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.
Curator Transport & Toys
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