Performance costume, Torres Strait Island - male, raffia/fabric, designed by Jennifer Irwin, made by Ceremonies Costume Workshop and by performers from Saibai and Boigu Torres Strait , used in Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000
The Torres Strait Island - Male costume was designed by Jennifer Irwin. It features a brown raffia skirt, leggings, armbands and headband. The costume was worn in the Awakenings segment of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony by a performer from either Saibai or Boigu Island in the Torres Strait. Parts were manufactured in the Ceremonies Costume Workshop and parts were made in the Torres Strait Islands..
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 Opening Ceremony Context
Within the cultural display there were eight sections: Welcome, Deep Sea Dreaming, Awakening, Fire, Nature, Tin Symphony, Arrivals and Eternity. The Awakenings segment followed the Deep Sea Dreaming segment and pays homage to the indigenous peoples of Australia. The segment was directed by Stephen Page and Rhoda Roberts and featured dancers from various indigenous groups throughout Australia, including dancers from the Eora nation. The Opening Ceremony Program states: Djakapurra Munyarryun, the songman, calls the new generation of spirits. The white ochre spirits are drawn to the heartbeat of the land by the Central Desert women. Their 'Chant of the Seven Sisters Dance' births the s\ceremony. As ochre fills the air, dancers from Arnhem land perform the 'Flag Welcome Song', which welcomed the Macassan traders at least four centuries ago. Torres Strait islanders arrive: the Eora nation group welcomes and plays host. All gather around drums of burning eucalyptus leaves, rekindling and cleansing this stadium on Daruk land. The Gjorn Gjorn, huge spirits from the Kimberly Ranges, hover. As the clans unite, they birth the giant Wandjina - ancestral creation spirit and lawmaker.
The Awakenings segment was a collaboration involving the culture, music, dance and traditional costumes of indigenous peoples throughout Australia. The design of the costumes embraced both traditional dress and modern dance costume.
Jennifer Irwin (born Sydney 1958) has designed costumes for numerous Australian dance and theatre productions. Her designs for dance have been seen on stage in 24 countries. She has designed costumes for over 25 works by the Sydney Dance Company and has worked extensively with director and choreographer Stephen Page on his productions for the Bangarra Dance Theatre and for the Australian Ballet. Also with Stephen Page, Irwin designed costumes for the Opening Ceremony for the Festival of the Dreaming (1998) and for Tubowgule - the Opening Ceremony for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival. Irwin also designed the costumes for the Official Ceremony for the Centenary of Federation on 1 January 2001.
Jennifer Irwin's many costume design commissions for dramatic works include collaborations with directors Gale Edwards and Marion Potts for the Sydney Theatre Company and with Neil Armfield for Company B at the Belvoir St Theatre.
Irwin was awarded a Theatre Board (Australia Council) grant to study scenic design at La Scala Opera in Milan, Italy.
Her designs for the Closing Ceremony demonstrate her unique talent of infusing contemporary, cutting edge design with a sensitivity and understanding of dance, movement and cultural significance.
The costume is a modern adaptation of traditional dress of the Torres Strait Islands. The cassowary headdress and armbands are from the top western islands (Saibai and Boigu). This headdress represents 'before time when these islands used to go head hunting to Papua New Guineau'
An alterative headdress which is not in the collection was made to be worn by the males of the eastern islands (Dari) and the western islands (Dhoeri).
The 'Muk Muk' are decorations worn on the upper arm, below the knee and around the ankle. The Muk Muk are worn by males and females. Six Muk Muk per performer were worn in the Opening Ceremony. The 'Zazi' is a raffia skirt that is worn by males and females. The Zazi and Muk Muk would traditionally have been a natural colour but were dyed blue for the Opening Ceremony. The colour brown of the zazi and muk muk is of no cultural significance.
Maker name Traditional cassowary headdress, armbands and decoration from the top western islands of the Torres Strait (Saibai and Boigu) Missing headdress made by Pinau Ghee The zazi and muk muks were made by the Ceremonies Costume Workshop.
Worn by performers from Saibi or Boigu in the Torres Strait
Presented to the Powerhouse Museum by the Olympic Coordination Authority, on behalf of the NSW Government