Showing posts with label scenic design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scenic design. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

More notes on scenic design by Jack Ricketts.

All question marks are mine- some of the handwriting is worn and illegible.

Fifty years of scenic painting in Australia.

Now that Australia is about to celebrate the hundred and fifty years of its existence I think that the last half century of one of its minor industries the art of scene painting may be of interest to the many readers of the Sydney Morning Herald. Theatrical scene painting has two uses first as a background to plays operas and theatre presentations and secondly as an art education to the masses who nightly gather together in the various theatres. The art of scene painting in Australia is as high and has a standard equal to any part of the world. The reason for this is that the early nineties had a combination of actor managers who in their endeavours  to equal each other in merit had to import their scene artists. Fortunately they selected England and from there brought a brilliant coterie of painters Harry Lynid? W J Wilson, George C Gordon, then in succession came W B Spong, Hedley Churchward, Fred Kneebone, John Brunton Phil W Goatcher, George Dixon and W B Coleman. All these great painters are dead with the exception of Mr George Dixon who is now painting at the Theatre Royal Sydney.

 Fifty years ago when I joined the theatre on the scenic staff and before the imported painters mentioned above had arrived, Australia had competent resident scenic men. In Melbourne, Mr John Henning, Mr John Fille, Mr Habbe, Her Von Vennenmark? Fred Edmunds W Massey, Geo Kelly, W Pitt. In Sydney W J Wilson, William Kinchella, G W Perriman, Alfred Louis Tischbauer who painted under the name of ALTA, Mr Richard Seligill? Mr Alfred Clint, Mr Geo Campbell, Mr Feda? Williams and Mr Edward Vaughan,  It was wonderful in the gas lit crudely filled theatres as those drops, what wonderful artistic illusions these painters could create. The history of the theatre in Australia for the last fifty years is really the life story of the various actor managers, the deaths of JC  Williamson, Arthur Garner, Brough and Boccicault , Charles Holloway, Dan barry Graham... Wybert Reeve, D ogden? B N Jones, 

Some notes on Scenic Design by Jack Ricketts

Jack Ricketts trained as a scenic designer and artist in Sydney. He knew many of Australia's scenic designers. Below are some notes his made on the history of his profession.

Before I write of the last fifty years let the late W Wiseman tells us something of its earlier history he says;

Notes on early Scenic Design in Australia
W J Wilson scenic artist landed in Melbourne March 6th 1855. His grandfather J Wilson , his father W G Wilson was scenic artist for Drury Lane Covent Garden and other London Theatres. In an interview with him he said in Melbourne at the time of arrival 1855, there was only one theatre, (the Queens) under management of George Coppin, Charles Young and J P Hydes. This theatre had an act drop painted by Mr William Pitt, The father of William Pitt the architect who in later years designed and built the Kings Theatre Melbourne and many theatres in New Zealand.

The Theatre Royal and Coppin's Olympic were in the course of construction. The Royal opened on the 16th July 1858, the play being the School for Scandal The Olympic 31st of July 1855, the plays being The Lady of Lyons and ( To oblige Benson, the other scene painters in Melbourne were William Pitt, John Hemmings Mr Opie, mr Tannant? Mr ar...? and Herr Habbe). I came to Sydney in 1861 and painted for Ralph Tolano then lessee of The Lyceum Theatre York Street, This theatre was afterwards known as the Queens, being rechristened by ...F Hardying? Habbe and WJ Wilson. In 1863 the old Prince of Wales Theatre (now the Theatre Royal) was rebuilt after the fire in October 1860. On Monday August the 20th 1870, Habbe and W J Wilson opened the Victoria Theatre, Pitt Street with the Gregory? Troupe. That was before John Bennets leeseeship. the Victoria Theatre was burnt down in... and no theatre erected on its site. For this season, Habbe and Wilson painted a new act drop the centre piece depicted Circular Quay.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Scenic Design- 1901

Scenic designers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries painted large frames by hand to produce amazing artistic backdrops.

Jack Ricketts, (Scenic Designer) saved the picture below which shows him and a fellow designer painting the act drop of the Criterion Theatre in 1901 for a Josephine Stanton production.

Jack wrote;

This sketch shows the painting frame of the late Criterion Theatre and depicts the writer and William Diamond of New Zealand at work on the scenery for the opening of the Josephine Stanton Company. This drawing, which was presented to the writer by the artist will give readers of this article an idea of the work room of the professional scenic painter.

Unlike England where scenic designers worked in their own work rooms, in Australia, the scenic designers worked in special areas in the theatre. The backdrops were painted by hand in sections and lowered on a winch to the stage. It was painstaking and demanding work.

The picture above was drawn by C Gordon Stanhope.

More on Scenic designers here