Thursday, 24 September 2009

My Outing

Last night I went to the opening of a photography exhibition at the Public Record Office of Victoria: Strike A Pose .. with Lee Lin Chin. Firstly, I didn't know that the Public Records Office had an exhibition space. Secondly, I got lost trying to find the place because the street directory lied to me and my GPS decided that North Melbourne didn't exist. Once I finally arrived though, I was glad I'd made the effort.

Image from Public Records Office of Victoria Website

The exhibition focuses on Australian fashion in the 1960s and 1970s, with a mixture of professional fashion shots and casual snaps taken of people on the street. I liked that, as it gives you a good idea of the contrast between what fashion was 'meant to be', and what people really did with it. The exhibition space isn't huge, and the photographs were a little crowded on the walls, but at least there was a decent amount of material in the exhibit. One of my favourite photographs was taken at the Sydney Spring Racing Festival, 1967: a Japanese model proudly wearing new-fashioned culottes, knee-high boots and a large floppy hat is surrounded by ladies still wearing Jaqcui Kennedy-style straight skirts and pillbox hats, all looking at her with amazement and disgust. I did notice that the material is a little biased towards Woolmark, who are the exhibition's main sponsor and presumably the main source of the material. Apparently it was de rigeur in the late 1960s to do fashion shoots in the outback - I felt sorry for the models posing in heavy wool coats in the desert. The paper mannequins with quotes from Vivienne Westwood et al in the centre added a nice touch of 3-dimensionality which kept the space from being stale.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see Lee Lin herself (she's just so classy, she's well, a doyenne!), who the flyer assured me would be opening the exhibition. I was either too late or too early, I couldn't quite figure that out. A number of the plaques accompanying the photographs had comments from her on them though, so I almost felt like she was there!

I definitely think it's worth checking out (although I may be a little biased - the free wine and rice paper rolls helped!). I noticed a cafe and some couches in the foyer, so the directionally challenged like me have somewhere to recover before making the trek back to the tram. I snaffled some cool brochures and postcards on the way out. It looks like they have lots of interesting exhibitions, and I'll probably be back - now I know where it is!

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