The National Library of Australia’s ephemera collection aims to document significant national events like the recent bushfires by collecting all kinds of material -- including Hawaiian shirts printed with Scott Morrison’s face.
A Hawaiian-print shirt emblazoned with Scott Morrison's face has been officially added to the National Library of Australia archives, after staff determined that the shirt was "very central" to the national dialogue around the recent bushfires.
The "Mahalo Scomo" shirt, which was designed by Australian menswear company MR. KOYA, features Scott Morrison's face as a repeating motif, referencing the Prime Minister's now-infamous decision to head on holiday in Hawaii during the bushfire crisis.
MR. KOYA released the shirt as part of a fundraising appeal for the NSW Rural Fire Service, donating 100 percent of profits to the organisation. The brand reports that more than 1000 shirts were sold, raising $35,891 for the RFS.
It's that huge response which attracted the attention of the National Library of Australia, which maintains a collection of ephemera as a record of Australian life, popular culture, and national events.
"It's the really minor things that are produced and often forgotten -- flyers, pamphlets, stickers, advertisements et cetera," said Erica Ryan, the assistant director in charge of the library's Printed Australiana collection.
"But over time they do help to tell a story of what's been happening around the country."
With the bushfires we're aiming to collect widely to document the situation as it unfolded, the aftermath and recovery, and also the public sentiments.
Ryan told The Feed that her team originally reached out to MR. KOYA hoping to archive a swing tag or advertisement for the shirt, but were delighted when the brand donated a shirt as well.
Collection of materials related to the bushfire crisis is still ongoing, but so far the Scott Morrison shirt sits alongside tags from the Koalas of NYC campaign, which attached plush toys to street poles around the US to raise awareness about the Australian bushfire crisis, as well as brochures and fundraising materials for charities, and the order of service for the funeral of a man who died defending a property from bushfires in Batlow.
"We've got it all. You never cease to be amused or astounded by how something can be advertised."
The National Library of Australia also collects ephemera from other significant national events, elections in particular.
"We've got it all," Ryan told The Feed. "It's fun. There's some very pointed comments and positions posed."
"We've got a life-size cutout of Bob Katter that someone drove to us. We've got prime ministerial teabags, we've got Stop Adani earrings, we've got squeaky toys in the shape of Prime Ministers -- there's a Julia Gillard dog toy."
"We've got a replica of the Obama coffee mug that was a bit controversial when it came to Parliament House with the name spelled wrong. The originals were all destroyed, but we bought a replica online."
Parts of the library's ephemera collection are searchable online, if you're interested in browsing the archives.
"We are privileged to be part of the formed collection of ephemera on the bushfire crisis."
MR. KOYA co-founder Yema Akbar said the company was "privileged" to be part of the collection.
"The support received has been truly inspirational and is a testament to the larrikin spirit of Australians, digging deep to have a cheeky laugh and support a fantastic cause."
"We weren't sure how the shirts would be received, but we've been thrilled with the overwhelming reaction."