Torch prototype, stand and video, Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games, designed by Katie Molnar, manufactured by Designamite, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1998
In early 1998, SOCOG invited over fifty local design companies to submit proposals for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic torches, and the portable cauldrons that would feature at Torch Relay celebrations. The detailed and exacting brief comprised broad specifications that reflected the enormity of the Torch Relay, and the environmental concerns that underpinned the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Essentially, the selected torch and cauldron would withstand the extreme weather conditions that might arise during the relay, including high winds, torrential rain and hail, varying temperatures, humidity, dust and snow. They would be safe to transport, store, and operate, simple to repair and easy to use. The torch itself would burn for up to thirty minutes while the portable cauldron, with a much larger fuel system, would burn for no less than twelve hours. Moreover, both the torch and cauldron would be ergonomic for the young, elderly and disabled, lightweight, fuel-efficient, and inexpensive to mass-produce. (The combined Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays would require 14,200 torches and 187 community cauldrons.)
A Sydney architect and designer, Katie Molnar, responded to this brief with a torch that encapsulated the spirits of Sydney, Australia and Olympism. The dominant theme of the torch design was an Aboriginal firestick and its nomadic journey from camp to camp. Metaphorically, the Molnar torch would be a modern firestick that would spread peace and light, and would call nations to Sydney. Through this symbolism, it would carry the Spirit of Australia to the world.
The shape of the torch, with a tapered handle and raised wing, resembled the unfurling bark of the Angophora - a relative of the genus, Eucalyptus that is endemic to the Sydney region. The angophora bark was of domestic value to local indigenous people, who twisted it to form flammable heads for firesticks. With a textured water-like surface, the torch also paid tribute to Sydney's coastal environment. Together, the shape and surface of the torch conveyed the Spirit of Sydney.
The Molnar torch, which was replete with symbolism, also referred to the athletic human form. Its robust, streamlined surface embodied power and athletic energy, and its handle and wing resembled a muscular body with arms raised rearward. Through its appearance it embodied the Spirit of Olympism.
Echoing the torch's Indigenous and organic references, the cauldron signified the end of a nomadic journey and the lighting of campfires. Shaped like an open seedpod, it also symbolised the regeneration of the Australian bush after Indigenous fire farming. Molnar likened this regeneration to the cauldron itself, which would "initiate the cycle of life for the new millennium". The video, that was part of the final presentation to the Selection Committee, uses a montage of images and text to describe this symbolism.
Katie Molnar submitted this torch prototype, stand and accompanying video to the SOCOG Torch Selection Committee on 23 February 1998. (Unfortunately, neither the cauldron prototype nor the written submission is included in this collection.) In combination with other tenders, these objects reflect the Australian iconography that inspired local designers before the Games. They also demonstrate the detailed tendering process that preceded the manufacture of the Sydney 2000 torches and cauldrons.
Katie Molnar presented this torch prototype, stand and video to the Sydney 2000 Torch Selection Committee on 23 February 1998. The submission was one of three finalists in the design competition for the Sydney Olympic and Paralympic torches.
Made for and owned by the Olympic Coordination Authority/Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after use in the Games.