Inside the Collection

Sydney Royal Easter Show

The A-Team showbag and contents 1983
Showbag and contents, A Team Collection, 1983: Powerhouse Museum

Going to an Easter show is almost a childhood rite of passage for Sydneysiders. Apart from looking at a variety of animals, agricultural pavilions, side shows and competitions like wood chopping there was always the draw of the Show Bag Pavilion. Selecting which show bag, the lolly or TV show based one (or if you were lucky a couple of show bags) was part of the day’s excitement.

Wood chopping. Royal Easter Show 1964
96/44/1-5/4/161/2 wood chopping , Royal Easter Show, David Mist, 1964

The Sydney Royal Easter Show has a 190 year history. Its beginnings can be traced to 5th July 1822, when the Agricultural Society of NSW (later the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW) was founded at a meeting in Sydney. It was an opportunity for growers and manufacturers to display and compete. In the 1920s and 30s companies like Clyde Engineering and Tooth & Co would have substantial displays.

 Tooth & Co, display Royal Easter Show 1920
2001/105/1-1 Tooth & Co, display Royal Easter Show, Rousel Studios, 1920s – 1930s. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

The Easter Show continues displays of agricultural prowess and for many gives access to the country processes and people they rarely see.The wood chopping events still hold a particular allure.

Three Royal Easter Show prize ribbons for wood chopping
A10107 Prize ribbons, 3, wood chopping events, Royal Easter Show. Collection:Powerhouse Museum

The ribbon pictured at the bottom of the image was the prize was for the World Championship in Sawing (Double-handed), and awarded to Tom Kirk in 1941 at the Royal [Empire] Show, Sydney.

Arts and crafts as well have been another important part of the Easter show. This doll tableau features an underwater cave in which a ceramic mermaid appears with a plastic skeleton and treasure chest. It was made as a craft hobby in 1965 and is one of ten tableaux in the Museum’s collection put together by Euronwy (Rene) Wilson (1898-1978), She modeled many of the props for the settings in potter’s clay, which were baked in her oven at home with the roast then painted. Other props were gathered from Sydney antique shops and auctions or modified from household items. Between 1960 and her death in 1978 she won 18 first prizes in the arts and crafts section of Sydney’s Royal Easter Show, and five at the Sydney Doll Show.

Craft hobby mermaid tableaux by Euronwy (Rene) Wilson 1898-1978
A6896-10 Royal Easter Show, Collection: Powerhouse Museum craft hobby tableaux by Euronwy (Rene) Wilson 1898-1978

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