Rippon Lea House and Gardens

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — The matter I wish to raise is for the Minister for the Arts, and the action I seek is that the minister attend Rippon Lea House and Gardens and tour this magnificent facility with a view to exploring possible future arts, music and performance opportunities.

Rippon Lea estate is a magnificent facility, and it has a rich history in Elsternwick, which is in my electorate. It was purchased and built in 1868 by a former politician, Frederick Sargood, who was also a wealthy philanthropist and businessman. He built the facility, which contained 15 rooms and beautiful gardens, and it was the envy of many who lived in the area. The estate was sold in 1903 to a consortium headed by Thomas Bent, who a year later became Premier of Victoria, so there is a very strong political connection to the Rippon Lea estate. Unfortunately the current member for the area does not have the same sort of residence.

In 1956 a section of the estate was compulsorily acquired by the state government to house ABC Television, and the Melbourne Olympic Games were broadcast from those studios. A number of later productions were also shot there, including Countdown and The Late Show. In 1972 the Rippon Lea estate was bequeathed to the National Trust, and from that point on it was utilised as a home for the people.

The home has been involved with a number of great things since. I understand the minister will be opening a Love, Desire and Riches — The Fashion of Weddings exhibition, which will examine the intersection between film, historic fashion and the social narratives of weddings. That exhibition will include a vast collection of dresses from the 18th to the 21st centuries. Last year Rippon Lea hosted another exhibition in which costumes from the 1920s were displayed, and costumes from ABC TV’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries were featured. That exhibition was so successful that it was extended several times.

A number of music performances have also been held in the gardens. In 1994 a twilight chamber music concert was performed, which has since become a staple feature and will be performed again this year. There have also been a lot of other activities, including plays and festivals.

Rippon Lea is a beautiful facility, and there is an excellent opportunity for us to extend its use to more arts activities, whether they be music, dance or further exhibitions of the type that have recently been displayed. I ask the minister to tour Rippon Lea and consider whether its use can be extended to international events, exhibitions, displays and arts festivals.

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