Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Statement by the Speaker
Higgins Electorate: Duldig Studio
Recently, I was delighted to take federal minister for the arts, Paul Fletcher, to the Duldig Studio museum in my electorate of Higgins to show him the results of a small federal grant used to preserve a precious piece of Australia's migrant history. It was deeply moving to hear the story of Karl and Slawa Duldig, a young, artistic Jewish couple who fled Nazi occupied Vienna before finally establishing a new home for themselves and their young family in Australia. Slawa was a talented artist and pioneering woman of her time. Extraordinarily she was the inventor of the foldable umbrella. In fact, she took out worldwide patents for her invention in 1929. The umbrella went on to production in Austria and Germany and Slawa received royalties from it until 1938. Heartbreakingly, she had to sell those patents before fleeing Nazi occupied Vienna. A hand built prototype of the folding umbrella is part of the extensive collection of work at Duldig Studio museum in Malvern. I know the minister was as impressed as I was as this timeless piece of female entrepreneurship. In 1996 the couple's daughter Eva de Jong-Duldig opened the studio as a museum to continue the proud legacy of this amazingly inventive and resilient couple. Out of darkness has come light. What a woman Slawa must have been. Whenever I open an umbrella I think of her.