Paintbox from the Past
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.
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.
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.