Shields (6), theatrical props, plywood, designed by Jenny Kee, made by Gustavo Balboa and Jamie Gill at the Ceremonies workshop used in the 'Arrivals' segment, Opening Ceremony for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games , Sydney, 2000
Designed in the Blue Mountains by Jenny Kee, this series of plywood shields featured in 'Arrivals' - a theatrical segment in the Opening Ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games. Along with other African- inspired props and costumes, they represented the African cultures that arrived in Australia through migration. Prop makers, Gustavo Balboa and Jamie Gill, made the shields in 2000 at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh, painting the surfaces with authentic African motifs. The black details on these and other props make direct reference to the black Olympic ring - a symbol of the African continent. Dressed in black and white costumes, African women danced onto the arena with the shields in hand.
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. Though the ceremony featured anthems, speeches, oaths, flags, pop singers and a marching band, its daring conceptual sequences ('Deep Sea Dreaming', 'Awakening', 'Nature', 'Tin Symphony', 'Arrivals' and 'Eternity') will be remembered as the major 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.
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 and 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.
Jenny Kee designed these and all other 'Africas' props in the Blue Mountains in 2000. She sourced the motifs from books on African art and from members of the African-Australian community.
Made: Gustavo Balboa made the plywood shields in 2000 at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh. Scenic painter, Jamie Gill, applied the African motifs. Gustavo Balboa made the plywood shields in 2000 at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh. Scenic painter, Jamie Gill, applied the African motifs.
These props were carried by performers on the 'Africas' float - part of the 'Arrivals' segment in the Opening Ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games. The ceremony was held at Stadium Australia, Sydney Olympic Park, on 15 September 2000.
Made for and owned by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after the Games.