Performance prop, flower, 'Swamp daisy', metal/ fabric/ fibreglass/ feathers/ plastic, designed by Eamon D'Arcy, made by Penny Gutteridge, Katrina Carter, Tamara Ealey, Kristina Sundstrom, Patrick Walsh, David McRea and Kevin Blythe - Ceremonies Workshop, used in the 'nature' segment Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Sydney 2000
This large swamp daisy 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.
The swamp daisy appeared in the 'Nature' segment, which followed the 'Deep Sea Dreaming', 'Awakening' and 'Fire' segments. After 'Fire', the process of regeneration of the charred earth after rain was the basis of the colourful 'Nature' segment, directed by Peter Wilson. Fresh green shoots appeared, plants began to bloom, leaves grew along the branches of the eucalypt trees, as desert, bush and rivers came alive to the laugh of the kookaburra and the screeching of parrots. Dominant among the budding, swelling, ultimately blooming flowers were red waratahs, red and black Sturt's Desert peas, pink waterlilies and yellow banksias. Following them came pink and purple honey-myrtles, blue wildflowers and the magnificent swamp daisies. As the lakes and waterholes of the inland filled, flocks of birds arrived to breed, and then Australia's unique animals came to visit.
Through creative choreography and puppetry, and sequence after sequence of fresh new images, and a continuing fusion of colour, the stadium took on the look of a beautiful living garden. Through this great flowering landscape walked the Songman Djakapurra, stopping at a giant waratah to collect the Hero Girl, who was still dreaming. The segment ended with the arrival of European settlers heralding the 'Tin Symphony'.
Eamon Darcy, Sydney 1999
Ceremonies prop makers Penny Gutteridge, Katrina Carter, Tamara Ealey, Kristina Sundstrom, construction team members Patrick Walsh, lighting technicians David McRea and Kevin Blythe. Made at the Ceremonies workshop, Eveleigh, Redfern, 1999-2000. A jig was used to replicate the triangular frames of welded 6mm steel rod. The top pointed section of the frames then covered with small mesh wire to fix a multitude of fabric cones. The sides and wide section of the top were covered with fabric. The outer edge of the segments were extended with 4mm fibreglass rods for incidental movement, covered with white feathers and white tulle. Plastic leaf shapes covered in pink tulle were laid over the white tulle in a radial fashion and fixed with plastic tags. The underside was covered with fabric, leaving access to handles. A reflective sheet was fixed under the pointed, cone-covered section with internal lights. A connection wire was then plugged into a battery belt worn by performers around their waists.