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Florence Broadhurst

1899 – 1977

Florence Broadhurst (1899-1977), designer, grew up in rural Queensland, where she won a singing competition in 1915 and performed regularly in various towns. In the early 1920s she travelled to southeast Asia, where as 'Miss Bobby' she appeared to good notices as a cabaret and musical comedy performer. In 1926 she established a Performing Arts Academy in Shanghai. She married in England in 1929 and with her husband became co-director and designer for Pellier Ltd, a fashionable Mayfair dress salon. In 1949 she returned to Australia. After ten years of painting and exhibiting, she established a wallpaper business, Australian (Hand Printed) Wallpapers Pty Ltd in St Leonards, Sydney, which later became Florence Broadhurst Wallpapers Pty Ltd in Paddington. Finding the monochromatic, muted tonings that Australians favoured for interiors insufficiently vigorous to 'withstand modern living', she responded with vibrant oversized prints. The Broadhurst Design Collection had grown to some 800 patterns when Broadhurst was murdered in October 1977. The case has never been solved. More than 500 examples of her prints have been revived by Signature Prints, a Sydney business marketing Broadhurst wallpaper, textiles and art, and the designs have been archived by the Powerhouse Museum. Gillian Armstrong's feature film about Broadhurst, Unfolding Florence, and Helen O'Neil's lavishly-designed biography of the designer both appeared in 2006.

Updated 2018