EXHIBITION: RBF presents Bill Lucas: Architect Utopian

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Jamie Paterson


Bill Lucas (1924-2001) is an architectural enigma of the Sydney School. With fellow student and wife Ruth, a partnership formed that created a few of the icons of Australian architecture. Moreover, they created an environment where as architects they could engage with community, build community and bring things and experiences that enriched community.

Bill’s genius brought many things together, tragedy and adversity tore some apart, but Bill sat down and brought it all together again in a collection of his life’s work and learning through the lifelong building of an archive.

There is no play book for architects, and the trajectory is out of control. It is only through the examination of practice that anything can be learned, and for most, by that time, it is too late. Much of the annals of the twentieth century history of architecture borders on hagiography, or at least sanitised or the product of confirmation bias. Critical self-examination can be surprising and reconstructing your life’s work into a controlled trajectory is informative and entertaining. Bill had become a revisionist reliving his life in rewind and fast forward, edit, cut, paste and rewrite.

This exhibition illustrates some aspects of Bill’s archive, previously unseen in Melbourne, a degustation if you like, inviting interest and investigation into the life and practice of Bill Lucas: Architect Utopian through the lens of his friends and collaborators, Julie Cracknell and Peter Lonergan. Through Peter’s observations, Julie’s order, and the assistance of their team of architects and graduates who are themselves on their own architectural journeys. Kath Chan has designed and assembled the catalogue that sits beside the exhibition and is a fitting takeaway to be enjoyed at home.

The exhibition is a pouring out of some of the contents of the vast archive, a first pass at ordering these into absorbable parts. A rich pack of original material that filled the files of a practice are on display.

Bill Lucas: Architect Utopian is presented by the Robin Boyd Foundation, Cracknell & Lonergan ArchitectsUrsula Chandler Architects and Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney and generously supported by KFive and Konpira Maru Wine.

Image: (detail) Glass House, Castlecrag. Photo by Richard Dunn.

Exhibition 19 – 31 August 2022
Open daily, 1pm – 5pm | Free to attend, but please register for a date using the link above.

Exhibition floor talk with Peter Lonergan
Saturday 20 August 11am
Tickets $10 – $15, bookings required