As you may know, the Dunera brought a bunch of people out to Australia who settled in very nicely and added to the place. A coach of olympic runners, numerous professors, some rich entrepreneurs. I don’t know if Fred Lowen and Ernst Roedeck got rich but they founded FLER and were a great duo – FL being the designer and ER being the engineer. They brought modernist furniture to Australia – or rather invented it here, because I don’t know how much of it Fred had seen when he was back in Europe. Fred Lowen, who is no longer with us but whom I met once at an opening of his about ten or so years ago was a very nice man to meet. He’s also written a book.
Ernst is still with us and it’s quite interesting (to me anyway) that at least as he tells the story, the dedication to Australian materials reflected a kind of ‘buy Australian’ as much as an aesthetic sensibility from the start. Ernst feels so strongly about buy Australian that he’s a strong protectionist. He’s taken the trouble to reconstruct that protectionism to reflect the desirability of exports (arguably what enabled the protectionism of what was formerly developing Asia to become so successful). I wrote about the policy of ‘balanced trade’ he advocates here when Warren Buffett proposed it for America. In any event, Ernst thinks we should balance our trade so there you do. No borrowing for him.
Fred Lowen became enamoured of Scandinavian design (I think as much from books and magazines as having seen it) and you can see the lovely result above – his designs are still collected today.
Anyway ABC RN (is there a better broadcaster in the world?) has devoted one of it’s Hindsight programs to FL and ER.
Meanwhile, on the Dunera front, there’s the last of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Dunera on Sunday May 15th at Tatura if anyone wants to contact me about it – there’s a museum there and all.
And Ken Inglis, Historian extraordinare is writing a book on the Dunera and is giving a lecture on it in Melbourne on April 14th which I hope to attend. Perhaps I’ll see you there. He seems to have turned up a very moving painting – or at least someone has posted a painting I’ve not seen. The artist is unknown, presumably an inmate at Hay after about three months in captivity. It looks better than Christmas Island.