What We Collected in 2021

COMPILED BY MEL BONDFIELD

In 2021 our curatorial team once again added some significant new items to the NFSA collection. Below you'll find a small sample of what we've collected this year.

Highlights include radio mentalists, stunning costumes, historic carols and the Streets Barber.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program contains images and/or audio of deceased persons.

Web Series

Added to the collection this year was The Streets Barber Stories. Follow Nasir Sobhani, the Streets Barber, as he provides free haircuts to those who are less fortunate.

In this episode, we meet 23-year-old Lee, a young deaf man. Originally from India, Lee came to Australia for a better life and is living in community housing in Melbourne:

In 2021, we also acquired the hit YouTube series Nat's What I Reckon and the short documentary series There is No I in Island, which weaves the fears, dreams, reflections and songs of the island community of Iutruwita/Tasmania during COVID-19 lockdown into a fantastical, animated landscape.

Gaming

Some more peculiar additions to our gaming collection in 2021 included Tasmania Story and Galf.

Collage of a video game cover and cartridge for a game called Tasmania Story. The cover has Japanese writing on it and a picture of a boy holding a wombat.

Japanese Nintendo Game Boy Tasmania Story, 1990.

Tasmania Story is a Japanese Game Boy game based on the Japanese-language film of the same name, which was set and filmed in Australia.

The film centred around a man obsessed with finding a thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) and the game featured an 8-bit chiptune version of ‘Waltzing Matilda’.

Galf is a contemporary retro release, programmed for an original 1980s Nintendo Entertainment System but released in 2018. It is based on the mini-game from the Brisbane-developed game Golf Story.

Podcasts

From UTS Studios Podcasts in Sydney, this episode of Black Stories Matter explores how Aboriginal aspirations and views have been represented in decades of Australian media reporting:

Another highlight added to our podcast collection was History Lab Series 4: The Last Outlaws, which explores the story of Aboriginal brothers Jimmy and Joe Governor.

Radio

In 2021, we acquired an episode of The Piddington Show broadcast on 3KZ in 1947. The show features a husband-and-wife mentalist team, Sydney and Lesley Piddington. In 1949, they moved to the UK and presented a series of successful shows for the BBC. Here is an excerpt from the only surviving Australian episode of their show, in which Sydney attempts to transmit to Lesley the name of selected horses competing in the 1947 Melbourne Cup:

Oral History

We captured some fascinating new discussions for our Oral History collection – through both online conversations and face-to-face interviews between lockdowns.

Subjects included the creators of Nat’s What I Reckon, as well as pioneering director and producer, Di Drew. Here she describes some of the challenges of being a female director in the largely male domain of TV drama in the early 1980s:

Sound

We added some fantastic items to our sound collection in 2021, including a range of digital and analogue material from Mushroom Records – encompasing albums, EPs, singles and film clips.

Highlights include items from Kylie Minogue, Sam Teskey and Bliss n Eso, seen below performing 'Tell the World That I'm Coming' (Warning: includes explicit language):

Our curators also brought into the collection some personal recordings from pioneering broadcaster, and Carols by Candlelight founder, Norman Banks (1905–1985). 

This recording is a performance of 'A Melbourne Carol', composed by Banks and performed by the St Patrick's Choir, conducted by Dr Percy Jones, for Carols by Candlelight in 1949:

Documents and Artefacts

In 2021, we acquired a set of 59 production and publicity stills of the cast, crew and locations from the film Jedda (Charles Chauvel, Australia, 1955) by photographer Phil Pike. These photographs were kindly donated to the NFSA by Beth Gower, a family friend of Jedda production manager Harry Closter, in his memory. Here is a small selection:

From Oscar-nominated designer Anna Senior, we received costumes from the classic Australian films My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong, 1979), The Getting of Wisdom (Bruce Beresford, 1977) and Phar Lap (Simon Wincer, 1983).

In addition, we acquired a dress worn by Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre (Cary Joji Fukunaga, UK–USA, 2011) plus this stunning costume that she wore in Madam Bovary (Sophia Barthes, Germany–Belgium–USA, 2014) featuring a brilliant turmeric-coloured coat and bottle-green pants and shirt:

Some of these costumes – and many more – will be on display in our Australians & Hollywood exhibition in Canberra from 21 January to 17 July 2022.

Television

A higlight of our TV collecting in 2021 was the recovery of some lost footage of 1960s Australian rock band The Easybeats on Britain’s Top of the Pops:

We also received a a significant acquisition from NBN Television Newcastle and a range of recent Australian series including The Newsreader Season 1 (Werner Film Productions, 2021), Rosehaven Season 5 (Guesswork Television, 2021) and Total Control Season 2 (Blackfella Films, 2021).

Film

In 2021 we acquired the personal film archive of Valerie and Ron Taylor, encompassing over 6 decades of oceanography and underwater filmmaking. It represents their life’s work in advocating for oceans and marine species such as sharks, and we look forward to bringing you highlights from this collection later in 2022.

Also brand new to the NFSA is a unique collection of home movies shot by Kenneth Garrahy (1933–2021). They document private Sydney gay social clubs and networks from the 1960s to the 1980s – a period in which homosexual acts were illegal in NSW and much of the gay community was essentially underground. This collection is rare and significant for the NFSA as there is an underrepresentation of home movie collections that capture aspects of private gay life.

Main image: The Newsreader Series 1, 2021. Courtesy Werner Film Productions. NFSA title: 1657102