In May Australian Design Centre celebrated 60 years since its beginnings in 1964 as the NSW Crafts Council. The community came together for a series of special events to celebrate this incredible organisation that has nurtured so many creative talents over six decades.

The Party on 16 May was a wonderful celebration attended by about 150 people with three new exhibitions, honouring the past and looking to the future.

Speakers at the event included a warm welcome by Yvonne Weldon from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Lands Council, ADC's CEO and Artistic Director Lisa Cahill, current ADC Chair Elizabeth Espinosa, special guest host, former ADC Chair and host of Restoration Australia and Grand Designs Australia Professor Anthony Burke, ceramic artist and Living Treasure Master of Australian Craft Prue Venables, and Julia Finn NSW Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts.

Excerpt from speech by CEO and Artistic Director Lisa Cahill

“I think everyone here would agree that 60 years for an Australian cultural organisation is a big milestone, particularly in an area of creative endeavour that can sometimes be overlooked for the big splash of a contemporary art biennale or a portraiture painting prize and let’s not get started on the performing arts!

I believe that craft, design, making are extraordinary human pursuits that everyone has some touchpoint with at various stages of life. Making objects both functional and decorative and designing better ways of doing things makes all our lives richer and more beautiful.

Since 1964, ADC (in its various guises as the Crafts Council and Object) has been supporting and promoting the best of Australia’s designer makers, connecting them to an appreciative nation-wide audience through touring exhibitions, public programs, publications and special events such as last year’s inaugural MAKE Award: Biennial Prize for Innovation in Australian Craft and Design.

This significant anniversary year is about both celebrating the past and looking to the future.

The exhibitions launching tonight do just that.

In Treasures we have exceptional work by 10 of Australia’s most accomplished and celebrated artists working across the various craft disciplines.

They are Robert Baines, (the late) Les Blakebrough AM, Helen Britton, Lola Greeno, Marian Hosking, Jeffery Mincham AM, (the late) Klaus Moje, Nick Mount, Prue Venables and Liz Williamson.

I’m delighted that Prue, Robert, Marian and Liz could be here with us tonight along with Ben Blakebrough and Brigitte Enders. Thank you all so much for believing in ADC and the work that we do.

Each of these artists, or their family, have nominated an artist they admire, who is doing outstanding work in their creative field, to be part of this exhibition.

The nominated artists are Kirsten Coelho, Laura Deakin, David Doyle, Blake Griffiths, Jeanette James, Lauren Joffe, Kerryn Levy, Lily Morin, Beth Sanderson and Kenji Uranishi.

All of the works in the exhibition are for sale and will help to support ADC’s fundraising so this is a great opportunity to add an exceptional  work to your collection.

We are also thrilled to open A New Earth, by Margarita Sampson. These incredible and evocative works emerged from her direct experience of the 2019-2020 Black Summer fires. Using salvaged and handmade textiles, knotted videotape, plastics and beading, she has transfigured the burnt landscape into dark, strangely animate beings with glowing interiors.

In its 60th year, ADC contemplates such questions and continues to explore and expand on how design and making shapes the future of our planet.

This project extends the Good Natured: design art architecture project presented in 2023 and supported by Create NSW.

Marking 60 years of this great organisation is tinged with some sadness. We remember the great artists and Living Treasures glass artist Klaus Moje and ceramic artist Les Blakebrough AM.  Not only as artists but as passionate educators, advocates and trailblazers.  Inspirations to so many in our sector.

I would also like to pay tribute to Jane Burns AM who passed away recently just short of her 92nd birthday. Jane was a driver of this organisation’s early years. She made a huge contribution in her professional life as a passionate advocate for Australian craft, leading the Crafts Council of Australia for two decades and she will always be remembered for her tireless work and many achievements that promoted craft here and overseas. On 30 May we will have an event here for the sector to come together and honour Jane’s immense contribution. 

Jane is a big part of what we are here to celebrate tonight, 60 years of ADC supporting and showcasing Australia’s best designer makers around the country and the world since 1964.

Congratulations to the many thousands of artists, makers, designers, writers, curators, filmmakers, arts workers, partners, donors, supporters and audiences across the country who have been part of ADC’s history and future.

We honour the vital legacy of the organisation and its essential role representing and promoting fresh, innovative and highly skilled contemporary Australian craft and design, as we look to an exciting and important future. “

Excerpt from speech by Julia Finn, Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts and Member for Granville.

“Congratulations to ADC, it’s an incredible achievement for a creative community to grow, adapt and survive six decades of changing times.

And what a 60 years it’s been.

When the Crafts Council of NSW was getting started in 1964.

The Beatles toured Australia.

The anti-Vietnam War protests were just getting started.

And colour TV was still a decade away.

So much has changed in art, culture and technology since then, yet this community of creatives has survived…

By bringing together a range of practices that span as wide as ceramics, jewellery, textiles, architecture, fashion, furniture, and industrial design. The ADC has created a community, and banding together creates vital opportunities to exhibit, collaborate, advocate and grow.

The role the ADC plays is strongly aligned with our own arts policy Creative Communities which we launched in December.

Thank you to the ADC for the work that you do.

Communities like this, will be crucial in navigating the threats and opportunities that come our way in the next 60 years of cultural and technological change!”

End of article.