The SLM Learning team strive to achieve authenticity in their programs, especially when it comes to the use of historical artefacts and replica objects and sources.

One of the best methods for learning about life in the past is through hands-on examination of objects, so they feature as an integral part of learning programs.

The search for a special object to use in the Expanding the Colony program at Rouse Hill Estate, led to a fascinating project with an expert box maker, Alex Springall. 

During this program, Year 5 and 6 students learn about the people who lived on Rouse Hill Estate in the 1800s, including Darug people, convict workers and the Rouse family. To explore the life of Bessie Rouse, her role in the community and the lives of other women in similar circumstances at this time, we wanted to reference Bessie's paintbox, c1860s, in combination with other photographic and written sources. 

Three people examine the paintbox of Bessie Rouse at Rouse Hill House Estate.

Box maker, Alex Springall, and SLM curator Dr Scott Hill (with Naomi Manning, Learning Producer) examine the paintbox of Bessie Rouse at Rouse Hill House Estate. Photo Naomi Manning © Sydney Living Museums

The paint box was owned and used by Bessie Rouse (nee Buchanan, 1843-1924), and given a date of c1850-60, was likely acquired in her teenage years before her marriage to Edwin Stephen Rouse in 1874. Bessie was a keen amateur artist who created a studio space in the enclosed area of the verandah between the main house and servants' quarters at Rouse Hill. The box and many of her works in oil and watercolour survive in the collection today.

Expert woodworker and box maker, Alex Springall, examined the box for techniques and materials so he could replicate it authentically by hand. When completed, this object will join others in the program such as a Darug coolamon, a replica miniature portrait of Richard Rouse and an ink pot relating to convict worker Margaret Catchpole, enabling visiting students to 'touch' the past at Rouse Hill Estate. 

About the Author

Head and shoulders portrait of woman wearing orange scarf and red top.
Naomi Manning
Naomi is passionate about teaching history and has worked in different contexts to do this over the years. Currently she working for Sydney Living...

Employment opportunity preview tile.

Employment

22/NMP004 Principal Project ManagerFriday 20 May 2022

Employment opportunity preview tile.

Employment

22/ACP080 Senior Producer, Public ProgramsFriday 20 May 2022

Employment opportunity preview tile.

Employment

22/CC101 WHS OfficerFriday 20 May 2022

Employment opportunity preview tile.

Employment

Technical Delivery Lead (Talent Pool)Wednesday 18 May 2022

Employment opportunity preview tile.

Employment

22/40107 Manager, LogisticsTuesday 17 May 2022