Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105experiences, the biographical reports published about him in Australian design magazines frequently included wrong dates and other misleading or inaccurate information. One example is his mid 1960s claim, in a Philippines design magazine, Pabjour, that he was awarded by Queen Elizabeth II, during the Royal visit of February–April 1954, a Bronze Medal and Citation for advancement of Australian architecture. Nancy does not remember her husband receiving this award and his name does not appear in official medals lists for that visit. Why did Snelling also mislead and lie about his connections to Wright, his ‘time’ at Taliesin West, ‘involvement’ in design of Wright’s VC Morris gift shop, American ‘studies’ in architecture, living ‘from New York to Hollywood’, gaining a ‘junior partnership’ with Honnolds, ‘employment’ with other US architectural offices and experience at designing ‘tall department stores’? The following scenario is surmised: Snelling was the only child of working class parents—and he had grown up in provincial towns with fantasies of making a success of himself in Hollywood, the storytelling capital of the world. By the time he realised that his future career instead was to be in Sydney, he was already 34. He had been successful as an entrepreneur in commercial art and design, but his relentless ambition was now being thwarted. He had been rejected by his first architectural employer, and initially could not be registered as an architect in Australia. As an imaginative artist, a talented publicity man, a practical businessman and a social climber, Snelling might have decided that he needed to ‘ramp himself up’ to establish the stature required to compete with Seidler and other newly emerging modernist architects in Sydney. It would have been necessary to learn enough to gain local registration—and his dedication to that task was exemplary. But to lead his chosen field, more credentials would be required. Because he had spent some time in California, and had not immersed himself in Sydney’s architectural circles, he could ‘spin’ his personal story without much fear of contradiction. Architects sometimes tend to exhibit certain occupational propensities: to develop creative ideologies which they define as ‘the truth’, to feel intellectually superior to clients and followers of their work, and to mislead clients, council authorities, neighbours of their sites and journalists, when they deem it necessary to overcome planning approval obstacles that threaten their visions. Snelling was a natural with all of these vocational characteristics. could find, buying materials as they could afford them—and with Snelling always looking for good deals. For example, in 1954, he obtained a large quantity of Victorian sandstone blocks from his clients’ development site in Margaret Street. These were waste materials from his demolition of a Victorian office building to construct the modern Hartford Insurance Company headquarters. According to Nancy, ‘that’s where we got the big lintel for the fireplace ... he was full of those little tricks.’ Meanwhile, Snelling continued to make a name for himself in social, design and architectural circles—and he was serious about passing his registration exams. At his first examinations in August and September 1950, in Room 13 of the Architectural Department at Sydney Technical College, he passed three tests (C, Db and E) but failed six others, including design. (Only four of 23 examinees passed in that year.) Next year, examined in August at the University of Sydney School of Architecture, he did much better; passing subjects A, Ca, Cb, Da, Db and E, while again failing the two B (structures) and two F (history of architecture) modules. (In this year, only two people passed the entire suite of exams.) But the Board of Architects’ exam records, lodged in the NSW State Archives, reveal a drama in his third testing of 1952. On one hand, he finally passed the pesky B topics but was absent for the oral tests on his F subjects, so still was not registrable. On turning a page of the records, however, it is revealed, in faded ink handwriting, that Snelling was later granted a special oral examination in the F subjects, by the University of Sydney’s Professor Towndrow on behalf of the Board’s examination committee, which finally bestowed his last required pass marks. After gaining registration via this tortuous but remarkably brief method of study (compared to a formal university course), Snelling finally was accepted as a member of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 1953. But later associates remember that he retained a sense of bitterness that he had been failed in design. Despite his struggle to gain formal qualifications, he already had obtained a substantial amount of publicity for his furniture, commercial interiors, houses and the Hartford insurance building. He also was the focus of short biographies in trade magazines—and he used these summaries to embellish his reputation. Although his Hollywood tales to New Zealanders had been supported by photographs and obviously arose from personal DOUGLAS SNELLING DOUGLAS SNELLING 50 51 1940–1955 1940–1955