Life On The Job


Famous or Historic People

Famous Australian Entrepreneur and Wallpaper Designer -  Florence Maud Broadhurst  (28 July 1899  15 October 1977)

Florence Broadhurst
(Source: A.Clore Interiors: Florence Broadhurst meets Kate Spade)

 

"It’s an accomplishment in itself to impact your time & generation, but to have enduring popularity and style, which exceeds trends and decades, is an incredible feat. Imagine if the work you created today shaped the industry you work in 50 years from now. Such a remarkable achievement can be claimed by the influential Queensland born designer, Florence Broadhurst, best known for her recognisable wallpaper designs.

Florence shook the Australian design industry in more ways then one. After Declaring “Australia to be afraid of colour” she set out to revolutionise the conservative design industry of her time. With notorious ambition, Florence launched her handprint wallpaper studio in Sydney, going on to produce over 500 top-selling wallpaper designs."
(Source:
Hunter Design School)

From the mid 19th century, wallpapers used in Australia had predominantly been imported from Britain, but also from France, Canada and America. In 1959, Florence Broadhurst decided to buck the trend. Turning 60, she established Australian (Hand-Printed) Wallpapers (renamed Florence Broadhurst Wallpapers in 1969). It is this, her final design and production venture, as well as her reputation as a colourful Sydney personality with an A-list of prestigious clients, and her still-unresolved murder in 1977, for which Broadhurst is best remembered today. (Source: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences)

Some of Florence's wallpaper designs
- which one do you like the most?

Poppy Rouge Print Japanese Floral
Red Black
York Egrets FB
Grande Cookatoos Black
Blues Horses

 

Introduction


Born into a farming family in outback Australia in 1899, by her mid-twenties she was a singer and
dancer in Shanghai, setting up her own performing arts academy. By the 1930s, she ran a fashion
boutique in London’s Mayfair under the name Madame Pellier, before sweeping into Sydney society with a whole new persona – as a painter and charity queen, with a husband (her second) and a son.

But it was in her last incarnation that she really made her mark, shaking up conservative Australia with her bold, exotic wallpapers.

Now, more than 100 years after her birth, her work has been rediscovered by the world’s leading fashion, interior and homeware designers and her prints are in huge demand internationally. (Source: Study Guide on Unfolding Florence)

 

Her Life

Florence Broadhurst was born in the rural area of Mount Perry, South East Queensland in the year 1899 (Source: Woollahra Municipal Council). Florence was the fourth child of William and Margaret Broadhurst (Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography).
At an early age Florence began singing and dancing and in 1915 at the age of 16 she won a singing competition and began “performing in various towns and cities in Queensland”
(Source: Signature Prints).


In the early 1920’s Florence moved away from Australia and joined a musical comedy group called the ‘Globe Trotters’ and toured India, South East Asia and China. In 1926 Florence started a School of Art in Shanghai China, at this school Florence taught people how to play musical instruments, sing, dance (both contemporary and classical) and learn how to be a journalist (Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography).

Two years later (1929) Florence married an English stockbroker, however their marriage didn’t last and after separating, she became involved with a diesel engineer who became the father of her son. (Source: Mater Home Prize)

In 1933, Florence moved to London England where she opened up a dress shop and renamed herself ‘Madame Pellier’. When World War 2 broke out in 1939 Florence joined the “Australian Women’s Voluntary Services, which offered hospitality to Australian soldiers” (Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography).

In 1949 Florence moved back to Australia to live in Sydney with her second husband Leonard Lewis and their son Robert, by this time Florence had changed her name to Mrs Florence Lewis (Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography). On her arrival Florence began to hone her skills in the art of painting, which saw her travel to central and northern Australia where she used the natural scenery as an inspiration for her one hundred plus landscape paintings. These paintings were later exhibited at art exhibitions in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra (Source: Woollahra Municipal Council). Florence’s love of painting and art saw her later become one of the “foundation members of the Art Gallery of NSW and a member of the Interior Designers of Australia” (Source: Woollahra Municipal Council)


In 1959, at the age of 60 Florence established a wallpaper business that employed herself and a small team of artists that produced “a wide range of high quality, luxurious wallpapers”  (Source: Woollahra Municipal Council). Often these wallpapers included “oversized patterns, vivid colour combinations, brightly coloured peacocks and bold geometrical designs.”  (Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography). Florence also made innovations with her wallpapers such as “printing on metallic surfaces, developing washable vinyl coated wallpaper and creating a special drying rack system that allowed her wallpapers to be produced in large quantities.” Soon Florence and her Wallpaper designs were being exported around the world to places such as “North America, England, Hawaii, Kuwait, Peru, Norway and Paris.”  (Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography).

In 1962 her second marriage dissolved when he left her for a woman much younger than their own son. (Source: Mater Home Prize)

Also during this time in the 1950’s, 60’s and early 1970’s Florence became involved in many charities and fund raising events such as “designing the festoon decorations for the 1964 Die Fledermaus Opera House Ball, and acting as vice-president and honorary organiser for the United Nations Association of Australia international ball committee in 1966. And in the 1970’s she was connected with the Royal Art Society, the Sydney Opera House appeal and the Australian Red Cross Society”  (Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography).  

Sadly in 1977 Florence was found murdered in her wallpaper work place in Sydney, and although police investigations were carried out, Florence’s killer has remained unidentified to this day. Sad as it is to lose a person such as Florence, her memory and work live on through designated commemorative spaces at the Sydney Powerhouse Museum, and through ‘Signature Prints’ a small Sydney based Wallpaper business that bought the rights to Florence’s designs and work, and uses her wallpaper again in all corners of the world.

Did You Know?

 Florence’s life has been captured by Gillian Armstrong and transferred to film.

Unfolding Florence

The 2006 Australian documentary includes interviews with friends, family members and employees who knew Florence Broadhurst before her mysterious death in 1977. The film had a mixed critical response and was nominated for 4 awards despite being relatively obscure. (Source: Wikipedia)

GILLIAN ARMSTRONG interview: "UNFOLDING FLORENCE"
(URL: https://youtu.be/GLTzYhSXytY )


 
Florence Broadhurst lived an amazing life. From her humble beginnings on a Queensland farm, through to her metamorphosis into a cabaret performer, Shanghai dance teacher and design pioneer. Not content with reality, she reinvented her past and embraced a colourful and flamboyant lifestyle. Acclaimed director Gillian Armstrong reveals the many lives of this glamorous, complicated and unconventional woman whose legacy continues to live on through her spectacular prints. (Source: iTunes Review)


For Teachers - 11 page PDF Study Guide on Unfolding Florence




Links:

Signature Prints

Signature

Woollahra Municipal Council

Woollahra Municipal Council
National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery
Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

MAAS

Materialised

Materialised



Australian Dictionary of Biography

ADB
Skills One TV

Skills One TV





Video

YouTube: Florence Broadhurst | The Life, The Enigma, The Icon, The Legacy
https://youtu.be/4s9Dymq4-f0

 

Activities

TeacherTeacher  - English, SOSE (HSIE), Media, Art & Design

11 page PDF Study Guide on Unfolding Florence produced by Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) by Marguerite O'Hara

Using Unfolding Florence in the classroom 

Given that this film covers more than seventy years and includes a great deal of information as it unfolds Florence’s many lives and times, teachers may choose to select one of the four sets of questions that follow, depending on the students’ level and particular interests and/or area of study.

For SOSE (HSIE) students, the picture presented of a woman’s life spanning the first seventy-eight years of the 20th century in Australia and elsewhere, Living in the Seventies, the first set of questions, may be the focus.

Media Studies teachers and students may find the second set of questions, Unfolding Florence, most interesting, as they deal with the structure and style of the film as an example of documentary biography.

Students of Art and Design may choose to look more closely at the second part of the film, when Florence is developing her wallpaper business and respond to the Colour and Design questions.

English students may prefer to look at how Gillian Armstrong creates this complex and not always complimentary picture of a woman who chose to live in her own way at a time when
this was not always easy or admired. The I am Florence questions will best suit this approach.

Both the list of characters and the sets of quotes (following these activities), from both Florence and the people interviewed, are there to assist students in appreciating the film and responding to the questions.

Note: The Office of Film and Literature Classification has classified the film PG (parental guidance recommended), with the consumer advice: infrequent mild coarse language, mild themes.

 

Create accessories that make use of Florence's designs (contributed by Melanie Sheehan, ACU Education student)

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

1. Florence's designs have had a resurgence with young designers using her designs in various ways.  Florence’s wallpapers have been “reinterpreted as fabric prints by Akira Isogawa, Nicole Zimmerman and other leading Fashion designers.

Isogawa
‘Waterfall Gardens’ coat, ‘Alfalfa’ tunic dress and ‘Alfalfa’ leggings, designed and made by Akira Isogawa, Sydney, 2007, MAAS collection, 2007/95/1
Bag
Coat Cup Saucer Plate
Wallpaper in bathroom
Products

In the spirit of Florence Broadhurst, you are to draw and create a design. Make it simple in your lines, bold and colourful.

Draw a simple picture that you would like to use as a stencil onto either thick paper or plastic. Just make sure that the design you create has lines that connect as this makes the design easier to cut and then print.
o NOTE: If you don’t want to draw your own picture, you can use an image from the internet, or a design pattern such as a Florence Broadhurst wallpaper design.

2. Cut paper and create a template:
Once you have created your picture or design, cut it out with scissors or a craft scalpel so you have the outline of the picture available to use as a stencil.

3. Stenciling the template:
Place the cut-out template onto a new piece of paper and paint over the template using either the bristles of a paintbrush or a special craft sponge.

4. Share your design and stencil with a partner.

5. What sort of material or object would you like to see with your design on it?

Resources

The following websites and videos contain a step by step account of how to select a picture off the internet and then turn it into a stencil.

Iris Makes Stuff's - How to create a stencil without photoshop!

Wiki How – How to create a stencil from a picture using Microsoft Word.

Wiki How – How to make spray paint stencils

Video

How to create a stencil OF ANYTHING
https://youtu.be/BzQ38ER3aSg

 

How to Make Stencils
https://youtu.be/gvYU3bqlwH8

 

 

Google Doodle Design (contributed by Ella Barry, ACU Education Student)

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

1. Florence was born on the 28th of July 1899. You are to create a google doodle for the website which can be displayed on the 28th of July each year to celebrate Florence’s birthday.

How can you educate Australians about Florence with your Google Doodle?

2. To get some ideas look at the following Google Doodles:

Google Doodle
Norway National Day
Australian Elections 2013

Google Doodle
Australian Poet Dorothea MacKellar's 126 Birthday

Doodle
Albert Namatjira's 115 Birthday

Doodle

3. Make sure the google banner encapsulates Florence’s design flair!

Google

3. Can you make your design into animated gif like the Halloween example? Go to the following site to make your doodle special using Scratch:

Doodle



4. Compare with other students in your group of 4 - 5 students and explain your reasoning behind your design.

5. What would be another way to celebrate this famous Australian?


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