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Digital Drop-In: Tim Ross

Exhibit Now — a mini-exhibition on Instagram by Tim Ross.

The DX Lab is thrilled to begin a collaborative research project with comedian and passionate architecture & design enthusiast Tim Ross, as part of our Digital Drop-In program.

Portrait of Tim Ross
Portrait of Tim Ross

Tim has been a long-standing supporter of the architecture and design industry, and in 2018 he was awarded the National Trust Heritage Award for Advocacy for his activism on modernist architecture and promoting its conversation. Tim actively uses the photo-sharing platform Instagram to share his love of architecture and design, rapidly building audiences for both his accounts: @modernister and @streetsofyour_town

Inspired by what Tim is doing on Instagram, we asked him to come and see some of the Library’s architectural and design collection and find out if he would be interested in collaborating with us.

Tim Ross and Anna Corkhill in the Library stack
Curator Anna Corkhill showing Tim Ross collection items. Photo by Paula Bray.

“I was incredibly excited to go down into the stacks and view a small sample of the incredible library collection. Highlights for me included the John Andrews collection and seeing the brilliant sketchbooks of Ken Woolley.”- Tim Ross

“The collection is full of architectural treasures to be discovered, explored and interpreted. The Library’s collection of architectural plans includes over 100,000 items, and that’s not including the architectural sketchbooks, architectural papers, photographs and models! The Library is still collecting architectural material today and we have many recent acquisitions to share. Collaborating with Tim will help to connect our collection with an engaged, enthusiastic design-savvy audience. Recent acquisitions include the drawings and sketchbooks of Ken Woolley, who was active in the Sydney architecture scene in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. His sketchbooks contain the initial drawings for what would go on to become his designs for Pettit and Sevitt – the house builders responsible for the proliferation of modernist houses in Sydney in the 1960s and 70s, and the famous ‘Lowline’ house design. We also have the drawings of architects such as Douglas Snelling, who designed decadent California-style modernist houses in the 1950s, and designs by George Surtees for the futuristic interiors of Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith airport, c. 1969. There really is so much to discover and share, so it will be excellent to get Tim Ross involved and see what he finds!”- Anna Corkhill


So what happens when the DX Lab and Tim Ross collaborate?

We are interested in collaborations that explore and experiment and help us to find new ways to deliver the Library’s collection to audiences. We are then able to use the findings and research from these experiments to make our collections more accessible. Our mid-century architecture collection is perfect for this. It is an untapped resource and there is a vast amount of material there that we want people to see, use, create with and enjoy.

Tim is so passionate about developing and sharing stories on architecture and design from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and working with him on this mini-exhibition via Instagram will allow us to experiment and from this, we will develop ideas and provide research that can be used for an online, experimental web presence. We are interested in the immediacy of building on an idea in a public way, getting feedback and stories from audiences, and finding out things we may not have known. Our design- thinking process is to publish early, test ideas, be open to collaborating, sharing and co-curating as we go so that we learn from our audiences to develop more informed experiences. We hope to learn more about these collections and find ways to make this metadata available in the future, and we’re really excited to discover the stories that will come from this mini-exhibition.

“Photos from the past are so evocative and on Instagram they get an instant response. I can’t wait to see how people respond to the photos that I post and the stories that they will bring up.” -Tim Ross

Follow Tim’s mini Instagram exhibition on his Instagram accounts, @modernister and @streetsofyour_town. We will be posting about the research findings later.





miriam Kenter

Hi there, I’m working on a documentary series for the ABC called ‘The Pool’
We worked with Tim Ross on Streets of Your Town so follow him avidly! He has posted an image of a Motel with a pool on his instagram account. The Image comments wereed: ‘“Does it have a pool Dad?” “You bet. It’s also got a pool fence and no shade!” “Hooray!” Sydney Motor Inn, 1973. This photo features the Australian made Banksia wire fence by ARC 📷 @statelibrarynsw This is a continuation of Exhibit Now, a mini Instagram exhibition in collaboration with their #dxlab’
I was wondering if you could advise if you have an image in your collection. Tim Ross posted it on his Modernister Instagram. Hope you can help with sourcing this image. Warm regards, Miriam.

Paula Bray

Hi Miriam. This is from our collection. You can find the record here.
Let me know if you need more information.