African drum, theatrical prop, polystyrene/painted calico/hemp, designed by Eamon D'Arcy, made by Gustavo Balboa and Charles Gillespie at the Ceremonies workshop, used in the 'Arrivals' segment of the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000 Opening Ceremony, Sydney 2000
Designed by Eamon D'Arcy, this replica of an African, animal-skin drum featured in 'Arrivals' - a theatrical segment in the Opening Ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games. Along with other African- inspired props and costumes, it signified the African traditions that arrived in Australia through migration. Prop makers, Gustavo Balboa and Charles Gillespie, made the drum in 2000 at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh, painting the surface with an animal skin pattern. The black details on this and other African props make direct reference to the black Olympic ring - a symbol of the African continent. Dressed in black and white costumes, African men danced onto the arena pretending to beat the drums.
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.
In 1999, Eamon D'Arcy designed this replica of an African, animal- skin drum. Like all instruments in 'Arrivals', this example was designed to be lightweight and inexpensive to build.
Prop makers, Gustavo Balboa and Charles Gillespie, made the drum in 2000 at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh. Painted polystyrene simulated the wooden drum while painted calico represented the animal skins. Hemp twine laced the calico over the polystyrene, and a length of 'allthread' passed through the drum, attaching the shoulder strap of woven grass.
This prop was 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.