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Making Magic: The Marion Mahony Griffin…
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Making Magic: The Marion Mahony Griffin Story

by Glenda Korporaal

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I picked up this book straight away as soon as I saw it at the library because I had read Grand Obsessions: The Life and Work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, by Alasdair McGregor. McGregor’s biography of the husband-and-wife designers of our national capital won the National Biography Award in 2011 and even though it was a bit heavy-going in places, I thought it was an excellent book. It was, I also thought, fair to Marion Mahony Griffin who is a bit of an unsung hero in the national consciousness, making it clear that her contributions were integral to the partnership despite her low profile authorship.

Journalist Glenda Korporaal’s biography of Marion Mahony Griffin aims to go one step further and elevate her subject’s importance to the Chicago Prairie School of Architecture. It’s a worthy aim, but IMO it falls short because of the elusive nature of MMG’s authorship. MMG collaborated with her husband and despite her status as the first woman in America to become a licensed architect was apparently content to let him take the limelight. If the exhaustive research of Korporaal and McGregor has failed to find much in the way of documentary evidence of MMG’s specific architectural input, then clear evidence is unlikely to exist. As this NYT article shows, MMG was her own worst enemy in terms of staking a claim to her own architectural legacy.

However, the importance of this bio (which seems not to have had its fair share of attention in the LitBlogSphere if my Google search for reviews is any indication) is that it is about the female half of an undisputed duo, and it is about MMG’s life, an interesting life in its own right.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2016/12/09/making-magic-the-marion-mahony-griffin-story-by-glenda-korporaal/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Dec 8, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0992476909, Paperback)

She was the American woman who changed Australian history. She broke through barriers for women in architecture and spent 15 years working for Chicago architect Frank Lloyd Wright, in the formative years of the Prairie School of Architecture. Then she teamed up with Walter Burley Griffin working with him in winning the design contest for the new Australian capital city, Canberra. She was an architect, artist, environmentalist, social observer and community builder, yet her work has been constantly overshadowed by the famous men in her life. The first biography of Marion Mahony Griffin in her own right, Making Magic tells Marion's story. It dates back to the days of Abraham Lincoln who was friends with her grandparents as a travelling lawyer in Illinois. It follows the story of her life over three continents - America, Australia and India. And her love affair with her husband which produced such historic results. A woman with a fierce sense of idealism and a passion for nature, Marion always had a mind of her own. She developed fine artistic and architectural skills which helped to make Wright and then Griffin famous. A woman in a man's world, she made history with her pioneering role as a female architect. Her creative work was sheer magic. Faced with her own challenges, she drew on her energy and creativity to refashion her role in a new country. She was instrumental in setting up a unique community in the Sydney suburb of Castlecrag. Her paintings, drawings and descriptions of the Australian bushland produced another exercise in magic. Yet few know her real story. Making Magic comes as Marion's role is now being recognised with accolades in America and Australia. Northwestern University Professor David Van Zanten describes her as the Frida Kahlo of the Chicago school of architecture. "Everywhere and nowhere, forgotten then suddenly remembered, unique in her work." Drawing on her diaries and historical records in libraries in Australia and America, and conversations with Griffin experts home owners and others with links to Marion's life, Making Magic tells the story of a most unusual woman. It puts the case for her recognition as an important figure who emerged from Chicago's Prairie School of architecture and tells an inspiring story of a woman and her own special brand of magic. About the Author: Glenda Korporaal is a journalist and writer based in Sydney, Australia. She has lived in Canberra and Washington, DC, and has a Master of Arts (Economics) from George Washington University, Washington, DC. The author of four books, she has a long time fascination with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and interest in the ties between Australia and America.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:43:20 -0500)

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