Name: Denise Larcombe
Which of the Museum’s sites do you volunteer at: Powerhouse Museum
How long have you been volunteering at MAAS: Since 2007
What’s your background: After Studying Industrial Design at East Sydney Technical College I worked in lighting Design and then joined Crown Crystal Glass as an Industrial Designer in 1967. Crown Crystal Glass and Corning Glassworks USA formed a joint venture in 1972 and the company name changed to Crown Corning I was appointed as Design Manager. I later moved into Design education teaching at UTS and TAFE.
What made you decide to Volunteer at MAAS: During the 1980s I assembled a collection of 450 items of historic glassware manufactured by Crown Crystal Glass from the 1920s through to the 1960s, this became part of the MAAS collection. Over the years a few of my own designs found their way into the collection. I worked for the company for 23 years and continued as a consultant until the glassworks closed in the 1990s. Over this time I had kept many examples of my glass designs, my sketches, some technical drawings, press clippings and Design Awards. I offered the glass and my archive to Dr Paul Donnelly, then curator for design and society at MAAS, in 2007. I began working with Paul to document the acquisition. I later moved to visitor experience at the Powerhouse demonstrating weaving, my other creative passion.
What do you/have you enjoyed most about volunteering here: Working with Paul and seeing his commitment to design was very rewarding. I am currently working in the makers’ space of the Akira Isogawa exhibition. It has been inspiring working with lace makers, embroiderers and spinners as we learn about each other’s work and exchange ideas. The public interest has been great, particularly from textile and design students and teachers who are keen to learn more about hand-made and hand-embroidered textiles.
Do you have a favourite object from the Museum’s collection? The clock designed by Archibald Knox, now on show in the Icons exhibition, is one of my favourite objects. Archibald Knox was a Manxman and I was introduced to his work by my Manx cousin. My great grandparents came to Australia from the Isle of Man in 1882. Archibald Knox worked for Liberty of London and his work is exquisite. I was fortunate to purchase one of his silver brooches from a jeweller in Peel on the Isle of Man during one of my visits there. I pass by that lovely clock on my way to the makers’ space each time I am at the Museum
What’s happening at the Museum right now that you’re excited about? I am always excited to see some Australian Design on show. Last year I recorded an interview with Tim Ross and I know he has taken a collection of Australian work on tour. Learning about the work Akira Isogawa from Roger Leong and Kristina Stankovski has given an insight into the work of the wonderful creative man.