Performance costume, 'Cockatoo', fabric/aluminium/metal/feather, designed by Karin Thorn, made by Ceremonies Costume Workshop, used in the Closing Ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Atlanta 1996
The 'Cockatoo' costume was designed by Karen Thorn with Peter Cooke, Peter England, Justin Kurzel and Gordon Burns. The costume featured in the Flag Handover segment of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Closing Ceremony. The costume features a body harness, into which a pair of light weight wings could be inserted. The 'feathers' on the costume are made from hand-painted fabric. It was worn by a girl from the NSW Performing Arts Unit.
The Flag Handover Ceremony introduced the world to the next Olympic host: Sydney, Australia. There was a formal and an informal part of the Flag Handover Ceremony. The formal section saw the Flag literally 'handed over' to the Mayor of Sydney Frank Sartor. The informal or cultural display introduced the world to a number of the known (and some of the lesser known) Australian cultural icons.
Australia's seven minute cultural display began with the sound of a solo didgeridoo being played on a central raised ochre platform in the centre of the stadium. It's sound called to life a number of indigenous dancers who performed the 'kangaroo' dance. At the same time, groups of boys on BMX bikes with inflatable kangaroos on their backs entered the stadium. Female indigenous dancers bring to life the brightly painted flower girls who shed their virginal white silk robes to reveal there colourful dresses as they dance around giant inflatable waratahs. Hundreds of 'lifesavers' in glittering lurex swimsuits and caps and carrying glittering flags representing the waves and the Australian sea side weave though the picture. Finally giant white tubes are released to form a likeness of the Sydney Opera House as fireworks decorate the sky.
The Australian public displayed a very mixed response to the symbols and cultural icons on offer to the world in the Flag Handover Ceremony. It opened a stimulating and sometimes intense debate about the way in which Australians thought Australia and Australians should be portrayed on a world stage.
The reaction to Birch's Opening Ceremony just four years later was much more positive, even though it may be said to have contained the same mix of irreverence, wit and cultural sensitivity.
In late 1994 Ric Birch sent out an invitation to the world's designers to come up with a seven minute 'show' which would communicate to the world that the next Olympics would be held in Sydney, Australia.
Although many groups both in Australia and from the world sent in ideas, Birch chose a group of NIDA design students and staff to carry through their initial ideas. He teamed the NIDA staff and students with director and choreographer Stephen Page and a team of experts in the field of inflatable costumes and props. The core design group spent the next 6 months developing and refining their ideas for the ceremony.
Worn by a professional dancer.
Presented to the Powerhouse Museum by the Olympic Coordination Authority, on behalf of the NSW Government