Listening Back exhibition and symposium at the Conservatorium Library

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music Library is currently hosting a new exhibition, Listening Back, that highlights the works of past and present students.

Centring on historical Conservatorium staff members Cyril Monk and Phyllis McDonald as well as student Patrick Moore MacMahon ‘The Flying Fiddler’, Listening Back is comprised of relics and resources that reveal information about the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s significant history.

Curated by violinist and PhD student Julia Russoniello in collaboration with artist Victoria Monk (who is related to featured violinist Cyril Monk), the show features various ephemera that give voices to long forgotten echoes from the Conservatorium of Music’s past. The exhibition celebrates the deep, rich history of the Conservatorium with a familial touch.  

This exhibition will be celebrated with a launch event on Friday 15 September, where Julia Russoniello and Victoria Monk will activate the research exhibition through a symposia on the works of Cyril Monk and his peers, Victoria’s memories of her grandfather and her creative process in creating the exhibited sculptures, and Julia will play excerpts from Monk’s historical music scores on violin to reimagine his musical works.

Listening Back will run from 10 August – 6 October 2023 at the the Conservatorium of Music Library. 

At The Vanishing Point: the Souvenirs, Merchandise and Memorabilia of International Law

Currently on display in Rare Books and Specials Collections (level 1, Fisher Library) is a fascinating exhibition that focuses on the material objects of international law institutions like the United Nations and The Hague. 

The exhibition, At the Vanishing Point: the Souvenirs and merchandise of International Law is curated by Dr Emily Crawford and Associate Professor Jacqueline Mowbray from the University of Sydney, Associate Professor Daniel Joyce from the UNSW and Associate Professor Jessie Hohmann from UTS, in collaboration with Emily Kang (Rare Books & Special Collections Liaison Librarian, East Asian Collection).

The exhibition interrogates international law and international institutions through the lens of merchandise, memorabilia, and souvenirs. It showcases numerous vintage and contemporary souvenirs to prompt conversation and reflection about what such objects and imagery say about the role of international law in the social and cultural zeitgeist. 

In this exhibition, we reflect on the material objects of international law institutions like the United Nations and its agencies and interrogate international law and international institutions through the lens of merchandise, memorabilia, and souvenirs. How do international organisations present themselves to the world (by way of their gift shops or commercial collaborations) and how does society at large perceive of international law and international institutions (through invocation of international law in commercial imagery and objects)?

Dr Emily Crawford

At the Vanishing Point is on display now until 2024 in Rare Books and Special Collections on level 1 of Fisher Library. 

Eric Lobbecke | Listening Devices exhibition

Political cartoonist Eric Lobbecke’s latest exhibition will challenge your visual perception while forcing you to contemplate our current political climate. Listening devices was inspired by reactions to our last federal election. Look long enough and you may start to recognise political figures from today and the not-too-distant past. 

Can males hear an unfamiliar revolutionary female human rights language through Listening devices?

Eric Lobbecke

Confronting, distorted and visceral images reflect on a political sphere where female voices have not always been valued, let alone even heard. Utilising three different media digital oil paintings, video and sculpture the images will stay with you long after your initial visit. 

Eric is a renowned cartoonist and graphic designer, who has worked for The Australian and Crikey, amongst many other publications.

The exhibition is presented a collaboration with the School of Languages and Cultures and is supported by the Australasian Humour Studies Network (ASHN) as part of the Humour as a Human Right 2023 conference. 

Listening Devices is currently in display in the Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library until late September 2023. 

The Library recently hosted a panel discussion with Eric Lobbecke which can be viewed on our YouTube channel

Floating between Couches and Motels

The Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library is currently showcasing an intriguing exhibition that would make any of us think again while checking in at the next hotel.  

Dr Carolyn McKay, Sydney Law School Criminologist and artist, has designed a unique installation that looks at transgressions that take place in hotel rooms. 

The idea came to Dr McKay while teaching criminal law at the Sydney law School.  

I have attempted to theorise the motel room as a site chosen for criminal transgression, asking: What is it about these private-but-shared spaces that enables, perhaps beckons, criminal behaviour? And what tangible and intangible traces remain?

Dr Carolyn McKay

Utilising neon light, the installation uses words and phrases that evoke a sense of invaded privacy and lost optimism of the motel spaces McKay visited during her research. Party lights suggesting good times juxtaposed with neon words hinting at the evil deeds that took place within the hotel walls. 

Dr McKay explains: “These selected phrases seemed to be particularly evocative and almost poetic; together they are suggestive of a unique crime scene. Motels are supposed to be places of restful stay or holiday, but these phrases subvert that concept.” 

More information on Dr McKay’s Crime Scene Motel Project 

Floating between Couches and Motels is currently on display at the Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library. 

Unissued Diplomas

“When your classroom turns into a battlefield, your major becomes bravery” 

Fisher Library recently became the latest stop for a moving exhibition titled Unissued Diplomas. This exhibition was a display of unissued university diplomas awarded to Ukrainian students killed in the recent Russian invasion. 

Unissued Diplomas is a travelling international exhibition telling the stories of 36 lives lost. Each diploma has a short biography of each student highlighting their areas of study and their general interests. Each diploma is signed “Bravery”. 

The exhibition, which has been shown in more than 20 countries around the world, brings home the horrors of war and the loss of lives robbed of their potential. The display of the show at the University of Sydney was coordinated by Dr Olga Boichak (Lecturer in Digital Cultures, Media and Communications).

Prior to its display at Fisher Library, the exhibition was shown at Chau Chak Wing Museum where distinguished guest Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, visited the show.

Unissued Diplomas was on display in Fisher Library from 24 – 30 July 2023. 

More information on the exhibition can be found on the Unissued Diplomas website

Shakespeare Beyond All Limits now on display in Fisher Library

400 years ago, in 1623, the first collected works of Shakespeare were published under the title Mr William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories & Tragedies. This impressive book – prepared after Shakespeare’s death in 1616 by his former acting colleagues John Heminge and Henry Condell – ran to over 900 pages and contained 36 plays by Shakespeare, 18 of which had not been printed before.

Among the latter were such influential works as Macbeth, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and As You Like It. Without the publication of the First Folio these extraordinary plays and more may have never appeared in print and achieved their powerful global impact.

In celebration of the 400th anniversary, this new exhibition – Shakespeare Beyond All Limits – displays books from Rare Books & Special Collections associated with Shakespeare’s First Folio and 3D-printed sculptures of Shakespeare and his characters by artist Simon Fieldhouse. The exhibition illustrates the historical origins of the Folio text and gives examples of how the plays have been interpreted over time through to the present.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, staff at the Fisher library made a remarkable discovery. References were found in an old catalogue entry to some loose leaves from a First Folio.

Huw Griffiths

These Shakespeare sculptures are 3D resin prints. Each sculpture is created on a computer after the preliminary pencil drawings and ideas have been formulated. The programmes primarily used to create the sculptures are Blender and Z-Brush and then post processed and printed with Chitubox and an Anycubic Mono Photon X 3D printer. The prints are produced in a monotone grey resin colour and then hand painted with acrylic paint and finished with airbrushing.

It took nearly 18 months to learn to use the necessary computer programming and there was much trial and error.

Simon Fieldhouse

The exhibition was curated by Liam Semler (Professor of Early Modern Literature) and Huw Griffiths (Associate Professor of English Literature), in collaboration with Emily Kang (Rare Books & Special Collections Liaison Librarian, East Asian Collection).

The exhibition covers nine topics including folios, quatros and loose leaves; a closer look at The Life and Death of Julius Caesar and Hamlet, the trope of the tortured tyrant; and Shakespeare and popular culture.

The exhibition will also complement the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association conference that will be held at the University of Sydney from 7-9 December 2023 and is also titled Shakespeare beyond all limits.

… Shakespeare was a man of his time and his unconscious values and cultural biases, which are reflected in his works, complicate and problematise his global reception nowadays.

Liam Semler