation style, but it is a strangely unpopulated house, insubstantial and empty behind the façade. The artist wanted to pose the question: ‘Does a house represent stability, or only an illusion of stability?’

This disturbing emptiness is surrounded by illustrations from mail-order catalogues showing people dressed in the fashions around 1901, and a young child’s drawing of her own home today. Mirka Mora’s vignettes at the top corners of the panel bring added warmth. She depicts Charles Perkins, a contemporary Aboriginal leader, and three Anglo-Celtic faces, and she expresses the view that ‘Your home is your heart: it’s where you feel secure, share your pleasures and your treasures – your family’.

At the bottom of the panel, Bruce Petty has drawn an architectural timeline of Australian homes after European settlement. They range from the temporary tents of the first settlers to a late Victorian mansion in Malvern, Victoria, complete with one of the earliest motor cars.

Weavers’ pin board with original design and woven samples

Weavers’ pin board with original design and woven samples.

The challenge for the weavers was to bring together the disparate elements of the design –Mirka Mora’s lyrically painted portraits, finely drawn lithographic images from mail order catalogues, a contemporary colour photograph of an Edwardian house and Bruce Petty’s quirky black pen renderings of past house styles.

The detailed nature and small scale of Petty’s drawings provided a further challenge, requiring the weavers to edit the material sensitively, while maintaining its integrity. This section of the tapestry also called for well-developed weaving skills with a good control of the surface and a well practiced ability to handle fine lines.

Detail of Home Sweet Home on the loom

Detail of Home Sweet Home on the loom

Home Sweet Home

Designer: Murray Walker with contributing artists Mirka Mora, Bruce Petty and school student Charlotte Walker. Other images are sourced from mail order catalogues 1890–1915.

Size: 200 x 385 cm

The Federation Tapestry was supported by the Commonwealth Government through the Federation Fund.

Further Reading

Latreille, Anne and Walker, Murray 2001. The Federation Tapestry: one people united in peace. Catalogue available from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and the Melbourne Museum Shop.

Walker, Sue (Ed.) 2000. Modern Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry. Workshop. The Beagle Press.

1995. Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

Brochures: Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne’s Marvellous Tapestries

Video: 1997 Contemporary Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

Comments (2)

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Nicole 27 June, 2010 16:11
Is this house located in Malvern East?
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Discovery Centre 28 June, 2010 13:44

Hi Nicole - The Home Sweet Home tapestry is the sixth panel of ten in the Federation Tapestry Suite woven by the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, to mark the Centenary of Federation in 2001. For further information about the tapestry you can contact the Australian Tapestry Workshop (formerly known as the Victorian Tapestry Workshop).

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