Feathers (20), 'Kylie feathers', performance props, polyethylene foam / calico / wire / fibreglass / aluminium, designed by Michael Wilkinson, made by Robyn Grant, Stephanie Blake, Asher Reed Ceremonies Workshop, used in 'Parade of Icons' Kylie Minogue segment Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2000
These feathers were used as props during Kylie Minogue's performance at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games, an important event in the recent history of Sydney and NSW. They has the potential to communicate in exhibitions and publications about the Sydney Olympic Games and has significance in its design, making, use and the cultural meanings ascribed to it.
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.
Irreverent humour was evident from the opening (untelevised) sequence, in which the sports satirists Roy Slaven and HG Nelson welcomed the crowd and coached them in how to use the contents of the small eskies that each of the 110,000 audience members could find on their seats. These contained essential Australian backyard barbecue equipment including fly-swats which, when held aloft, gave a distinctively Australian flavour to the Mexican wave.
Kylie Minogue was the major star of the closing ceremony. She entered the arena during the 'Parade of Icons' segment on a giant thong wearing a sundress (2001/84/132) exactly the same type as worn by Nikki Webster in the opening ceremony. While performing ABBA's 'Dancing Queen' surrounded by chorus boys brandishing the feathers, her sundress was removed to reveal the 'showgirl' costume (2001/84/133). The song ended with a tableau of Kylie in front of the symmetrically arranged feathers, held by the dancing boys.
The 'showgirl' image was accentuated on Minogue's 2001 Australian tour, with glitzy costumes, elaborate choreography, dazzling sets and props, all resembling 1950s Hollywood musicals. Kylie concluded the 'Parade of Icons' with her hot song 'On a Night Like This'.
The wit and quality of the 'Parade of Icons' showed the influence of the late Peter Tully as artistic director of the Mardi Gras in, for example, the 'pit chicks' in silver hot pants who carried the eyelashes, stiletto shoes 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 decidedly weird.
Michael Wilkinson, Sydney NSW, 2000 Early designs of feathers were part of Kylie's 'Showgirl' costume. Other feather designs were part of Kylie's dancers props. The size of the feathers evolved as the ultimate size and weight for handling during the dancing sequence became apparent. The first prototypes were made of styrene sheet, cut to shape and reinforced with fibreglass rods and a 10mm square aluminium tube for centre stem. This prototype proved much too heavy and weak while being moved about quickly. The following prototypes were made in sheet polyethylene sheet and covered in calico, finished with paint and glitter. The size started much larger and was reduced as the dance sequence showed handling required smaller feathers.
Ceremonies prop makers Robyn Grant, Stephanie Blake, Asher Reed, Ceremonies workshop, Eveleigh, Redfern, 2000 The shape of the feathers were cut from sheet polyethylene. 1mm wire was added as a stem for each feather point and then covered with calico, coated with PVA glue. A centre stem of fibreglass rod and 10mm square aluminium tube were then fixed to either side. The lower exposed handle section then wrapped in polyethylene sheet for grip. A standard D handle was mounted to the stem for additional grip. The entire feather was then painted and glittered for finish.
Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony 'Parade of Icons' segment, Kylie Minogue performance, Stadium Australia, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush, 1 October 2000.
Made for and owned by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after the Games.