Signage for the Cameron Offices, Canberra by Gordon Andrews, 1969. Powerhouse Collection

Graphic Identities

Exhibition

Graphic Identities highlights eight ground-breaking Australian design archives from the Powerhouse Collection. Featuring work from celebrated 20th Century designers including Douglas Annand, Frances Burke, Gordon Andrews and Arthur Leydin, the exhibition explores the role of visual communication in shaping contemporary Australian culture. The selected designers, many of whom honed their skills in commercial art and visual design in technical colleges around Australia, became founding members of the emerging design institutes and art societies of the early 20th century. Through their work in advertising, publishing, fine art and textiles, these designers created the image of iconic Australian brands including David Jones, National Trust, Dri-Glo, Tourism Australia and the Reserve Bank.

The design archives on display reflect a wide range of disciplines and media – including pre-digital commercial art and graphic design, typography, collage, illustration, printmaking and painting – demonstrating design’s unique ability to span creative industries. These archives chart pivotal moments in the history of Australian design and draw inspiration from a range of influences including native flora and fauna as well as local and international collaborations with leading artists and designers such as László Moholy-Nagy and Russell Drysdale.

In an increasingly interconnected and shifting global landscape, the design industry’s role in effective and far-reaching visual communication has never been more important. These archives demonstrate design’s enormous power in harnessing symbolism and imagery to bridge social barriers and shape our cultural identity.

Cropped detail of the cover of an Orient Line information for passengers booklet designed by Douglas Annand (1956). Features a blue etched image of an owl wearing a sailor's cap in front of a white anchor on a pink background.

Douglas Annand collection

Douglas Annand was a stylistic chameleon adept at playing with form, perspective, scale and medium.

Cropped detail of a screen-printed cotton textile length designed by Frances Burke (1950) with a forest green on white and teal chequered diamond pattern.

Frances Burke collection

Frances Burke’s lino-block and screen-printed fabrics helped define the Australian modernist interior.

Cropped detail of a gouache on paper textile design by Dahl Collings (1950-1953) featuring an abstract pattern in yellow, black and red on cream ground.

Dahl Collings collection

The dazzling range of Dahl Collings’ output transcended conventional art and design narratives.

Cropped detail of a promotional brochure designed by Arthur Leydin (late 1960s) featuring marketing signatures developed by Arthur Leydin, including those for Metal Manufactures Limited and an update to the Cottee’s logo graphic.

Alistair Morrison collection

Alistair Morrison was recognised for his exceptional skill in marrying type and illustration.

Cropped detail of a mock-up for the printing hall of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Craigieburn note printing works designed by Gordon Andrews (1981-1982) in a green, blue and orange paper abstract design on light green paper background adhered to cardboard.

Gordon Andrews collection

Gordon Andrews was adept at modulating any visual field, be it a postage stamp or a sports stadium.

Cropped detail of a gouache on paper textile design by Shirley de Vocht (c. 1945-1948) featuring blue gum leaves, blue and white gum blossoms and gum nuts on a tan background.

Shirley de Vocht collection

Shirley de Vocht found success as an industrial designer when there were few women in the field.

Cropped detail of polyethylene film separation with a horse head logo and six repeated outlines designed by Pieter Huveneers for Tooth and Company Limited (about 1978)

Pieter Huveneers collection

An expert in corporate identity, for Pieter Huveneers design and business were inseparable.

Cropped detail of a promotional brochure designed by Arthur Leydin (late 1960s) featuring marketing signatures developed by Arthur Leydin, including those for Metal Manufactures Limited and an update to the Cottee’s logo graphic.

Arthur Leydin collection

Arthur Leydin campaigned relentlessly for the cultural significance of graphic design in Australia.

Plan Your Experience

All the information you need to plan your visit is available on the Powerhouse Museum venue page, including:

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Discover More

Request a copy of the large print guide upon arrival, or print it out before you arrive.

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