Inside the Collection

Celebrating arts and crafts at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

Photograph of Sleeping Beauty Tableau
A6896-1 Sleeping Beauty Tableau, made by Rene Wilson, 1960 Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Sydney’s Royal Easter Show came from agricultural beginnings. In 1822 in a new and small colony the Royal Agricultural Society was formed with the intention of increasing livestock within the colony and sharing farming practices. The first show was held the following year in Parramatta.

Exhibitions at the show started in 1888 with the opportunity to enter jams and jellies to be displayed, judged and awarded for their efforts. In 1907 a pavilion was opened to allow woman to display their work and in 1915 the section was renamed woman’s industries, as they were the only ones allowed to submit entries.

By the 1950s the section was renamed Home and Handicrafts, during this time Euronwy (Rene) Wilson entered miniature doll tableau’s that she started making as a hobby in 1956.

Photograph of Swan Lake Tableau
A6896-6 Doll tableau, “Swan Lake”, timber/glass/fabric, made by Euronwy (Rene) Wilson, Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia, c.1960

Over time Rene would be awarded 18 first prizes at the Royal Easter Show in recognition of her unique and detailed work. As stated by Margaret Simpson this tableau and the ten we hold in the Powerhouse Collection feature “…an interesting combination of character and period doll dressing, doll’s house interior design, needlework and craft”1.

Sleeping beauty was Rene’s first tableau, she won first prize at the Easter Show in 1960. It took her a total of 10 months to make and contains amazing details in the props from the accessories on Sleeping Beauty’s dressing table, her harp and the prince’s shoes- that Rene crafted from her husbands wallet.

A selection of her tableau’s with their winning ribbons are on display at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre.

Photograph of The Grand Parade, Royal Easter Show 1964
96/44/1-5/4/162/2 The Grand Parade, Royal Easter Show, David Mist, 1964. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

96/44/1-5/4/162/2 The Grand Parade, Royal Easter Show, David Mist, 1964. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

1. A6896- 1:10 Tableaux in miniature, Margaret Simpson
Statement of significances

Carr, Valerie, Dolls clothes knitted on darning needles in The Australian Women’s Weekly,
6 March 1968, p.13.

Cooke, Anne, Going to the Show?: images and memories of Sydney’s Royal Easter Show, Historic Houses Trust of NSW, 1996.

Written by Kate Clancy, Curatorial volunteer

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