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Politics and school buildings: constructing an educational infrastructure for free trade New South Wales, 1889–1891

Orr, K ORCID: 0000-0001-7378-1301 2017 , 'Politics and school buildings: constructing an educational infrastructure for free trade New South Wales, 1889–1891' , Fabrications, vol. 27, no. 1 , pp. 47-70 , doi:

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This essay considers the architectural interface between political ideology and educational reform in the fifth and final government of Sir Henry Parkes (8 March 1889–22 October 1891). It examines the interconnected roles of the New South Wales Minister of Public Instruction, Joseph Hector McNeil Carruthers, and the Architect for Public Schools, William Edmund Kemp. The period, close to three years, during which the pair worked together led to a series of remarkable buildings, including the Sydney Technical College, the Sydney Technological Museum and fine public school buildings, such as Kogarah, Albury Boys’ and Wagga Wagga South. These buildings reflect Carruthers’ philosophical commitment to the ideology of liberalism and free trade and an enhanced school curriculum to support it, elucidated in his prolific public speeches and annual ministerial reports. The buildings also reflect an evolution in Kemp’s school architecture in response to the new curriculum and Carruthers’ desire to give public education a civic presence. Together, Carruthers’ and Kemp’s shared belief in architecture’s fundamental role as expressing material progress and promoting an informed citizenry supported architectural experimentation that delivered distinctive government buildings. The significance of the relationship between this politician and architect is recognised for the first time.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Orr, K
Keywords: William Edmund Kemp, Joseph Hector McNeil Carruthers, NSW Public Instruction Act 1880, NSW Minister for Public Instruction, NSW Architect for Public Schools, NSW, architecture and politics
Journal or Publication Title: Fabrications
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1033-1867
DOI / ID Number:
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Copyright 2016 The Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand

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