Born in Toowoomba in 1903, Douglas Annand was a highly accomplished graphic designer, textile designer, muralist and sculptor. Having grown up in Brisbane, where he attended night classes at Brisbane Central Technical College, Annand moved to Sydney in 1930. In Sydney, Annand became highly successful as a freelance designer; his work included the development of corporate images for such well-known Australian companies as Union Oil, Farmer’s and David Jones, as well as designs for The Home magazine and the Australian National Travel Association [see NGA 2001 exhibition catalogue]. His design for the ceiling of the Australian pavilion at the 1937 Paris Exposition, along with his role as art director for the Australian Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, gained Annand international recognition and brought Australia to the forefront of international design.

In anticipation of the Second World War, during the late 1930s Annand became involved in a camouflage group formed by zoology Professor William Dakin in response to the severe lack of camouflage and concealment strategies specific to the Australian environment. With members including Frank Hinder, Robert Emerson-Curtis, Sydney Ure Smith , Russel Roberts and Professor Leslie Wilkinson, the group dedicated itself to exploring issues of concealment and developing new techniques for camouflage in Australia, independent of any Government support. At the outbreak of war, the group became the foundation of the Camouflage Committee, which was formed by the Ministry of Home Security. Annand’s background in design, together with his strong interest in nature made him the perfect candidate for the role of a camouflage artist, and from 1941-1944 he was employed by the Royal Australian Air Force as a camouflage officer. During his years of service, Annand produced a large body of works documenting aerial surveillance of coastlines and islands off the Queensland coast. Through his attention to detail and understanding of colour and landscapes Annand provided a significant contribution to Australian camouflage research.

Following the war, Annand went back to his work as a freelance designer, whilst simultaneously expanding his range of skills and knowledge in a variety of new media. He produced textile designs, sculptures, murals, mixed media designs, and later became interested in architectural design and glass structures. Throughout his life, Annand illustrated a perpetual passion for all aspects of art and design, and this did not go unnoticed. Prior to his death in 1976 Annand won the Sulman prize three times, and his posters received prizes in Adelaide and Milan. The Australian War Memorial holds 72 of the studies and watercolours he completed during his work as a camouflage artist.

The Powerhouse Museum collection includes two Douglas Annand design archives, which are a valuable record of the design and architectural activity occurring in Sydney and Australia between the 1930s and 1970s. The first archive consists of material taken from Annand’s studio in Killara after he passed away. It includes ideas, sketches and exhibition catalogues, Annand’s designs for national and international architectural murals, posters and textiles, and objects relating to architectural commissions which Annand undertook during the 1950s and 60s.

The second archive includes material such as catalogues, notebooks, sketches and drawings, photographs, posters and correspondence relating to most of the projects Annand undertook during his career. The collection also includes artworks, sculptures, and textile, metal and glass objects.

The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra also holds a collection of Annand’s art-related material.

Addendum from Eye magazine
Douglas Annand (1903-1976) was part of an Australian graphic design tradition concerned more with art and aesthetics than commercialisation. Unlike most of his colleagues, he chose not to work overseas and instead set new standards for Australian designers, creating images that were international in their philosophy, yet typically Australian. He was also a watercolourist, a textile designer, a muralist and a sculptor of originality and style. In 1937 Annand was commissioned to design the brochure and ceiling mural for the Australian Pavilion at the Paris Exposition designed unsuccessfully by architects Stephenson & Turner. In 1939 he was made design director for the Australian Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, this time supervising Stephenson & Turner. This widely admired design was featured in Australian Art Annual 1939 and the Architectural Review selected it in its Special New York World’s Fair issue. He was rewarded in 1940 with a bronze medal from the Australian Commercial and Industrial Artists’ Association. In 2003, Melbourne’s Heide Museum and Gallery staged a retrospective exhibition of his work.

Dimcevska, Vicky, Assistant Curator, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT
Gabrielle Eade, Powerhouse Museum
Davina Jackson
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