Jack Ricketts trained as a scenic designer and artist in Sydney. He knew many of Australia's scenic designers. Below are some notes his made on the history of his profession.
Before I write of the last fifty years let the late W Wiseman tells us something of its earlier history he says;
Notes on early Scenic Design in Australia
W J Wilson scenic artist landed in Melbourne March 6th 1855. His grandfather J Wilson , his father W G Wilson was scenic artist for Drury Lane Covent Garden and other London Theatres. In an interview with him he said in Melbourne at the time of arrival 1855, there was only one theatre, (the Queens) under management of George Coppin, Charles Young and J P Hydes. This theatre had an act drop painted by Mr William Pitt, The father of William Pitt the architect who in later years designed and built the Kings Theatre Melbourne and many theatres in New Zealand.
The Theatre Royal and Coppin's Olympic were in the course of construction. The Royal opened on the 16th July 1858, the play being the School for Scandal The Olympic 31st of July 1855, the plays being The Lady of Lyons and ( To oblige Benson, the other scene painters in Melbourne were William Pitt, John Hemmings Mr Opie, mr Tannant? Mr ar...? and Herr Habbe). I came to Sydney in 1861 and painted for Ralph Tolano then lessee of The Lyceum Theatre York Street, This theatre was afterwards known as the Queens, being rechristened by ...F Hardying? Habbe and WJ Wilson. In 1863 the old Prince of Wales Theatre (now the Theatre Royal) was rebuilt after the fire in October 1860. On Monday August the 20th 1870, Habbe and W J Wilson opened the Victoria Theatre, Pitt Street with the Gregory? Troupe. That was before John Bennets leeseeship. the Victoria Theatre was burnt down in... and no theatre erected on its site. For this season, Habbe and Wilson painted a new act drop the centre piece depicted Circular Quay.