Inside the Collection

Meet the curator- Glynis Jones

MAAS curator Glynis Jones with MAAS collection objects
Photography by Sotha Bourn © Powerhouse Museum, all rights reserved

Name: Glynis Jones (I often receive phone calls from gentlemen of a certain age who ask me if I appeared in Mary Poppins!!).

What is your specialty area? I completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Archaeology and Fine Arts and a postgraduate degree in Museum Studies. It was working as an archaeologist on the excavation of the First Government House site on Bridge St that gave me first hand experience of studying the past through artefacts. The glass, ceramics, drains, bones and clay pipes left me with a vivid impression of early colonial occupation of the area.

I joined the Museum as an Assistant Registrar, cataloguing the textiles and dress collection and from there became Assistant Curator and then Curator of fashion and dress. I look after a very diverse collection area covering men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories ranging from elaborate embroidered waistcoats dating from the 1700s to the work of contemporary international and Australian fashion labels including Chanel, Akira Isogawa and Romance Was Born. We also have important designer archives from Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson including their original artwork for textiles and garments, stunning fashion photography and even business records. In addition there are significant manufacturer’s archives from companies like Speedo which document the evolution of competitive swimwear from the racer back woollen Speedos of the 1930s to today’s high tech suits. Through filmed interviews and photography we collect and document the richness and diversity of subcultural and alternative dressing in Australia, from Mods to Metalheads and Goths to DIY punks.

How long have you been working at the Museum? Since 1985

Favourite object in the collection? I love wearing elastic sided boots and never get over the thrill of looking at the first pair of ‘elastic’ sided boots invented by Joseph Sparkes Hall (94/88/1). These very dainty boots are Sparkes Hall’s prototype version of the elastic-sided boot and were presented to Queen Victoria in 1837. At the time they hadn’t perfected the use of elastic rubber in clothing so the gussets are actually made of coiled wire, Sparkes Hall had to wait a few years for rubber technology to catch up with his invention. Another favourite is a collection of photographs by Melbourne based photographer Ilana Rose which document aspects of subcultural and alternative style in Sydney and Melbourne. I love Ilana’s ability to capture her subject’s often spectacular and highly expressive style. I also can’t go past the extraordinary dress embroidered by outsider artist Madge Gill. Made in the 1940s it’s a simple cotton dress which is covered in an explosion of bold freestyle embroidery. And then there’s……………………………..

What piece of research or exhibition are you most proud of in your career at the Museum? Initiating the collecting and documenting of Australian subcultural and alternative style as part of our dress collection. This is one of the most creative and innovative areas of dress; the richness and diversity of its expressions, the way it challenges or reworks traditions and aesthetic codes and the play on gender, age, race, status and body image means the study of subcultural style offers us new ways of thinking about dress. From this research I was able to contribute an article on the history of Australian subcultural style to the recently published Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion.

In terms of exhibitions I loved working on Sourcing the Muse. Eight Australian designers were invited to look through the Museum’s textile and dress collection and select items to use as a source of inspiration for a new work. It was fascinating to see what they chose and to watch the creative process as they translated their inspiration into a finished garment. They didn’t focus on the most visually spectacular or historically significant pieces in the collection. Instead I found them to be most attracted to details of construction, the inside of garments, dress components, decorative techniques from all around the world and in one case the deterioration of historic dress. I enjoy taking designers and researchers into our basement store; they always make me look at the collection in new ways.

6 responses to “Meet the curator- Glynis Jones

  • Hi Ms Jones,

    My name is Samantha, an final year undergraduate student studying in Melbourne. As part of a journalism subject I am writing an online thinkpiece (purely for academic purposes and not for publishing) on the revival of fashion trends such as enamel pins and embroidered patches, and would love to email and potentially interview you for further insight. I was told to contact you by Professor Peter McNeil, and hope that you could send me a reply either on this comment or to my email if possible.

    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon,
    Samantha

  • I would like to contact Glynis Jones relating to a profile she wrote on Dorothy McLean who has been a long serving volunteer . This was some years ago possibly ….

    • Hi Catherine, thanks for your interest in contacting our curator Glynis. I believe she is contacting you directly.
      Sarah Reeves, Assistant Curator

  • Glynis Jones,
    My grandmother was a dressmaker in Paris and London in late 19th century. I have an old beautiful embroidered waist coat and a gold raised thread coat. Both are in very good condition .I would like to send you a photo of each,to see if they are of any interest.would you so kind as send me an email address.if they are of no interest to you maybe you could point me in the right direction.
    Thank you , Francis Henry-May

    • Hi Francis,
      Thanks for your comment and the information about the coats that you have from your grandmother. If you have items that you are considering donating could you please email us at cur-enquiries@maas.museum with photos of each and they will be forwarded on to Glynis or another suitable curator. Thanks again for getting in touch.
      Kind regards,
      Sarah Reeves, Assistant Curator

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