Recognised as one of Australia’s most famous art deco interiors, Mural Hall’s restoration brought it carefully back to how it originally stood in 1935. Sitting high on the sixth floor of Melbourne’s MYER Emporium, the grand formal dining room was designed by Sidney Myer himself and known to host the most glamorous parties and fashion-related events since it was inception all those years ago. From lunch in the dining hall followed by Parisian fashion parades to exclusive events for travelling royalty, Mural Hall, with its grand staircase, soaring ceilings, stain glass windows, parquetry floors and European styling, embodies sophistication and heritage rarely seen in Australian venues.
For over 70 years guests have marvelled over the collection of paintings that adorn the walls of Mural Hall. Commissioned by Sidney Myer himself, ten murals all a tribute to women and their achievements through history were painted by Victorian artist Napier Waller. Waller was an established artist, working in mosaics and stained glass, creating work for significant Australian sites. Melbourne has been described as ‘a gallery of Napier Waller’s work’ which can be found at venues such as Melbourne Townhall, State Library, Florentino’s, Melbourne University and of course, our own Mural Hall.
Ten murals that stand at 150 foot long, 60 foot wide and 24-foot high hall are a ‘celebration of influential figures in the areas of art, history, opera, literature, dance and fashion’ and took one year to complete in Waller’s studio in Ivanhoe. Unfortunately, Sidney Myer did not live to see the works completed, dying a few months before their reveal.
In celebration of all women this International Women Day, we look at the work created for Mural Hall by Napier Waller. Ten panels, all paying homage to women and their achievements in the areas of art, opera, literature, dance, sport and fashion. Eight of the murals are almost floor to ceiling height in the main hall with the remaining two flanks the entrance in an opulent, grand style. With mural titles ranging from ‘Women in literature’, featuring a variety of greats including Jane Austen and Sappho, the ancient Greek poet to ‘Revelation in fashion’ portraying examples of fashionistas throughout the centuries. ‘Beautiful women in History’ represents Helen of Troy, Anne Boleyn and Katherine the fair, ‘Sports through the ages’ blends women from as early as the 1300’s to the 1900s shining a light on golf suits, games of skittles and simple beach girls from 1933. ‘Drama though the ages’ includes a few men we won’t let that take away from the beauty of the mural! Sporting such characters such as Sarah Bernhardt as ‘Phaedra’ and Mrs Siddons who ‘devoted her genius to the reinstatement of Shakespeare’. The paintings celebrate famous women and can even be considered a homage to the MYER patrons who spend their time in the store.
Take one step inside Mural Hall and let yourself be transported back in time, perhaps its the Parisian vibes or the elegant chandeliers that hang above you, either way stepping into a space that is a celebration of women is a must for all.
To view the artwork in detail visit here.
To visit Napier Waller’s restored Ivanhoe home visit here.