Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1879 – Bowral, New South Wales, Australia 1977
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: metalwork, mirrors, copper, glass mirror, cedar copper repoussé mounted over wood frame
By 1900, Australian decorative arts and design reflected British and European design styles of the late 19th century, such as the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Aesthetic Movement and Art Nouveau. The emphasis on nature as subject matter, the expression of nationalism and regionalism and the return to handcraft values in these styles found favour with designers and craft practitioners seeking to celebrate Australia’s unique flora and fauna with the advent of Federation.
Eirene Mort’s work resulted form a thorough training in art, design and craft in England from 1899 to 1906. Her subsequent work as an etcher influenced her craft output in metalwork, ceramics and woodcarving, giving her work a strong and consistent design character. While influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau, Mort concentrated on Australian subject matter, using native flora and fauna as design motifs in book illustrations, bookplates, postcards and illustrated manuscripts. This wall mirror, with its repoussé copper design of eucalypts, is a fine example of the integration of her design and craft skills. Mort made her designs available to other craft workers, broadening her influence in the burgeoning nationalism of Australia’s post-Federation period.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002