Model tank cycle, Opening Ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games, designed by Dan Potra, Australia, 1999
This design model represents the 'Tank Cycle' that appeared in 'Tin Symphony', a theatrical segment in the Opening Ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games. Designed by Dan Potra, the custom-built tricycle supported a corrugated steel watertank, a driver's seat and a special peddling device on its right side. Crossing the arena, it reiterated the segment's abstract, industrial theme. Both the model and the full-scale structure were made at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh.
Potra's concepts drew upon the imaginative artwork of Heath Robinson (1872-1944), an English illustrator who devised many whimsical and impractical inventions. (Copies of Robinson's work also feature in the Sydney 2000 Games Collection.) This sense of whimsy pervades Potra's prop designs as well as the greater, Tin Symphony theme. Along with this model, the full-scale prop was manufactured at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh.
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.
The complex and inventive 'Tin Symphony' segment, directed by Nigel Jamieson, involved 850 performers. It examined the impact of Europeans' arrival on the land after 60,000 years of Aboriginal habitation. 'Tin Symphony' began with the arrival on the spectacular Endeavour cycle carrying a gently parodied Captain Cook and his crew (accompanied by a caged rabbit). It consisted of three linked tricycles, propelled by conventional bicycle pedals, with a total length of 11 metres and a height of 3 metres. The explorers carried telescopes and sketchbooks, looking in wonder at the unfamiliar flora and fauna.
As 'Tin Symphony' unfolded, the colonists brought new technologies and materials, symbolised by corrugated iron, metal windmills and steel farming machinery. Even Ned Kelly encased himself in metal, continuing the theme of mechanisation. The segment cleverly linked icons of colonial and rural Australia, such as Captain Cook, resourceful pioneers, Ned Kelly, Irish girls, a sheep-making machine, corrugated iron windmills, derricks, water tanks and farm machinery, with modern images of suburbia, lawn mowers and the beach. The segment had an implicit theme of the settlers' humour and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. It ended with the descendents of the settlers, the modern Australians, who has tamed and transformed the land, symbolised by the lawnmower ballet, a kind of serenade to suburbia, its backyards and barbecues.
Dan Potra designed the Tank Cycle in late 1999 to complement the industrial theme of Tin Symphony. His concept drew upon the imaginative artwork of Heath Robinson (1872-1944), an English illustrator who devised many whimsical and impractical inventions.
In late 1999, a small team of model makers produced this miniature design model of the Tank Cycle. Both the model and the full-scale prop were manufactured at the expansive Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh.
Made for and owned by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games in late 1999, and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after the Games.
This design model was used as a miniature prototype for the Tank Cycle, a prop that combined a tricycle and a water tank. The full- scale prop featured in Tin Symphony - a segment of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.