2001/84/143 Performance costume, titled "Symbol Goddess", raffia/fabric, designed by Jenny Kee, used in Opening Ceremony of Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
This rich and skilfully hand-worked costume called Symbol Goddess is from the Arrivals segment of the Olympic Opening Ceremony held on September 15, 2000. The costume was part of the Africa float and is designed by Jenny Kee. It incorporates elaborate multi-layers of rich, earthy textile dimensions, imitating Bamileke costume of Cameroon. A variety of textile treatments including beading, embroidery, braiding, appliqu and printing were used on this costume.
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 'Symbol Goddess' is comprised of a double layered skirt and wristlets and leggings in ochre and terracotta printed cheesecloth. These are worn underneath a large square tabard. A large padded bum-pad gives fullness to the back of the skirt. Over the skirt is a large square cape with a richly embroidered central tabard.
The base of the cape is reverse appliqud in hessian with decorative signs and symbols on a cream base. A raffia fringe borders the front and back hem of the cape.
The centre front tabard features enlarged graphics from the 'Symbols' textile print, referencing the cut-pile raphia technique of Bakuba, Zaire.
The exaggerated moving bustle creates interest in the back view.
An elaborate headdress, the design of which is echoed in the neck of the cape, incorporates more embroidery and stitching details. An inverted cone shape out of which 'grows' a blackened vine, completes the headdress.
The costume was made by Paula Martin and Greg Somerville in their workshop in Lawson, NSW. It was worn in the Opening Ceremony by Abbas Abde Mohammad.