Performance costume, 'Road Sign Holder', fabric, designed by Michael Wilkinson, made by Michael Gates (aka Maude Boate) used in Closing Ceremony of Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000
The Road Sign Holder costume was designed by Michael Wilkinson and the frame manufactured by costume artist Michael Gates (aka Maude Boate). The costume features an aluminium frame back pack into which slot several large pleated gold lame 'wings'. The costume featured in the Icons segment of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony.
The closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place on Sunday 1 October at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay. It included solemn formalities, an informal parade of athletes and a farewell party that took the form of an unregimented parade with floats that celebrated and often mocked aspects of Australian popular culture. The intention was to conduct the ceremony with decorum until the extinction of the Olympic flame, and then to unleash a party. The artistic director of the closing ceremony David Atkins explained 'The athletes have finished competition, and are ready to party, and we have set about creating a party to end all parties. We have decided to invite everyone into our giant Australian backyard - fully equipped with Hills Hoists, barbecues, an eclectic mix of music, performers and all manner of Australiana. Australians have a tradition of throwing great parties, and this one will be imbued with a sense of fun, larrikinism and goodwill.' According to Ric Birch (speaking on Channel 7's 'Olympic Sunrise'), the opening ceremony was to represent Australia at large, but the closing ceremony was Sydney's show.
After Vanessa Amorosi's performance of 'Absolutely Everybody', the arena was transformed into a huge dance- floor as 960 ballroom dancing couples in fluorescent costumes danced the samba, tango and jive to the beat of John Paul Young singing 'Love is in the Air'. Although there was no direct allusion to the film 'Strictly Ballroom', the link was implied. The dancers were accompanied by 208 giant dancing feet and the incongruous assembly of oversized kewpie dolls while in mid-field the athletes formed a huge conga line.
As the ceremony unfolded the proliferation of suburban images such as Hills Hoists, blowflies, lifesavers and thongs was treated with self-deprecating irony rather than clichÂ?. The wit and quality of the 'Parade of Icons' showed the influence of the late Peter Tully artistic director of the Mardi Gras. For example, the 'pit chicks' in silver hot pants who carried large eyelash props, the stiletto shoe bikes and giant mascara for the Priscilla bus.
The opening ceremony told a mythic story of nation-building that dwarfed individuals. It was evocative and subtle. The closing ceremony, however, celebrated personality, celebrity and attitude. Loud and brash, more like a rock concert than a profoundly theatrical event, it was an extravagant send-off -- fun, festive, shamelessly excessive and, for an international audience, decidedly weird.
Michael Wilkinson studied architecture at University of Sydney before completing the NIDA design course in 1993. Since graduating, Michael has worked as a designer right across the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
His film credits include costume designer for the feature films Party Monster, American Splendor, Large,s Ark, In Gods Hands, Just Another Story, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Looking For Alibrandi, When Strangers Appear and True Love and Chaos.
He was also design assistant on the feature films The Matrix, Far From Heaven and Moulin Rouge.
His theatre work includes award-winning costume designs for the Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia, the Australian Dance Theatre, Belvoir St Theatre, the Bell Shakespeare Company, Steel City (at Radio City Hall) and the Ensemble Theatre
Michael also works as a stylist, with clients including Danny Glover, Kirstie Ally, Elle McPherson and Kylie Minogue.
In 1999 Wilkinson was awarded the Mike Walsh Fellowship and used this to further his international career in the USA and Europe. As of 2002 he is based in New York.