Current Issue #488

A Thread Runs Through It: Rebecca Evans

A Thread Runs Through It: Rebecca Evans

Since she took over the role in February 2016, Evans has been working her way through the collection, familiarising herself with the content, the treasures and the opportunities it offers.

“The collection does not include all the big international fashion names yet, but it has a good representation of local South Australian dressmakers,” Evans says. Evans is keen to build the collection with some signature pieces of contemporary fashion.

She rates her attendance at Australian Fashion Week as an important part of her job where designers like Cami James from Discount Universe are on her radar.

“Cami happens to be an Adelaide girl, which just adds to the appeal,” Evans says.

adoration-magi-rebecca-evans-adelaide-reviewMorris & Company, London, Britain, 1861 – 1940, Edward Burne‑Jones, designer, Britain, 1833 – 1898, J. H. Dearle, designer of floral ground, Britain, 1860 – 1932, The Adoration of the Magi, 1900‑02, designed 1887, London, wool, silk; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Evans came to Adelaide from the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. “One of the big drawcards for me was the opportunity to work with the William Morris Collection,” she says.

Thanks to the Barr Smith family – one of Adelaide’s wealthiest families, who furnished seven homes over three generations almost exclusively with William Morris furnishings – Adelaide is now home to the biggest collection of William Morris textiles, furnishings and art outside the UK. In 1917, the Gallery purchased the tapestry The Adoration of the Magi.

Designed by Edward Burne-Jones and created by The Morris Company, it is one of only nine versions ever  made, and possibly in the best condition of all. According to Evans, the collection has great potential for further development and many new display possibilities that she is eager to explore. The Rhianon Vernon-Roberts Memorial Collection of Contemporary Australian Jewellery is another remarkable South Australian treasure.

The collection was established by Vernon-Roberts’ parents in memory of their daughter, a talented jeweller who sadly passed away at a young age in 1990. Now comprising around 140 items of contemporary and innovative jewellery, Evans is excited for the opportunity to expand this collection.

rhianon-vernon-roberts-memorial-collection-rebecca-evans-adelaide-reviewInstallation view of The Rhianon Vernon-Roberts Memorial Collection Display, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2016

“South Australia is like a finishing school for crafts people from around the country,” she says. “With JamFactory, Gray Street Workshop and Guildhouse, Adelaide has a strong foundation for the development of craft people that does not happen in other states.”

Evans is very excited about all the possibilities this offers, not just for her role at the gallery, but also for the South Australian economy. “The glass studio at the JamFactory attracts people from across the country,” she says. “As object and jewellery design schools close down interstate, crafts people gravitate towards Adelaide.”

guildhouse-robin-best-rebecca-evans-adelaide-reviewRobin Best, Australia/China, born 1953, The pepper pot ‑ the legacy of Coenraad Temminck, 2013, Jingdezhen, China, porcelain, xincai painting, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. © the artist

Evans has many great plans and ideas to exhibit, grow, and develop not just the current collections at the Art Gallery of SA, but also the contemporary artists and craft people in Adelaide and South Australia. The Art Gallery of SA has two current exhibitions under Evan’s curatorship: Guildhouse 50 and The Rhianon Vernon-Roberts Collection.

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