Rare Books: The Art of Mathematics

rare books illustration usyd

The exhibition will chart a course beginning at the close of the 1400s and relate a coherent and comprehensive narrative about the developments of mathematics (and science more generally) through to the nineteenth century. It will achieve this through reference to the art of mathematics. That is, through the scientific diagrams and engraved frontispieces that accompany the Library’s collection of treatises on mathematical topics. The exhibition will, therefore, draw on Laura Kotevska’s expertise as a historian and philosopher of mathematics to convey the rich and varied developments that took place during this period. The exhibition will include some of the most significant holdings of the Rare Books & Special Collections.

Located on Level 1 of Fisher Library, this exhibition runs from 13 August 2018 to 10 February 2019.

Exhibition: The Seeds of Songs and the Songs of Seeds: Warlpiri and Anmatyerr Women’s Songs

Yawulyu are a genre of Warlpiri women’s songs which encode knowledge of links to country, kinship connections and Dreaming stories as well as detailed ethnobiological knowledge from this unique region in the desert of Central Australia. This exhibition visually and auditorily presents this endangered genre of Indigenous Australian music through showcasing examples of Ngurlu ‘Seed’ and Watiyawarnu ‘Acacia tenuissima’ yawulyu sung by Warlpiri women from Yuendumu, Willowra and Alekerenge. This exhibition also features artwork and photographs of Warlpiri women singing, painting up and dancing these yawulyu.

This exhibition is at the Conservatorium Library from 6 August – 6 October.

Rare Books: Bookstall Company Exhibition

Rare Books and Special Collections are sharing with us these historical treasures in the Bookstall Company exhibition in Fisher Library, beginning on 30th July.

This was a retail publishing success story. Between 1904 and 1946 the NSW Bookstall Company released 234 books. The company sold books through its newsagencies, included smaller press items in its distribution network for a fee, and survived the Great Depression.

The Bookstall outlets were well situated at railway stations to sell a range of entertaining books to travellers when the 22.5 km journey from Central to Parramatta could take 50 minutes by train.
The settings and stories appealed to the diverse tastes of readers – Australian bush idylls and dangers, Pacific adventures, humour, romance, bushrangers, and Australian history. Read today, the stories reveal a view of life and values from a harsher time in Australia’s history.

The soft cover design with attention-grabbing cover art and illustrations throughout appealed to the public. Australian artists were contracted for this work, further linking the Bookstall Company to national identity and pride in the product.

Rare Books and Special Collections hold many of the N.S.W. Bookstall Co. publications, contracts, and 153 original book cover designs and illustrations. The exhibition using this material has been curated by Dr Peter Kirkpatrick (Associate Professor of Australian Literature) and Dr Anita Callaway (Nelson Meers Foundation Lecturer in Australian Art). Visit our exhibition and imagine Australia in the time of family farms, remote islands, and long train journeys.


bookstall company cover

Rare Books: Perspectives of an Outsider

University Library

Drawing on historical materials from the Rare Books and Special Collections in the Fisher Library, Perspectives of an Outsider is an exhibition featuring on Thomas Allom’s 4-volume books China Illustrated which were first published by Fisher Son & Co. in 1845 in London. Thomas Allom was a well-known British traveler and illustrator in the 19th Century. These 173-year-old travel books have 75 steel engravings of original sketches by Thomas Allom and descriptive letters of Chinese social habits and scenery written by an Irish clergyman, G.N. Wright.

Perspectives of an Outsider is an exhibition that explores ‘what’ Thomas Allom as a British travel artist fascinated with and analyze ‘how’ he depicted Chinese social life using the art historical concept of Orientalism. Digging into ‘what’ and ‘how’, visitors will be able to see the 19th century China from an outsider’s perspectives. Outsider’s perspectives can be fresh, valuable and epigrammatic while sometimes full of discrimination, bias and prejudice. Through Alloms’ eyes, visitors can gain an insight into Chinese history of the 19th century, the so-called ‘century of humiliation’. This exhibition also reminds us of the importance of cultural diversity and respect for cultural uniqueness. As there are no two identical leaves in the world, each of us is different.

When: 2 July 2018 – 31 August 2018

Where: Fisher Library Cases

Indonesian music exhibition

Promo kantilan A

This exhibition celebrates the Conservatorium’s longstanding relationship with gamelan music and dance traditions of Indonesia. Gamelan music is the traditional ensemble music of Bali. It consists mainly of percussion instruments.

The study and performance of Balinese gamelan music has been an active component of Conservatorium of Music life since 1999. This exhibition highlights current research by Niall Edwards-FitzSimons on Acehnese dance, the repatriation of ethnographic recordings from the early twentieth century and the influence of gamelan on composition students at the Conservatorium.

When: 2 April – 26 May 2018
Where: Conservatorium Library
Contact: admin.library@sydney.edu.au

New exhibition: ephemera

Photo by Jeannie Ho as part of the ephemera exhibition in Fisher Library

Experience our new exhibition in Fisher Library curated by the University of Sydney’s Master of Art Curation students.

From 19 October 2017; 9am-5pm

Where: Fisher Library, Levels 2,3,4

ephemera presents a distinct thematic experience that is inherently sensory; presenting a consideration of the ways in which art can either directly engage with a multitude of sensory engagements, or disrupt the potential to do so. Through engagement with senses, particularly touch and sound, ephemera provokes sensory experiences. This intentionally goes beyond the expected visually focused works to be found within the context of an art exhibition. While several works take a directed approach to sensations, others take a less literal approach, engaging viewers through more meditative and almost subliminal interactions.

A subtle influence on a sensational experience

Art work by Harry Seeley as part of the ephemera art exhibition in Fisher Library level 2The works and artists we have brought together gently provoke musings on the way in which we personally, internally and sensationally experience the world that surrounds us. All of ephemera’s incorporated works are all incredibly affective, however they communicate this with subtlety. They do not present an overt depiction of the sentiments they intend to convey, but rather influence the viewer on an emotive or sensational level, in a way that may not be instantly perceptible, becoming impactful through a more sustained engagement with the work in situ.

The artists

The Fisher Library segment of the exhibition presents works by Jeanie Ho and Harry Seeley. These two artists individually capture the essence of the exhibition through their incredibly delicate yet powerful works. The ephemerality encapsulated within the artworks themselves is further developed through the serendipitous encounters afforded by the library space, and the way in which it is utilised on a daily basis not purely as an exhibiting space but rather a space in which library visitors may unexpectedly encounter the works of art in situ and be affected unexpectedly by what they encounter.

A big thank you to Donna Brett and the Fisher Library staff for all your support and thank you to the artists for your hard work and great team work over the last couple of months.

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