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Staccato (c. 1962) (detail), Screen-printed cotton, 119 x 126cm.
© RMIT Design Archives, Ararat Gallery TAMA, Ararat Rural City Council and MDP Photography & Video.

Frances Burke

Works from the TAMA Collection 


Free Entry


Saturday 25th September 2021 - Sunday 6th February 2022


10.00am - 4.00pm


Ararat Gallery TAMA




Frances Burke 2021 Catalogue

Australia’s most influential and celebrated textile designer of the mid-20th century, Frances Burke (1904-1994) employed Australian native flora, garden flowers, marine subjects, Indigenous culture and increasingly, abstract motifs in her stunning modern fabrics. As a confident, determined young woman, Burke made the shift in her studies from fine art to design in 1937.

While she began by designing dress fabrics for Melbourne’s fashionable Georges Department store, Burke’s furnishing fabrics took their place in influential modern buildings through collaborations with leading architects and interior designers. They included Robin Boyd’s 1949 House of Tomorrow, Roy Grounds’ Quamby flats, Guilford Bell’s Royal Hayman Island Resort for Ansett Airlines, and Yuncken, Freeman Brothers, Griffiths and Simpson’s Canberra Civic Centre Theatre.

In the post-war period, Burke made regular trips to the US and Europe, on her return advising homeowners and manufacturers on the latest trends in products, colours and home design. At New Design her fabric showroom and interior design consultancy Burke introduced furniture by emerging designers Clement Meadmore and Grant Featherston in the early 1950s.

Burke’s three decades in business (1937-1970) were an unparalleled success in the story of Australian design. Her fabrics have been collected by the NGA, the Powerhouse Museum, NGV, RMIT Design Archives and Sydney Living Museums in addition to Ararat Gallery TAMA.

Written by Nanette Carter and Robyn Oswald-Jacobs.

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