Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Short Break

I have just had a short holiday in our nation's capital, Canberra. It was the first time I had been in Canberra on Australia Day, January 26th.
The photo above is of the Captain Cook fountain in Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. The National Library is in the background.

The highlight of my visit was a day at the National Gallery of Australia. The current major exhibition includes a collection of about 150 costumes and accessories from 34 productions from 1909 to 1939 of the Ballet Russes. There are also photographs of original performances, original programs and sets.

Many of the costumes were purchased by the Gallery in the 1970s and have been beautifully restored. It was interesting to see the kinds of fabrics used and the sewing techniques. One unrestored costume showed a chiffon shirt with a hand sewn hem. Also visible was a hand stitched repair to a tear in the skirt.
Many of the embellishments were painted on. One was a leotard and tights combination painted with Barium paint! Where applique was used on costumes it was machine stitched down with a raw edge showing. One set of cotton dresses were embellished with shiny, metallic looking squares make from bakelite. Few of the costumes were simple, most were highly decorated.
Many of the costumes were made of wool and looked very heavy. Quite difficult to dance in, I imagine. Silk, cotton, velvet and rayon were used in the majority of costumes.
There was a great variation in the sizes of the costumes. Some of the dresses were quite tiny, as you would imagine for ballerinas of today. However, some were much larger.

The costume below on the right was designed by Leon Blakst and worn by Vaslav Nijinski in Le Dieu Bleu (The Blue God). This ballet premiered in 1912.

The dress on the left was made of pale pink silk and was worn in Les Presages in 1933.

While at the gallery I looked at some of the other collections. I saw Blue Poles, by Jackson Pollock. It is arguably the most famous painting in Australia. The purchase of this painting was very controversial. In 1973 the government paid the highest price ever ( A$1.3 million) for an American painting. The purchase of this painting marked the beginning of the era of Australia's movement away from the British Empire.

While I was away I did a little stitching. No photos yet.
My next post will be back to quilting.


  1. Very interesting post Miriam - thank you for sharing. Its good to hear from you again :)

  2. sounds like a fun holiday.
    I love costume exhibits - this one looks like it was great.

  3. I've been thinking about you...glad you had a good time. I enjoyed learning about the costumes, interesting.

    I'm not a big Jackson Pollock fan, but I guess that painting is kind of cool.

  4. What a wonderful exhibit to see. The costumes must have been amazing.


  5. HI Miriam, Glad you had a great time in Canberra, there is always something to see there. I had heard that the costume exhibition was very good and it sounds like you really enjoyed ir.

  6. Welcome home Miriam, sounds like a very interesting trip.
    Ballet sure has changed over the years, hasn't it?

  7. Glad to hear you had a wonderful break and saw some interesting things. I have not been to Canberra for years. I love that costume on the right, wow. xo

  8. It looks like you had a wonderful trip. Thanks for all the info -- it was fun to read a bit about your country!

  9. What a great holiday! I'm sure you'll be back at it with recharged batteries.

  10. Bet you had a wonderful time looking at all those gorgeous costumes!! Enjoy!! thanks for the photos! Take care, Daniëlle XXXD