T-shirt, Circus Oz, silk screened cotton, made by Swan Brand, China, screen printed by Hellen Sky, Australia, 1981-1982.
Designed by Hellen Sky, who worked as an aerialist with Soapbox Circus and Circus Oz till the early 1980s. She was also a musician, choreographer and dancer.
The shirt was made in China and is sold under the 'Swan' brand. The design on the front of the shirt was silk screened by Hellen Sky, who worked as an aerialist with Soapbox Circus and Circus Oz till the early 1980s. She was also a musician, choreographer and dancer.
Made and used from 1981-1982
The t-shirt was worn by the donor Kerry Dwyer when she worked with Circus Oz in 1981-1982, operating the lighting (the follow spot), mixing the sound, selling tickets, playing the trumpet in the finale and acting as a general worker. Shirts like these were worn by performers and crew alike because Circus Oz did not make distinctions between performers and workers.
Kerry Dwyer had been a founding member of APG at the Pram Factory and La Mama. With an interest in physical theatre, she became a circus performer, toured with Circus Oz and has directed the Wimmins Circus. Both her children travelled with Circus Oz with their mother. 'It seemed like an romantic thing to do to go off in the circus with the children' (Kerry Dwyer, interview with Peter Cox, April 1998). They joined Circus Oz in 1981 when it went to Port Fairy, then on a Murray River tour, then to Canberra (around Christmas 1981). She and the children lived on the lot with the circus at Sydney's Wentworth Park, June to August 1982. The kids went to school at Darlinghurst but liked to involve themselves with the circus. They operated the fairy floss van, making and selling the confectionery. Nellie also made biscuits on the bus and sold them at interval as 'Nellies bus-made bikkies'. At the ages 6 and 9, Nellie and Jake Blundell called a circus meeting and announced that they wanted to appear in the show performing a clown routine. Along with another boy named Toby, the kids developed their own act, 'The Honeybee and the Hive', making their costumes and devising a routine themselves. (They did not wear the t-shirts in their act). Kerry Dwyer has appeared in the films On Guard and Molly, and has directed films including Bruce Cuts off his Hands.
The t-shirt was a gift from the designer Hellen Sky to the donor Kerry Dwyer.