Performance costume, 'Stone Goddess', fabric/polystyrene/fibreglass, designed by Jenny Kee used in Opening Ceremony of Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000
This costume titled Stone Goddess was worn in the Arrivals segment of the Olympic Opening Ceremony held on September 15, 2000. The costume was part of the Africa float and was designed by Jenny Kee. It is based on 18th Dynasty Armana period sculpture and typical garments of the Goddess Isis.
The Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games was comprised of three major sections: the mandatory formalities and protocol sections, the cultural display and the entrance of the athletes. Within the cultural display, there were eight segments titled: Welcome, Deep Sea Dreaming, Awakening, Fire, Nature, Tin Symphony, Arrivals and Eternity.
This costume was used in the Arrivals segment of the Opening Ceremony. This segment aimed to produce a theatrical representation of Australia's multiculturalism. The programme for the Olympic Opening Ceremony states: The history of Australia is the history of migration. We have come from all corners of the planet to form a vibrant, culturally rich and constantly evolving society. In this segment, a new group of arrivals form the Olympic symbol that unites the five continents of the world. They disperse, leaving behind their children - our hope for the future. More children appear until two thousand gather to form the pattern of the night sky, containing the distinctive Southern Cross constellation. From the centre of the structure Nikki Webster performs "Under Southern Skies' to celebrate the unity of all our people.
There were five floats in the Arrivals segment. Each float represented a continent of the world. Using the symbolism of the colours of Olympic rings, each continent/float was represented by a colour. Black was used to represent the African nations, yellow the Asian nations, red the Americas, green was used for Europe and blue for Oceania. (Australia was part of the Oceania float).
Fashion and film designers rather than theatrical designers were chosen to provide a contemporary, cutting edge, high fashion look to the costumes. The designers were Jenny Kee - Africa and Americas, Lisa Ho - Asia, Norma Moriceau - Europe and Peter Morrissey - Oceania.
Performers were selected from schools, community groups and from cultural and ethnic support groups. Approximately 500 performers danced around and on each of the five floats in the costumes created by the designers.
The Stone Goddess costume is constructed from printed and pleated nylon organza. The "body mask" which covers the torso and the helmet are made from fibreglass. The helmet echoes the shape of an ancient Egyptian headdress.
The dress and helmet were constructed at the Ceremonies Costume Workshop under the artistic direction of Paula Martin. The body mask was constructed by Paula Martin and Greg Somerville.
The costume was worn in the ceremony by Cheryl Lynn Peters.
Jenny Kee (born Sydney 1947) is one of Australia's most significant and creative clothing and textile designers. Kee is best known for designing and retailing a unique range of colourful clothing and knitwear. Her work is characterised by the graphic and dynamic nature of her design style, as well as her ability interpret cultural icons in a highly original way. For this project Kee's vision was "Homage to the Spirit of Africa. Bestowing peace, love and unity upon the world for Mother Earth". She collaborated with Creative Consultant Jan Thornley and Costume Artist Paula Martin and team.
Kee and her collaborators applied a rigorous research and design development process to realise the costumes for the Africa float. The works drew their inspiration from many regions and aspects of African culture and history.
Various textile designs were developed by Kee, using black as a palette base, contrasted with cream, terracotta, ochre and metallic touches. Kee states that " My work starts with the graphic expression of ideas. I adapted universal African emblems - a series of drawings revealing unifying threads, building layers of meaning through my fabrics and costumes. I want to celebrate the richness and sophistication of this vibrant continent."
The design for the Stone Goddess costume was inspired by Ancient Egypt. The costume is based on 18th Dynasty Armana period sculpture (probably Queen Nefertiti) and typical garments of the Goddess Isis. The stylised body-mask and pleated gown, glorify the female form. A gold painted Crown of the Pharoahs completes the costume.
The Stone Goddess costume incorporates the two textile designs that were developed by Kee to be used in the costumes for the Africa section. The strong 'Archetype' and 'Symbols' prints were both used in this costume. Both prints were inspired by African symbols and traditional tribal graphics.
Maker name Paula Martin and Greg Somerville, Bettine Roynan and the Ceremonies Costume Workshop.