Replacing like with like—a handblown lightshade for the Member’s Dining Room
We recently had the opportunity to travel to Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills to document master glassblower Tim Shaw creating a new lightshade which is to play a part in the Members’ Dining Room refresh project.
One of the original 1927 glass lightshades is broken. Faced with this challenge it was clear that we needed to respect the historical use of this space and decide on the best strategy to preserve the integrity of the original lighting installation. This was a place where politicians and invited guests came to eat, drink and relax from the rigours of parliamentary duties. Other factors to take into account were the contemporary use for this space—high-end functions—and of course, safety.
When the original lightshades were made, hand blowing such items was commonplace; unlike today’s mass produced lightshades that adorn most contemporary dining spaces. From the remaining pieces of the damaged lightshade, Tim skilfully determined the composition of the glass, its colour and texture. He made drawings of the lightshade from which he constructed a metal mould.
We have made as new by replacing like with like. However, it is more than just the physical object that is being replaced. The vision of the Commonwealth Architect, John Smith Murdoch, of soft, ambient light is being kept alive. It is as if the spirit of the glassblowers of yesteryear, imbued with remarkable technical skill, perseverance and energy, continue to illuminate the Members’ Dining Room.