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A6896-10 Doll tableau, 'Mermaid in underwater cave', fabric / plastic / shells, designed and made by Euronwy (Rene) Wilson, Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia, 1965 and first prize ribbon from Sydney Royal Easter Show, velvet, awarded to Euronwy (Rene) Wilson, Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia,. Click to enlarge.

"Mermaid in underwater cave" doll tableau

    This doll tableau features an underwater cave in which a ceramic mermaid appears with a plastic skeleton and treasure chest. It was made as a craft hobby in 1965 and is one of ten tableaux in the Museum's collection put together by Euronwy (Rene) Wilson (1898-1978), from the Sydney suburb of Cammeray, between 1956 and 1976.

    Born in Wales, Rene moved to Australia when she was 16 and had a background in antique dealing. After her children grew up she began to create these tableaux. She modelled many of the props for the settings in potter's clay, which were baked in her oven at home with the roast then painted. Other props were gathered from Sydney antique shops and auctions or modified from household items. Between 1960 and her death in 1978 she won 18 first prizes in the arts and crafts section of Sydney's Royal Easter Show, and five at the Sydney Doll Show.

    Rene exhibited and sold her work around Sydney, the proceeds being donated to local charities and organisations. This tableau is significant as it represents an interesting combination of crafts and toy making. The setting features an unusual combination of character and period doll dressing, doll's house interior design, needlework and craft. It is well provenanced and indicative of the popular craft practices of the time. In addition, it relates to Sydney's Royal Easter Show, a significant event within the social history of New South Wales.

    Margaret Simpson
    Curator Transport & Toys
    October 2011

    Carr, Valerie, "Dolls clothes knitted on darning needles" in "The Australian Women's Weekly", 6 March 1968, p.13.

    Information provided by Gay Hawkins, 1978

    Summary

    Object No.

    A6896-10

    Object Statement

    Doll tableau, 'Mermaid in underwater cave', fabric / plastic / shells, designed and made by Euronwy (Rene) Wilson, Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia, 1965 and first prize ribbon from Sydney Royal Easter Show, velvet, awarded to Euronwy (Rene) Wilson, Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia, 1965

    Physical Description

    This doll tableau comprises an underwater cave with reclining ceramic mermaid with long peal necklace surrounded by marine props including a ceramic starfish and turtle, plastic skeleton and jewel-filled treasure chest. The tableau is made of various materials including beadwork, shells, plastic and pipe cleaners. The tableau is mounted on particle board. It has a blue ribbon "Royal Easter Show 1965 First".

    Dimensions

    Height

    160 mm

    Width

    245 mm

    Depth

    120 mm

    Production

    Notes

    Mrs Euronwy (Rene) Wilson made this doll tableau featuring a mermaid as a craft hobby in about 1965 at her Sydney home in Cammeray. Rene was born Euronwy Hughes, in Llanrwst, North Wales, in 1898, the daughter of Hugh Robert Hughes and Mary Hughes. She lived in Rhodesia and New York before moving to Australia as a child in 1912. She came from an artistic family. Her brother Robert (Bob) Evans Hughes (1896-1970) was a landscape painter who took up art after being injured while serving with the AIF in World War I and returned to Wales to paint.

    In Australia Rene married a Mr Way then in 1952 Thomas Wright Wilson, a stonemason by trade, who later collected snuff boxes and pipes. Rene was a self employed dealer in antiques and after her three daughters had grown up she began developing her hobby of making doll tableaux in 1956 using her craft, sewing, match work and other crafts.

    History

    Notes

    The mermaid doll tableau was made in 1965 by Euronwy (Rene) Wilson (1898-1978). This tableau won first prize in the Arts and Crafts section of the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1965. After her death the tableau was donated to the Museum in 1978 by Rene's daughter, Gay Hawkins of Beauty Point, New South Wales.

    Cite this Object

    Harvard

    "Mermaid in underwater cave" doll tableau 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 5 March 2021, <https://ma.as/187822>

    Wikipedia

    {{cite web |url=https://ma.as/187822 |title="Mermaid in underwater cave" doll tableau |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=5 March 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}