Corley public exhibition wins highest honour at heritage awards

10 Dec 2019

A public exhibition created with University of Queensland architecture researchers that showcased more than 60,000 photographs of suburban homes was awarded the highest honour at the National Trust Queensland Heritage Awards in October.

Home: A Suburban Obsession was hosted by the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) and won both the Gold Award in Heritage Interpretation and Promotion and the John Herbert Memorial Award for the most outstanding nomination across all categories.

The Minister for Environment and the Arts Leanne Enoch said the National Trust Queensland Heritage Awards has been a celebration of Queensland’s heritage for more than 25 years.

“These awards have recognised best practice, innovation and achievement in Queensland’s heritage, awarding outstanding projects and people that demonstrate excellence in protection and conservation,” Ms Enoch said.

"During the 1960s and 70s, Frank and Eunice Corley roamed Brisbane’s suburbs photographing houses from the architectural to the ramshackle, selling the final images back to the home-owners as calendars and Christmas cards.

Fifty years on, the legacy of their efforts was an extensive collection of images, showcased through this exhibition, an immersive virtual reality streetscape and art installations that captured the imagination of the community. The exhibition also featured the Corley Explorer, which provided public access to the digitised collection and crowd sourced information and stories, including locations of the photographs. A team from UQ’s School of Architecture collaborated over six months with the SLQ on this outstanding exhibition, which resulted in more than 35,000 people visiting the exhibition across its duration.

UQ Senior Research Fellow Dr Deborah van der Plaat worked with colleagues Dr Nicole Sully and Dr Andrew Wilson on the ‘Recollecting Home’ section of the exhibition.

“An aspect that we found really interesting was “what” the Corley’s tried to exclude from their images and caught accidentally on film, including factories, schools, churches, high-rise developments, shopping centres even the people and pets that lived in the houses that were photographed. Revealing the infrastructure of the suburb itself, this absence also suggests a complexity and early densification that we associate with the suburbs of today,” Deborah said.

UQ Architecture academic Dr Frederico Fialho Teixeira also developed an interactive digital artwork for the exhibition called ‘The Multiple and the One.”

“The work understands Corley’s collection as an ontological database oriented by the question of the one versus the multiple. The exhibit entitled "The One and the Multiple" exposes the photographic decision affects Corey’s work on two distinct levels. The affects arising from the specific manner in which he privileges the multiple over the one, and the effects arising from the very fact his collection starts with the problem of multiplicity,” Frederico said.

This is the third year running that the School of Architecture have contributed to projects that have won the John Herbert Memorial Award.

Winners of the 2019 National Trust Queensland Heritage Awards were:
Adaptive Re-use Category:
• Silver - Howard Smith Wharves
• High Commendation - Sarina Field of Dreams Parklands.

Conservation Works Category:
• Gold - Stonework Conservation on the former Treasury Building
• Silver - Conservation of Iron Water Tanks and Stands at Normanton and Black Bull; Rockhampton City Hall - Reception Hall; and Wairuna Homestead Conservation Works
• High Commendation: Bankfoot House Heritage Precinct Shed Conservation and Restoration Project; Port Douglas Customs Shipping Flagstaff; Rosenthal Homestead Stage 1; and The Argentine Smelter Chimney.

Heritage Interpretation and Promotion Category:
• Gold - Home: a suburban obsession
• Silver - Bunya to the Bay; Fort Bribie Story Map project
• High Commendation - After the Storm; Enhancing Experience - Bankfoot House Heritage Precinct Interpretation and Promotion Project.

Heritage Landscape Category:
• High Commendation - The Common - West Village
• High Commendation - Holy Trinity Landscape Revitalisation.

Heritage Reports and Planning Category:
• Gold - Queensland's Timber Railway Passenger Stations Pre-WWII
• Silver - Kuranda Railway Station Conservation Management Plan
• High Commendation - Kidman's Mud Hut (Pise House Bedourie) Conservation Management Plan; Memorial Park Gympie Conservation Management and Implementation Plans.

Advocacy Volunteer Category:
• Gold - Ernest Junction Tunnel Friends
• Silver - Friends of Greenmount.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Jeanette Alfredson (posthumously awarded)

Rising Star Award: Nicholas McDougall

​John Herbert Memorial Award: Home: A suburban obsession