Performance costume, titled Fire Breather , fabric/leather/metal, designed by Paula Ryan and Michael Wilkinson, used in the Fire segment of the Opening Ceremony of Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000
This is a 'Fire Breather female' costume that consists of a black leather bodice, a pair of black denim jeans, a pair of brown leather Blundstone boots, and a metal and leather belt. It was used in the Fire segment of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony and was worn by one of approximately 200 performers who .performed fire breathing. The costume was designed by Michael Wilkinson and Paula Ryan and was assembled from purchased components by the Ceremonies Costume Workshop in Redfern, NSW.
The Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games comprised three major sections: mandatory formalities and protocol sections, the cultural display and the entrance of the athletes. The spirits of the Awakenening are driven away by the searing plumes of fire. But behind the fire-breathers, small charred clumps of vegetation remain. Australia has a long, hot, dry summer with winds gusting to forty knots. Many Aboriginal legends and creation stories relate to fire and how it was obtained and Aboriginal people also practice fire-stick farming - burning small areas of land to make travel and hunting easier. Soon tender shoots of grass would sprout, attracting kangaroo and wallaby. Flames cleared the undergrowth and encouraged plants which needed fire in their life cycle. Sydney 200 Olympic Opening Ceremony Programme
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.
Paula Ryan was Costume Supervisor for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. She has worked as a Costume Supervisor on numerous Australian feature films including Babe and Bootmen.
The concept for the Fire segment costume and makeup designs incorporated modern black leather rock'n'roll styles of dress with make up design reminiscent of flames. Practical elements of the design incorporate the necessity for the costume to be fire resistant; for this reason leather rather than fabric was used in the upper half of the costume. Most of the men performed bare chested.
Maker name Coordinated by the Ceremonies Costume Workshop
Worn by one of approximately 200 performers who .performed fire breathing in the segment.
Presented to the Powerhouse Museum by the Olympic Coordination Authority, on behalf of the NSW Government