This cushion comes from the homestead of Wallangra Station, a cattle-fattening and wool-growing property built around 1875 in Warialda, on the Northern Tablelands of NSW.

The cushion was used in the living room at the homestead and is typical of soft furnishings used in Australian homes in the 1920s and 1930s. It has been made from a silk-like synthetic fibre developed in the 1890s from cellulose. Known as viscose, and later rayon, these fabrics were marketed as ‘Art Silk’. Fabrics such as art silks, taffetas and sateens were commonly used for this style of cushion cover, which gave them a luxurious look and feel.  

During the inter-war years of the 1920s and 30s, the simpler lines of modern design dictated a fashion for more understated soft furnishings than those of the previous century. In the 19th century, comfort was often sacrificed in preference to embellishments that showcased the artistic handcrafts of the women who made them.  Cushions of the 1920s and 30s were considered sleek and modern by comparison and tended to be larger, plainer and much softer in nature. Examples like this one from Wallangra featured high ruched, or pleated, walls and employed shape, colour, prints or weaves as decorative elements. Similar cushions appeared in Australian Home Beautiful and other popular home decorating magazines, which were prominent components of women’s consumer culture of the day. 

About the Author

Marina Grilanc
Marina Grilanc
Assistant curator
Marina Grilanc is Assistant Curator at the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection (CSL&RC), and is part of the Curatorial Team at...