Derham Groves

Forthcoming Talk at the Melbourne Chinese Studies Group

Date: Friday 3 September 2010, 6pm
Admission $2   All Welcome
Venue: Jenny Florence Room, 3rd Floor, Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets)
Topic: The forgotten Chinese architecture of Arthur Purnell
Speaker: Derham Groves

Arthur Purnell was an Australian architect who lived and worked in Guangzhou, China, between 1900 and 1910. In 1904 he and American engineer Charles Paget established an architectural and engineering firm over there. Purnell & Paget designed a number of important buildings in Guangzhou, including a marvellous cement factory that became Chinese political leader Sun Yat-sen’s headquarters. Almost all of the firm’s buildings in Guangzhou were European-style.  Purnell returned to Australia in 1910 and maintained a busy architectural practice, working either alone or in partnership, virtually up until his death in 1964. He designed hundreds of buildings in Melbourne, ranging from humble garages to huge grandstands. A significant number of these were influenced by his years in Guangzhou: some buildings were for local Chinese clients, some had Chinese-style elements, and some had Chinese names. Unfortunately Purnell has been totally forgotten in Guangzhou and largely forgotten in Melbourne.