Already $650,000 has been raised to keep Geoff Hannah’s masterwork in Lismore. Let’s raise the bar to $1.0m and celebrate one of the world’s best-ever pieces of furniture staying in the place where it was created.
In the past thirty years Lismore master craftsman Geoff Hannah has created five magnificent timber cabinets, with this one, known simply as the Hannah Cabinet is undoubtedly the finest, largest and most technically accomplished of them all.
With a passion for 18th and 19th century furniture Geoff was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1980, travelling to Europe to examine the intricacies of iconic pieces in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris and the Palace of Versailles.
“Two local doctors played a role in undertaking this once in a lifetime experience,” said Geoff.
“Dr Nick Kerkenezov encouraged me to apply for the Churchill Fellowship and whilst away on the three month study tour it was Dr John Chadwick and his wife Josanne who regularly kept in touch with Rhonda [Geoff’s wife] and the two kids, and took them on weekend getaways.”
In1988 Geoff displayed his first intricate marquetry cabinet, The Bicentennial Cabinet, which was first exhibited in the Sydney Opera House. The Yarralumla Cabinet followed in 1991 and was purchased by the Australiana Fund for the Governor-General’s residence in Canberra. In 2000, while visiting the Olympics in Sydney, a Belgium businessman recognised Geoff’s outstanding talent and quickly bought the third cabinet, The Australiana Cabinet, shipping it back to his international headquarters on the Grand Place in Antwerp.
Then came The Hannah Cabinet, rich with its complex marquetry, parquetry, 17 varieties of semi precious and precious stones, rare shells and even a piece of Marie-Antoinette’s silk brocade border from her Versailles summer bedroom.
More than six years in the making it includes 34 different types of solid timbers and veneers, with the main frame being mahogany and the six columns carved from the one solid piece of ebony wood. The Hannah Cabinet has a treasure trove of secrets to divulge. Four tall front doors open to reveal multiple drawers and a further 14 doors in tiers decorated with veneer inlays of birds, bugs and flora. Several secret drawers have not been seen and will only be revealed to the ultimate purchaser.
“Geoff’s cabinets go beyond the realm of furniture and the Lismore Regional Gallery, like Bungendore Wood Works Gallery before it, recognises the iconic status of his work and in particular the importance of The Hannah Cabinet to the Lismore region and Australia,” said Gaela Hurford, a member of the Acquisition Team.
On behalf of the Lismore Regional Gallery the group has taken on the challenge of raising $1.0 million to purchase this magnificent piece for the gallery’s permanent collection. It would also be made available for short periods to travel within Australia for specific exhibitions.
“We have come up with a unique way of raising money to purchase the cabinet by allowing 92 of the 140 drawers to be sponsored,” said Brian Henry, another member of the Acquisition Team. “The value of the drawers range from $5,000 to $100,000 and sponsors receive formal recognition and are offered a private viewing,” he said.
“To date we have raised over $360,000 locally and the NSW State Government was so impressed with the local response and recognised its unique value, not only to the local region but to Australia, that they donated a further $250,000.” As well as being awarded the Churchill Fellowship, Geoff was made an Honorary Fellow of Southern Cross University in 2009 and was awarded an OAM in 2018 for services to the visual arts.
A public opening of The Hannah Cabinet takes place every Wednesday at 10.30am and every 4th Sunday at 11.00am at the Lismore Regional Gallery.
For more information about making a tax deductible donation or pledge please contact Brian Henry on 0428 251834 or Gaela Hurford on 0419 868 678, or visit www.hannahcabinet.com