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Marion Hall Best: Interiors

23 Jun 2018 - 19 Aug 2018

A major survey exhibition that colourfully charted the work of one of Australia’s first and most influential independent interior designers.

Described as electrifying, vital and avant-garde, Best’s interior decorating schemes were unashamedly modern at a time when other interior designers preferred a subdued palette and period furniture. She claimed that “gentle, soft colours … are not restful, but dreary, sapping the energy and the mind”; by contrast, “bright clear colours challenge the mind.” Her interior decorating style vibrated with colour through her signature glazed painted finishes on walls and ceilings.

Best had a love of colour and an uncanny ability to use it to transform a room. This exhibition came from Sydney Living Museums which holds the largest collection of textiles, furnishings, ephemera and imagery relating to Best’s work, much of which was on display in the exhibition which showcased her career. Her interiors vibrated with bold colours and patterns and a signature of her commissioned interiors was her vibrant glazed painted finishes on walls and ceilings. 

Although she designed mostly private commissions, Best’s work was promoted more broadly through photographs and articles in popular magazines and newspapers, exhibition display rooms and in her two shops in Queen Street, Woollahra (1939–74) and Rowe Street, Sydney (1949–61).

Best was inspired by the modernist movement and colour theory of artists of the interwar years. She is attributed with introducing international modernism to the Australian market through importing furniture and furnishings from all over the world including: textiles by Marimekko, Jim Thompson Thai silks and Indian cottons, French wallpapers from Nobilis and Follot, furniture by Knoll, Herman Miller and Cassina, lighting from Flos and Iittala.

"We are delighted to have an exhibition from Sydney Living Museums and this is another example of how Hazelhurst Arts Centre works collaboratively with other museums and galleries to bring outstanding exhibitions to the Sutherland Shire for people to enjoy" said Sutherland Shire Mayor, Carmelo Pesce.

"This exhibition colourfully charts the work of Marion Hall Best and will display original furniture, fabrics, furnishings and fashion over the four decades from the mid-1930s" said Belinda Hanrahan, Director, Hazelhurst Arts Centre. "We are thrilled to bring this vibrant exhibition to Hazelhurst Arts Centre as Marion Best was such an important designer, who many people will remember."

Sydney Living Museum’s Michael Lech, Curator of the exhibition said “Best’s ability to transform space through colour has rarely been matched. Her work, once seen, was seldom forgotten.”

Marion Hall Best: Interiors celebrated modernism in Australia and the renewed public interest in its bold, simple, aesthetic.  


Image:  A room for Mary Quant’, display room designed by Marion Best for the Rooms on View exhibition, Daily Telegraph Home Centre, Sydney, 1967 (detail). Mary White, 1967. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums. Photo © Estate of Mary White.

More Information: 02 8536 5700

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