Drum, performance prop, polystyrene/calico/twine, designed by Eamon D'Arcy, made by Gustavo Balboa, Charles Gelliespie - Ceremonies Workshop, used in the 'Arrivals' segment of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Sydney 2000
This drum has significance in material culture due to its role in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games, an important event in the social history of Sydney and NSW. It has the potential to communicate in exhibitions and publications about the Sydney Olympic Games and has historical significance in its design, making, use and in the cultural meanings ascribed to it.
Described by the NSW premier Bob Carr as 'the greatest spectacle Australia has produced', the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay on Friday 15 September 2000.
The opening ceremony was the subject of much public expectation. After years of controversy and insecurity around issues like Ric Birch's infamous kangaroos on bicycles (from the Atlanta closing ceremony) and the recruitment of American musicians in a proposed marching band for Sydney's opening ceremony, it was perceived as a test of Australia's cultural competence. Could Australia deliver a modern, sophisticated performance or were we to embarrass ourselves?
The overwhelmingly positive public response to the opening ceremony inspired a sense of relief among Sydneysiders. In the upsurge of goodwill and excitement (which began when the torch relay arrived in Sydney) the media dropped its negative attacks on the Games' organisers and embraced the extraordinary spirit that had gripped the city. The public had finally claimed ownership of the Games. Cynicism melted away for two weeks as locals revelled in the rare carnival atmosphere.
The opening ceremony had anthems, speeches, oaths, flags, a marching band, pop singers and a parade of the athletes from 199 competing nations. However the daring conceptual sequences ('Deep Sea Dreaming', 'Awakening', 'Nature', 'Tin Symphony', 'Arrivals' and 'Eternity') will be remembered as the ceremony's great imaginative works. Each segment commenced without interruption, following on from the last to form an overall narrative. The purpose was to project a national image to a worldwide audience, to form the world's vision of Australian culture. This image embraced tolerance, social progress, multiculturalism and reconciliation, as well as nature, history and creativity. Designed to stimulate emotional responses from the audience, these segments delivered a refreshing mixture of youth, naivety and larrikinism.
The creative team comprised 13,000 artists and performers, including designers, choreographers, circus artists, costume makers, set builders and painters, singers, composers, writers, arrangers, dancers, musicians. Even more than the high quality costume design, choreography and music, the props were talking points, with the Endeavour tricycle and the Ned Kelly horse attracting the most attention.
Directed by Lex Marinos, the 'Arrivals' segment looked at Australia's history of migration. A joyful and powerful celebration of multiculturalism, it comprised floats representing five continents with costumed dancers symbolising new arrivals. These represented all the cultures, races, creeds and religions that are now part of the Australian nation. The groups cascaded into the arena in the order Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania - the five regions that are symbolised by the Olympic rings. Huge masks and spectacular costumes were displayed within those groups. The costumes were designed by Jenny Kee (Africa, Americas), Lisa Ho (Asia), Peter Morrissey (Oceania) and Norma Moriceau (Europe). The climax saw the arrivals join together to form a giant human mosaic. Then they dispersed, leaving behind a large crowd of 2000 children, symbolising Australia's hope for a future of tolerance and understanding.
This drum was used by an unknown performer on the 'Africa' float, presumably to represent the music of the African peoples.
Eamon Darcy, Sydney, 1999 Like all other instruments in the 'Arrivals' segment, weight and low cost were a big factor in design. Since they only were visual props, they only needed to look like drums.
Ceremonies prop makers Gustavo Balboa, Charles Gelliespie, Ceremonies workshop, Eveleigh, Redfern, 2000 Polystyrene discs of appropriate diameter and thickness were purchased and edges painted to look like wooden drum sides. Calico was painted to simulate drum skins, with holes was laced over both top and bottom with hemp twine. A length of 'allthread' through the width of the drum fixed the woven grass shoulder strap to the drum.
Sydney 2000 Olympic Games opening ceremony, 'Arrivals' segment, 'Africa' float, Stadium Australia, Sydney Olympic Park, Home Bush, 15 September 2000. The drum was used by a performer accompanying the 'Africa' float in the 'Arrivals' segment.
Made for and owned by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after the Games.