Queensland to a T Our stories told through tea towels

Free exhibition
6 August 2022 - 22 January 2023
slq Gallery, level 2

Queensland to a T dishes the dirt on the qualities that made tea towels desirable Queenslandiana and how we see them now. Featuring the Glenn R. Cooke Souvenir Textile Collection, this is a unique look into Queensland’s culture and identity.

So, soak up history and all things nostalgic and memorable while you reminisce, remember and see what comes out in the wash.


Crop of tourist tea towel featuring the Big Pineapple on an orange background

Queensland to a T curator's tour

Wed 10 Aug · 11–11:45am + 11 more events
Join the curator of Queensland to a T for a tour of the exhibition and discover the stories behind the humble tea towel. Hear insights into Queensland's culture and identity, and get a glimpse into the Glenn R. Cooke Souvenir Textiles collection (holding over 1500 items). Uncover what made tea towels desirable Queenslandiana and how we see them now. Book your space now!

Tea towel design and sewing workshops

Sat 13 Aug · 1–5pm + 1 more events
To celebrate the opening of Queensland to a T, we are giving you the chance to create your very own tea towel - an often overlooked, but ever-present kitchen accessory. No, we're not going to ask you to dry up... In week one, soak up all the things that made tea towels popular souvenirs on a curator's tour. And then, get creative, make your own tea towel, and learn how to use the free contemporary tools in State Library’s maker space. For week two, we’ll get your design printed for you to take home as the finished product and teach you to use our sewing machines, turning your printed design into a tea towel tote.   No inductions are necessary for this workshop. On sale 6pm Thursday 4 August.

Cool forms, cool function – design your own breeze block workshop

Sat 20 Aug · 1–4am + 1 more events
Breeze blocks are distinctive, iconic, functional and appealing. Their unique patterns are featured across Queensland's coastal regionals and beyond, bringing a sense of relaxed nostalgia. Recent years have seen the resurgence of breeze blocks through tropical modernist designs and a nod to urban resort lifestyles.   This workshop is your chance to own a piece of an iconic Queensland style. Use State Library’s makerspace and get hands-on to make a breeze block! During the workshop you will explore its heritage and contemporary environments and delve into our vast photographic collection of Queensland homes. We will then introduce you to design templates, help you cut a mould using the makerspace equipment and finally pour, set and finish your own breeze block to take home.  This is a two-part workshop, running on 20 Aug and 3 Sept. You need to be able to come to both dates. Tickets on sale 6 pm Thursday 4 August. 


The Glenn R. Cooke Souvenir Textile Collection comprises over 1500 souvenir tea towels of Queensland. What is your tea towel story? We'd love to know! Click on any tea towel to add images of your own to this album, share your memories and tell us which ones you recognise. 


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From the blog

Glenn Cooke Collection of Souvenir Queensland Tea Towels

18 February 2013
A collection of tea towels may not seem very exciting, but to a collector it can be very meaningful. Some travelers like to keep a detailed diary or journal of the places they visit, while others purchase souvenirs such as a tea towels to remind them where they have been. It can also become an obsession; hunting down these beautifully designed textiles that paint a vivid picture of tourism over many years. The State Library of Queensland has recently acquired a wonderful collection of vintage Queensland souvenir tea towels, tablecloths and other miscellaneous items that are available as part of the original materials collection, on level 4 of the State Library. The collection comprises 800 tea towels, depicting various places throughout Queensland, including Cairns, Charters Towers, the Gold Coast, Far North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, to name just a few. The beauty and colour of the graphics - from stunning floral designs to kitsch animal ones and everything in between - makes this a truly unique and fascinating collection that should be seen.Janette Garrad - Library Technician, State Library of Queensland 

Wish You Were Here - Vintage Postcards of Toowoomba

24 July 2017
Today’s tour of turn-of-the-20th-century Toowoomba is brought to you by digitised postcards from our collection, while the commentary is provided by Darling Downs, Queensland, the garden of Australia, a book produced by the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau in 1908. So make yourself comfortable and get ready to discover "the garden of Australia".Let the tour commence…."Toowoomba...is the capital of the great plateau of the Darling Downs." Margaret Street, Toowoomba, Queensland ca. 1906. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 4831-0005-0194"Whichever way you look, you are met by a series of beautiful pictures... In the town itself, too, are pictures of streets shadowed in full-foliaged trees, of handsome residences lost in embowering greenery, of fine churches, and large public buildings rising from commanding sites, of extensive parks, and waters fringed with the green trailing curtains of the willow." Streetscape of the houses on Herries Street, Toowoomba. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image APE-062-0001-0008 Horses and carriages in Ruthven Street, Toowoomba, Queensland. Undated. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 4831-0005-0021 Grand Hotel in Russell Street, Toowoomba, Queensland ca. 1905. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 4831-0005-0020"Toowoomba has no lack of public buildings and institutions. The present municipal office were erected in 1901 at a cost (including furniture) of £11,000. The accommodation is generous, and includes a theatre and one of the best school of arts reading-rooms in the State. The Technical College also occupies a portion of the building." Town Hall, Toowoomba, ca. 1910. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 4831-0005-0203" is distant 101 miles by railway from Brisbane. The Sydney express mail train passes each way through Toowoomba daily; and trains leave daily from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Ipswich, Warwick, Dalby, Roma, Mitchell, Charleville, Cunnamulla, Pittsworth, Crow's Nest, Cabarlah, Oakey, and Jondaryan. Through trains from Toowoomba to Cunnamulla, in the far West, leave every Tuesday and Friday, calling at all intermediate stations. There is an excellent and well-provided refreshment-room at the Toowoomba station." Railway station, Toowoomba, Queensland, ca. 1910. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 4831-0005-0202 Passenger train at the Spring Bluff Railway Station, Toowoomba Range, Queensland ca. 1907. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 4831-0005-0200"The two most flourishing public societies in Toowoomba are the Royal Agricultural Society, formed in 1859, to encourage stock-raising and husbandry; and the Austral Association, founded in 1903 by Mr Essex Evans and a few enthusiasts, to forward the cause of Art, Literature, Music"The annual shows of the Royal are known all over Australia, and the finest specimens of stock and produce that the surrounding districts and the States of New South Wales and Victoria can raise are to be seen at the Annual Exhibition in August. This show is an education in itself. The entries have increased from 684 in 1891 to 2,054 in 1907." Royal Agricultural Show, Toowoomba, ca. 1905. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 194796"The commercial importance of the city may be gauged by the fact that the following banking institutions have branch establishments in Toowoomba, viz: - The Union Bank of Australia, Ltd., Bank of New South Wales, Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, Ltd., Bank of Australasia, Queensland National Bank, Ltd., Royal Bank of Queensland, Ltd., and the Australian Joint Stock Bank, Ltd. Australian Joint Stock Bank ,Toowoomba, ca. 1905. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 194795"Masonry and kindred associations are well to the fore. There are four Masonic lodges, three lodges of Oddfellows, A.O. Forresters, a Rechabite Society, several Blue Ribbon Societies, and two other benefit societies. The Caledonian and Hibernians have each a society." Masonic Hall, Toowoomba, ca. 1910. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg Australian Joint Stock Bank ,Toowoomba, ca. 1905. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 194794"Education is liberally provided for. There are fifteen primary State schools in the city and district. There are many other private schools. The State Grammar School for boys, erected in 1877, at a cost of £17,000, is well patronised, and its handsome buildings form a conspicuous landmark on the east portion of the city." Hand coloured postcard of the Grammar School at Toowoomba. Undated. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 184073"It is the opinion of many thoughtful men in New South Wales, Victoria, and New Zealand that before another thirty years Toowoomba will become the principal inland city of the Commonwealth, having in its immediate vicinity land capable of supporting millions of people, and being the central depot of railway lines tapping the north-eastern, south-western and western districts for over 500 miles."Further reading: Wish You Were Here - Vintage Postcards of Brisbane

Queensland Country Women’s Association turns 100!

29 March 2022
The Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) celebrates 100 years of continuous service in Queensland on 11 August 2022 and March 30 (today) marks the official launch of the centenary year with a gala evening for past state officers and partners, sponsors, members and official guests acknowledging the energy and work of the CWA founders and their support given to women and families across the state since the organisation was first formed. The Queensland Country Women’s Association has 220 branches all over Queensland. This blog acknowledges the 100 years of service by women of Queensland. 

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