Skulls Mirror Brooch


Australian fashion: the contemporary art

an exhibition curated by Jane de Teliga for the Powerhouse, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in 1989.

This large exhibition brought together the work of over 50 Australian designers loosely collected here under the banner of fashion. Or more specifically, 'innovative contemporary fashion ... where art, craft and design intermingle' 1

The brief sent out to designers from the curator (commissioner?) was that the works should be 'Australian' in flavour. The exhibition would travel to the UK (and, as it turned out later, also to Japan and Korea) where it would show Australian talent in bold and colourful array.

So the designers were left to ponder what was 'Australian', did it exist in their work, or should some self conscious attempt be made to call it forth?

The show was a hit! A blockbuster of luminous colour, youthful passion, irreverent wit and the now recognisable 80's imperative for impact! Vogue Australia celebrated their thirtieth anniversary by wrapping the exhibition's catalogue together with their birthday issue. But also, perhaps for the last time, that old chorus of echidna, gum leaf and coral fishies would wearily tread the boards - the best works in this show acknowledged the reality that most of Australia's inhabitants are urban dwellers and like the rest of the world's populace their concerns are universal in theme.

Looking through the catalogue now, nearly a decade later - the heroes for me are jewellery guru Peter Tully with his New Age business suit, made from a patchwork of holograms and Bruce Slorach and Sara Thorn, whose clothing label abyss with its characteristic political chutzpah, has become a true collectors item.

Monty Coles photographed this contribution of mine, the photograph became an icon of the show.......the strong hand holds a mirror up to vast blue sky, the barren horizon could be that of any unnamed planet. The image was one that proclaimed the show on posters from UK to Japan, Korea and back to Australia. Barbara Heath

1 Jane de Teliga. Australian Fashion: the contemporary art

Vast blue sky, the barren horizon could be that of any unnamed planet. The image was one that proclaimed the show on posters seen from the UK to Japan, Korea and back to Australia.2

2 Interestingly the Korean version of the poster 'corrupted' the skulls into smooth round bosses.

Barbara Heath


please email for more info

1997-2001 Barbara Heath