Australian Fashion and Textile Design
Earl Lu Gallery, LaSalle-SIA College of the Arts
Executive Director Austrade
Thank you Richard (Professor Richard Berry – Vice President, LaSalle-SIA) and good evening everyone.
I have to say that I feel highly unqualified to be in such fashionable company! I’m used to speaking at conferences and exhibitions about things as diverse as oil and gas, mining and energy, food and education, defence and infrastructure, and hosting business conferences and government roundtables, so when it comes to fashion I am definitely out of my depth – a bit of a “scrubber” frankly (an Australian expression) – amongst such a stylish and fashionable gathering.
Nevertheless I am honoured and pleased to be here to kick-off, and celebrate with you, this impressive and important exhibition.
For those who don’t know “UNwrapped: Australian Fashion and Textiles Design” is an exhibition featuring about 90 exquisite fashion and textile works by over 20 contemporary designers from across Australia including:
- Akira Isogawa (arguably one of the leading fashion designers in Australia today);
- Easton Pearson;
- Vixen (Georgia Chapman);
- and many others.
As many of you will already know, this exhibition is part of the Celebrate Australia festival which is an annual festival here in Singapore organised by the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), Tourism Australia and the Australian High Commission.
This year it is taking place for almost the full month of March (3rd–31st March). It aims to showcase the best of Australian creativity and lifestyle through a series of events including wine and food promotions, contemporary design and fashion showcases, visual and performing arts programs, a film festival and a ‘Study in Australia’ education exhibition.
This year, we have a program of five visual arts exhibitions showcasing a wide range of contemporary Australian art, from ‘Flavour 2005’, which is a contemporary art exhibition by 8 young award-winning Australian artists, to ‘Eucalyptus’ which is an exhibition of the paintings of Australian gum trees and forests by artist Julia Roberts. And, of course, Unwrapped, this outstanding exhibition around fashion and textile design.
The curator of “Unwrapped” is textile designer and artist Meredith Rowe in partnership with the Bendigo Art Gallery, and it started touring South East Asia in late 2003 as part of AsiaLink’s Visual Arts Program, and we are very pleased to have the show as one of the highlights of Celebrate Australia this year …. before the UNWRAPPED tour all gets WRAPPED UP again and the works are sent back to Australia.
So Singapore is UNwrapped’s last stop, which in a sense probably makes it a first for Singapore given that Singapore is usually first not last if you get my drift.
A common theme or characteristic of the artists in UNwrapped is that they are artists who have demonstrated both versatility and innovation in their work, blurring the boundaries between design, fashion and contemporary art practice. And just to give you a feel for the ingenuity, innovation, diversity and do-it-yourself attitude of Australia’s design industry that’s being showcased here, UNwrapped features an extraordinary range of production media and materials including:
- wild kangaroo fur
- camel hair;
- emu feathers,
- gum nuts and freshwater snail shells
- hand-printed textiles and clothing
- amazing hand-knitted wool creations and collaborative artwork combining printed Aboriginal designs with hand quilting.
And you know, if you asked what is Australian style today, I doubt any one thing could be said to define it. In fact in a sense it is the dichotomy of a rich and rugged ancient land whose people consider themselves fresh and young and free. So Australian style is the resulting mixture of personal expression. That’s what characterises Australian work, and gives insights into Australia’s contemporary life and sociology.
And when you take in the exhibition you’ll see that the works in UNwrapped express a number of the various elements of Australian identity, culture and geography – from surf culture to Australia’s particular experience of space, the wide open spaces, appreciation of colour and the fusion of indigenous, Asian and European influences. So I hope you will enjoy it.
This exhibition continues through until 24 April 2005 so please spread the word to friends and fans of fashion and design.
Finally it would be remiss of me to conclude without making some important acknowledgements.
Firstly, The Earl Lu Gallery – and especially – Director Eugene Tan and his team: Philip Francis, Shiang Lie, Seet Tze Ching and Ong Puay Khim – thank you for hosting and presenting the exhibition here in Singapore.
AsiaLink – Leanne Fitzgibbon and Sarah Tutton (not here in Singapore) – thank you for curating the show and organising the tour;
Steve Hansen of the River Café – thank you for your contribution to the catering for this event. For those who haven’t been down to the River Café I recommend it – Austrade’s Managing Director and I dined there recently and we were very well looked after, the food was fresh and creative, the atmosphere warm and friendly, and we were very impressed. If you haven’t yet been there I recommend you check it out.
What more is there left for me to say than to declare the exhibition open, wish the organisers every success and to say to all of you …. enjoy !
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