Fireplace screen with painting of birds and flowers, made by Abraham Needham

The Curtin family gathered in front of the lounge room fireplace each night during cold weather. Firewood, which was delivered via the rear laneway, was stored in the woodshed on the back fence. John Curtin did not believe that chopping wood was women’s work. He, or John Jr, cut enough for the evening, carried it inside and placed it on the brick hearth. Apart from the wood stove in the kitchen there was no other room heating in the house until around 1932, when some power points were installed so that the family could listen to test cricket on their new radio. Some electric radiators were bought at this time.

John Curtin Jr remembered that the screen was hinged at its centre for convenient storage, 'Grandpa made fireguards out of three-ply wooden sheets and wood-stained them before painting flower motifs as decorations. They could fold it back like that when it wasn’t being used and it would cover most of the fireplace. So you put it there to hide the fact that the fireplace hadn’t been cleaned, or it looked better than what was behind it because Grandpa had painted a cockatoo.'