School of Architecture

Thursday 10 January 2019

Home: a suburban obsession

Currently on show at the State Library of Queensland, ‘Home: A Suburban Obsession’ explores the allure of the suburban home through the curation of one of the largest single photographic collections of Australian housing in existence – The Frank and Eunice Corley Collection.

The exhibition includes an interactive map allowing visitors to search for images of their homes in the 1960s and 70s and an immersive virtual reality streetscape, developed by UQ researcher Dr Fred Fialho Leandro Alves Teixeira, that takes visitors back in time to experience the suburban surroundings.

Head of the School of Architecture Dr Cameron Bruhn said UQ was proud to take part in the iconic exhibition.

“This exhibition explores the social, historical and cultural foundations of our homes through the incredible legacy of Frank and Eunice Corley,” he said.

“To have access to these photographs and be able to contribute to this exhibition is incredible.”

Frank and Eunice Corley made a living photographing homes throughout Brisbane and Queensland in the 1960s and 70s.

Perched in a pink Cadillac with camera in hand, Frank shot any house visible from the street and Eunice operated a strategically placed mobile dark room from the back of a van. This allowed them to promptly develop, print and hawk the resulting images to householders as calendars and Christmas cards that celebrated their slice of suburban splendour.

Any prints that weren’t sold were kept by Frank and the resulting collection of approximately 61,000 photographs tell the story of Queensland’s suburbs and the lifestyles they fostered.

Queensland State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald said the exhibition was so much more than a story of bricks and mortar.

 "It is about the everyday hopes and dreams of queenslanders and how it has changed over the decades.”

Researchers from the University of Queensland’s Architecture Theory Criticism and History Research Centre (ATCH) Dr Deborah van der Plaat, Dr Nicole Sully and Dr Andrew Wilson contributed their time and expertise to 'Act III' of the exhibition – 'Recollecting Home.'

‘Recollecting Home’ consists of 10 curated sets of Corley Collection photos with digital stories and supporting displays. These sets tell the real-life stories of occupants of homes found in the Corley Collection and explore the following themes:

  • ‘Artists in the Suburbs,’ parallel explorations of man-made environments by artists from across the globe including the German photographers Bernd and Hilda Becher, the American artists Ed Ruscha and Todd Hido, and Australian photographer John Gollings;
  • attributes associated with the 'Queensland house', including 'screening,' 'under the house,' and 'open windows,'  elements that also speak of specific Queensland lifestyles and modes of living;
  • 'Not the Queensland House,' which highlights the diversity of forms and materials that contribute to the complexity of the Queensland suburb;
  • and 'Suburbs in Transition,' a series of sets which capture moments of change in the suburbs of the 60s and 70s with new photography by Paul Dielemans extending these observations into the present day.   

This exhibition runs from 7 December 2018 — 14 July 2019 and will be open daily with free entry.

Visit the SLQ website for more information.