Catriona Donnelly & Julie Ryder ‘Flowers of the Sea, and unravelling the identity of the Port Phillip seaweed album collector

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Thursday, 12 October 2017 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm

Catriona, a curator at National Museum of Australia, and Julie, a textile designer, reveal an album of pressed algae from Ireland, the Cape of Good Hope and the Port Phillip areas, and the sea-weed collector’s identity.

Catriona Donnelly is a curator in the People and the Environment curatorial team at the National Museum of Australia. She has also worked in the conservation and visitor services teams. Catriona is particularly interested in the botanical collections held in the Museum’s collection and has been considering their significance within the framework of a social history museum. She holds a Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) and is currently studying a Masters of Liberal Arts (Museums and Collections) at the Australian National University.

Julie Ryder is a Canberra-based textile designer who has gained national and international recognition for her work. She has been a practicing textile artist, designer and educator for over 25 years. Originally trained in science, Julie retrained as a textile designer at Melbourne Institute of Textiles, graduating in 1990. Julie has taught in tertiary institutions and community organisations for over 25 years and completed a Master of Arts (Visual Arts) degree at the Australian National University, School of Art in 2004. She has been the recipient of many awards, grants and commissions and her work is represented in numerous public and private collections.

Seaweed collecting was a popular recreational and educational activity for the middle and upper class in the 19th century.  In 2013 the National Museum of Australia purchased an exquisite album which holds approximately 200 pressed algae specimens from the north of Ireland, the Cape of Good Hope and the Port Phillip area around Melbourne. The earliest specimen – from Ireland – dates from 1851. Most of the Australian specimens were collected between 1859 and 1882. In 2016 Canberra-based textile designer Julie Ryder spent six months at the Museum researching the album. She was determined to track down the identity of the collector but the only clues she had were the handwritten locations and dates on the specimens. Join Catriona Donnelly, curator at the National Museum of Australia, and Julie Ryder to find out how the mystery of the collector’s identity was solved.