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Object Matters

Arts & Culture Podcasts

The Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney's monthly podcast series. Host Dr Craig Barker asks guests to choose any one item to discuss from the museum’s collections of art, archaeology, natural history, science and culture.

The Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney's monthly podcast series. Host Dr Craig Barker asks guests to choose any one item to discuss from the museum’s collections of art, archaeology, natural history, science and culture.




The Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney's monthly podcast series. Host Dr Craig Barker asks guests to choose any one item to discuss from the museum’s collections of art, archaeology, natural history, science and culture.






30: Photogrammetry recording of an Athenian tetradrachm

This episode of Object Matters marks National Archaeology week. Host Dr Craig Barker is joined by Madeline Robinson, Support Officer for the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney. In recent years Madeline has overseen a project of recording a number of Chau Chak Wing Museum objects in 3D to be used in digital teaching of undergraduate courses. Photogrammetry is a technique that creates accurate and fully textured 3D models from photographs. It can be used to record both...


29: Alan Sonfist's Crystalline enclosure, 1970

In this episode of Object Matters host Dr Craig Barker is joined by art historian and author Nicholas Croggon. They speak on the Power Institute, the Power Collection and the Light and Darkness exhibition. Nick discusses a work in the Power Collection by American artist Alan Sonfist. Sonfist is a US based artist most often associated with the birth of the Land or Earth Art movement. Crystalline enclosure was created in 1970, early in Sonfist’s career. The work features a glass globe with...


28: Parts from prototypes of the Cotton Aerodynamic Anti-G (CAAG) suit

In this episode of Object Matters Lauren Poole, a writer and disabled postgraduate student of museum studies at the University of Sydney joins host Dr Craig Barker. Together they speak about the more than 100 rubber fragments of the "Cotton aerodynamic anti-G (CAAG) flying suit" in the collection. Designed during World War Two at the University of Sydney by the Professor of Physiology between 1942 and 1955, named Frank Cotton, , the suit was produced in conjunction with the Royal...


27: Plaster Cast of the relief Boston Throne

Host Dr Craig Barker is joined by classical archaeologist Dr Alina Kozlovski to discuss the tradition of plaster casts of Greek and Roman antiquities popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Using the Nicholson collection's century old cast of the Boston Throne as a starting point they discuss the popularity of casting for educational and aesthetic reasons, the influence of casts on modern perceptions of the Classical past and the role of authenticity in collections and interpretations....


26: Chinese Willow Pattern Dish

For Lunar New Year 2022, Object Matters host Craig Barker is joined by art historian and art writer Dr Alex Burchmore. They discuss this 19th century Chinese Willow Pattern dish and explore how it represents a complex series of cultural interchanges and cross-pollinaion between China and England, the principal motif elements in Willow Pattern ceramics and how they a 19th century audience responded to them, as well as the extent to which such pieces offered their owners an opportunity to...


25: Deadly Delights - An arrangement of Jezebel butterflies

In this episode of Object Matters Matthew Huan joins host Dr Craig Barker to discuss several Australian Jezebel butterflies (genus Delias) from the museum’s Macleay Collection. Matthew is a Museums Collections Officer and entomologist at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, and has a long fascination with butterflies. With over 250 known species the Jezebels, they are found from South East Asia to New Guinea and Australia. So what attracts Matthew to these deadly delights? In a wide ranging...


24: A Late Bronze Age Cylinder Seal

In this episode of Object Matters host Dr Craig Barker is joined by Damien Stone. Damien is an archaeologist and works in the Collection Management team of the Chau Chak Wing Museum. He is author of Pomegranate: A Global History and is currently working on a second project exploring the Hittite civilization of Ancient Turkey. Damien has selected from the collection a cylinder seal from Late Bronze Age Syria and the two of them discuss sealing iconography and functionality, personal identity...


23: The Pearson photographic albums of New Britain

Steven Gagau is an archivist and researcher with PARADISEC (the Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures) - a digital archive of languages from the Pacific. Steven is also a co-curator of the Chau Chak Wing Museum's exhibition Pacific Views. In this episode of Object Matters he joins host Dr Craig Barker on a personal journey to his homeland of New Britain as recorded in photographs in two albums taken in the late 1920s by an Australian banker in Rabaul. It was...


22: Applied Arts

Cultural producer and artist Dr Sarah Goffman joins host Dr Craig Barker in this episode of Object Matters to discuss her current exhibition at the Chau Chak Wing Museum titled Applied arts. In this episode they discuss Sarah’s creative processes, her relationship with collecting and the use of plastics in her work and in particular discuss the role the AGNSW’s Chinese scholar’s table has taken throughout her career including the current exhibition. Join Sarah as she takes us into Applied...


21: Campanian red figure bell krater by the Nicholson Painter featuring a warrior

In this episode of Object Matters host Dr Craig Barker is joined by Mediterranean archaeologist and Project Officer of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens Dr Yvonne Inall to discuss her research into ancient spears and the Chau Chak Wing Museum’s red figure bell-krater from south Italy attributed to the Nicholson Painter. The vase features a scene of a warrior holding a spear alongside two women, and provides the inspiration for a discussion ranging from weaponry in the ancient...


20: Hongi Hika’s wooden bust

Ngāpuhi leader and warrior, Hongi Hika (c. 1772 – 1828) was an important figure in Māori history. Hongi Hika successfully negotiated trade and missionary activities in the early part of the 19th century, living in Sydney from 1814 to 1819. In 1820 he visited England where he was feted by society and introduced to King George IV. His main aim however was acquire muskets; the weapons would be used in the Musket Wars in which Hongi was a successful military campaigner. The Chau Chak Wing Museum...


19: The faience shabtis of Djedher

Michelle Whitford is a doctoral researcher in Department of Physics and Astronomy at Macquarie University who has been conducting research on thousands of ancient Egyptian objects made from faience, including many from the Nicholson Collection at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, using new and innovative scientific techniques. In this episode of Object Matters she joins host Dr Craig Barker in a discussion about seven shabti buried in the tomb of Djedher in the fourth century BC and together...


18: The Thylacine

Matthew Gibbs wears many hats. For eleven years he served as President for the Friends of the Nicholson Collection, but he is also the General Manager, Media and Communications at the ASX, a collector, and a lover of Shakespeare. He joins Dr Craig Barker to discuss one of his favourite collection items; the mounted specimen of a Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger. In a wide-ranging discussion they talk about Matthew’s interest in Tasmanian Tigers and their enduring role in Australia’s...


17: The Future of Museums

18 May 2021 was International Museums Day, an annual celebration created by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), designed to raise awareness about museums and their role in enriching culture and sharing knowledge. The theme for 2021 was The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine. Four panellists from the Museum and Heritage Studies program at the University of Sydney joined Dr Craig Barker on International Museums Day in a live panel in the Nelson Meers Foundation Auditorium....


16: Thomas Hikade on Sir Flinders Petrie’s Diopolis Parva seriation chart

Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) is an important and somewhat controversial figure in the history of archaeology. The grandson of Matthew Flinders, Petrie rose from a surveyor to becoming the Professor of Egyptology at the University College London, where the Petrie Museum was named in his honour. He excavated more than 60 sites in Egypt during his career and a number of others in the Levant in his twilight years, pioneering a range of methodologies and techniques that would...


15: The Collection Managers

Behind the scenes it takes a mighty team to care for the Chau Chak Wing Museum’s vast collections. In this episode, Craig Barker invites nine CCWM Collection Management staff members to discuss how they document, digitise, register, monitor and care for the objects that matter so much to us all. We explore their roles at the museum, the philosophy and practicalities of collection care and the processes the team undertook to move more than 110,000 objects physically into the museum in...


14: Dr Seppi Lehner on an Early Dynastic copper alloy axe from Ur in Iraq

Middle Eastern archaeologist from the University of Sydney Dr Joseph ‘Seppi’ Lehner speaks to Dr Craig Barker about a number of bronze and copper alloy objects in the Museum collection, recovered in the British Museum and University of Pennsylvania excavations at Ur in Iraq, directed by Sir Leonard Woolley in the 1920s and 1930s. In particular they discuss a copper alloy axe head found in one of the tombs dating to the Early Dynastic period (c. 2900-2350 BC), and talk more broadly about...


13: Two WWI photographs by Frank Hurley

In this special episode of Object Matters, Dr Craig Barker is joined by Toni Hurley, teacher, educator, historian, one-time president of the History Teachers Association and known to generations of school students as a co-author of the Antiquity series of textbooks. Toni is also the grand-daughter of renowned Australian photographer Frank Hurley (1885-1962). In this podcast Toni and Craig discuss two lantern slides of Hurley photographs, formerly from the Geology Department collection....


12: Cellist by Walter Bowring

In this episode of Object Matters Dr Craig Barker is joined by Chris Jones the Chau Chak Wing Museum’s Collection Manager, Documentation. An oil painting by Walter Armiger Bowring (1887-1971) in the museum’s art collection titled Cellist of c. 1927 has long intrigued Chris. A musician in an artists studio looks not a musical score but rather an abstract painting. Chris ponders if Bowring is gently mocking the 1920s modernist concepts popularised by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo, Roy De Maistre...


11: On artists Lindy Lee and Wang Youshen

Dr Shuxia Chen, Curator of the China Gallery at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, joins Dr Craig Barker to welcome the Year of the Ox with two artworks from the collection. Photocopy works by Chinese-Australian artist Lindy Lee and Beijing artist Wang Youshen from the late 1980s and early 1990s are discussed in reference to Shuxia’s own art historical research and together we examine how artists were looking for new ways to combine Eastern and Western traditions during that creative and...