Performance costume, titled "Christine Anu dress", shell/metal/fabric designed by Jennifer Irwin, made in the Ceremonies Costume Workshop, used in Closing Ceremony of Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000
The Christine Anu costume features a gown made from linked shell squares. The costume was designed by Jennifer Irwin and manufactured in the Ceremonies Costume Workshop. The gown was worn with single Mabo pearl earrings belonging to the designer. The costume featured in the Island Home segment of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony. It was worn by Christine Anu during her performance of "My Island Home".
The closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place on Sunday 1 October at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay. It included solemn formalities, an informal parade of athletes and a farewell party that took the form of an unregimented parade with floats that celebrated and often mocked aspects of Australian popular culture. The intention was to conduct the ceremony with decorum until the extinction of the Olympic flame, and then to unleash a party. The artistic director of the closing ceremony David Atkins explained 'The athletes have finished competition, and are ready to party, and we have set about creating a party to end all parties. We have decided to invite everyone into our giant Australian backyard - fully equipped with Hills Hoists, barbecues, an eclectic mix of music, performers and all manner of Australiana. Australians have a tradition of throwing great parties, and this one will be imbued with a sense of fun, larrikinism and goodwill.' According to Ric Birch (speaking on Channel 7's 'Olympic Sunrise'), the opening ceremony was to represent Australia at large, but the closing ceremony was Sydney's show.
After Vanessa Amorosi's performance of 'Absolutely Everybody', the arena was transformed into a huge dance- floor as 960 ballroom dancing couples in fluorescent costumes danced the samba, tango and jive to the beat of John Paul Young singing 'Love is in the Air'. Although there was no direct allusion to the film 'Strictly Ballroom', the link was implied. The dancers were accompanied by 208 giant dancing feet and the incongruous assembly of oversized kewpie dolls while in mid-field the athletes formed a huge conga line.
As the ceremony unfolded the proliferation of suburban images such as Hills Hoists, blowflies, lifesavers and thongs was treated with self-deprecating irony rather than clichÂ?. The wit and quality of the 'Parade of Icons' showed the influence of the late Peter Tully artistic director of the Mardi Gras. For example, the 'pit chicks' in silver hot pants who carried large eyelash props, the stiletto shoe bikes and giant mascara for the Priscilla bus.
The opening ceremony told a mythic story of nation-building that dwarfed individuals. It was evocative and subtle. The closing ceremony, however, celebrated personality, celebrity and attitude. Loud and brash, more like a rock concert than a profoundly theatrical event, it was an extravagant send-off -- fun, festive, shamelessly excessive and, for an international audience, decidedly weird.
Jennifer Irwin (born Sydney 1958) has designed costumes for numerous Australian dance and theatre productions. Her designs for dance have been seen on stage in 24 countries. She has designed costumes for over 25 works by the Sydney Dance Company and has worked extensively with director and choreographer Stephen Page on his productions for the Bangarra Dance Theatre and for the Australian Ballet. Also with Stephen Page, Irwin designed costumes for the Opening Ceremony for the Festival of the Dreaming (1998) and for Tubowgule - the Opening Ceremony for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival. Irwin also designed the costumes for the Official Ceremony for the Centenary of Federation on 1 January 2001.
Jennifer Irwin's many costume design commissions for dramatic works include collaborations with directors Gale Edwards and Marion Potts for the Sydney Theatre Company and with Neil Armfield for Company B at the Belvoir St Theatre.
Irwin was awarded a Theatre Board (Australia Council) grant to study scenic design at La Scala Opera in Milan, Italy.
Her designs for the Closing Ceremony demonstrate her unique talent of infusing contemporary, cutting edge design with a sensitivity and understanding of dance, movement and cultural significance.
Worn by Christine Anu.
Made for and owned by the Olympic Coordination Authority/Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after use in the Games. Presented to the Powerhouse Museum by the Olympic Coordination Authority, on behalf of the NSW Government