Oriental Hotel – Collins Street c1965
Oriental Hotel – Collins Street
oil on canvasboard
Dimensions (H x W x D)
33.2 x 44.6 cm (frame size)
signed lr: FRANK CARTER
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection
British-born artist Frank Carter (1900–?) studied at the Nottingham School of Art and arrived in Australia around 1931. He trained in advertising art and was employed as an industrial designer in both England and Australia, but maintained his practice as an oil painter. Carter was particularly noted for his street scenes, which included Melbourne vistas such as this painting of the ‘Paris end’ of Collins Street, showing pavement tables outside the Oriental Hotel, which once stood at no. 33. The painting was acquired for the Art and Heritage Collection in 2018.
Built in 1878, the Oriental Hotel was one of Melbourne’s finest dining and accommodation venues. It is seared into public memory not only for its sophistication but also for accommodating Melbourne’s first pavement cafe and thus for its central role in this end of the street being known as the ‘Paris end’ of Collins. Given that today cafes spill out endlessly across the pavements lining our city streets and lanes, it is difficult to imagine that Melbourne City Council refused the Oriental’s first application for such an arrangement, made in 1933. The reason? It would be too disruptive to pedestrian traffic – and that at a time when Melbourne’s population was little over 900,000. The council did, however, eventually grant a permit for outdoor dining in the 1950s – and so, the very Parisian custom of dining côté rue was adopted at the Oriental Hotel.