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Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre

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Living with Ruth Lane-Poole: an Interior Legacy

A seminar exploring the legacy of Ruth Lane-Poole and her crucial contribution to the establishment of two of Canberra's most iconic dwellings: the Prime Minister's Lodge and the Governor General's residence at Yarralumla.

Welcome and introduction

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Barbara McConchie, Executive Director, Craft ACT

Dr David Headen

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Cultural consultant and historian, and formerly the Director of the Centre for Australian Cultural Studies. Headen is Advisor on the Centenary of Canberra (ACT Government) and Advisor to Senator Kate Lundy.

Ruth Pollexfen's international context

The influence of the Yeats family on Ruth Pollexfen was profound. Her crucial Dublin years involved exposure to a host of the late nineteenth century Western world's most progressive ideas and thinkers. This short paper will discuss a selection of the most prominent of those ideas - some, enthusiastically utopian - and give them a broad global and Canberra context.

Rowan Henderson

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Acting Senior Curator Social History, Canberra Museum and Gallery.

It's a man's world, but a woman's realm

Ruth Lane-Poole may have decorated the residences of the nation's Prime Minister and Governor General, but throughout her time in Canberra she was better know as Mrs Charles Edward Lane-Poole. This talk will explore the contribution of Mrs Lane-Poole, and her family, to the social life of Canberra during the family's residence there from 1927 - 1945.

John Dargavel

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Visiting Fellow, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University.

Ruth Pollexfen to Ruth Lane-Poole: Her Dublin Years

Ruth Pollexfen was gathered into the artistic world of the Yeats family when she was fifteen and made a ward of her cousin Lily Yeats in 1901. It was the time of the Irish artistic renaissance. Lily and Lolly Yeats set up Arts and Crafts workshops in the William Morris tradition. Ruth was trained in embroidery, printing and painting by her cousins and uncle.

Dr Susan Mary Withycombe

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Has lived in Canberra for more than 30 years, and has written several books and articles about its district and people.

Designing homes for Australia: Principles and Ideas

As Ruth Lane-Poole was designing the official residence for the Australian Governor General and Prime Minister, she published a series of articles in a new popular magazine, The Australian Home Beautiful. These articles provide the artist's own commentary on the furniture, furnishings and decorating schemes she created for the Governor General's House and the Prime Minister's Lodge.

Mrs Phyllis Hamilton

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Phyllis, third daughter of Ruth and Charles Lane-Poole, was born in 1922 while Ruth was in Dundrum, Dublin. Ruth and the girls moved to Melbourne when Phyllis was four. Charles was in New Guinea and she met him for the first time when he later joined the family in Melbourne. He left for the Federal Capital Territory with Phyllis's older sisters, who attended school at Glebe House (later to be St Gabriel's School.) Ruth and Phyllis remained in Melbourne with the girls' nanny who cared for Phyllis while her mother was busy writing articles for Australian Home Beautiful, planning her Rocks furnishing displays, advising Myers's department store on furniture, decorating houses in Toorak, as well as the decoration of the Lodge and the Governor General's Residence, Yarralumla. In 1927 the family moved to Westridge House which had been designed and built for them by Harold Desbrowe. The House was next to the Australian Forestry School where Charles was Commonwealth Inspector General of Forests.

Greg Peters

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Director, Patinations Furniture Conservation Services Pty Ltd.

Ruth Lane-Poole: "A Working Collection"

A growing awareness and knowledge of Ruth's furniture has sparked concerns that this historically important collection is not recognised or appreciated as a national treasure. As possibly our first woman furniture designer, the designer of furniture for our first Prime Minister's and Governor General's Residences, and as a designer who had fantastic access to our finest native timbers through her husband's connections and knowledge of Australian Forestry, Ruth Lane-Poole's legacy deserves to be celebrated as one of Australia's most complete furniture collections.

Eleanor Goodwin

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Has worked at the National Library of Australia for almost 10 years and in the Library's Pictures Branch since 2004.

Poole-ing resources at the National Library of Australia

The National Library of Australia has within its collections many items which relate to Ruth Lane-Poole. The most significant of these is a collection of furniture designs by Ruth for both the Government House and the Lodge in Canberra. This presentation explores both what the Library holds and how it can be accessed.

David Headen
Ruth Lane Poole.
Photo: Courtesy of Phyliss Hamilton
Rowan Henderson
The newly completed Westridge House, 1928. Collection of the National Archives of Australia Susan Mary Withycombe
Ruth Lane Poole.
Photo: Courtesy of Phyliss Hamilton
Phyllis Hamilton
Ruth Lane Poole.
Photo: Courtesy of Phyliss Hamilton
Greg Peters
Prime Minister's Lodge, interior staircase and hall, Canberra, 1927, Ruth Lane-Poole 1885-1974. Collection of the National Library of Australia