Kylie On Stage Tour

Ever wondered what it takes to send an exhibition on tour? In this behind-the-scenes post, you can get a glimpse of staff from the Performing Arts Collection busily preparing Kylie On Stage for tour.

Gold boots and stiletto heels worn by Kylie Minogue in the On A Night Like This tour packed into their travelling box with custom inserts to prevent movement and damage while travelling.

The Kylie On Stage exhibition wrapped up in January and is now being meticulously prepped and packed for a regional tour to the Mildura Arts Centre, Geelong Gallery, Ararat Regional Art Gallery and La Trobe Regional Gallery in 2017 and 2018. The exhibition allowed visitors to explore the creative processes behind the costumes and production of Kylie Minogue’s concert tours, but for the objects themselves, the show doesn’t end when the exhibition lights go dark. Instead, a team of registrars, curators, conservators and other museum professionals go to work preparing each object for travel to the next exhibition venue.

This lengthy process involves careful photography and documentation to record the condition of each object, creation of handmade supports, and fitting out or building customised boxes to fit complex objects such as headdresses. Exhibition objects risk damage ranging from packing materials and handling through to vibration caused by transport vehicles, so each one is carefully packed with conservation grade materials and dedicated supports to provide the best possible protection. The intricacy of the craftsmanship on many of the Kylie On Stage costumes has inspired clever solutions to protect delicate beading, diamantés and fabrics. Photos of the packing process are then used to guide installation and prevent handling-related damage during unpacking at the next venue.

Fitting custom supports in a box tray to support a headdress.

While all objects are treated with the utmost care, sometimes you can’t avoid having a particular favourite. Some of the team’s favourite items from the packing process include a pair of yellow Dolce & Gabbana stilettos worn in the encore of Kylie’s 2002 KylieFever tour, a kimono-style mini dress worn in Act Five of the X2008 tour, and two pairs of gold shoes worn in the On A Night Like This tour (2000/2001). Shoes and accessories are not always very visible in performance, so being able to see the detail and craftsmanship of smaller items in the collection up close is a particular privilege.

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A standard box which has been fitted out with customised foam and Tyvek supports for a pair of shoes worn by Kylie Minogue in the encore of her 2002 Fever Tour.

Visitors can look forward to getting their own close-up view of these and all the other objects featured in Kylie On Stage when it arrives in Mildura this August. To learn more about the exhibition and regional tour, visit Kylie On Stage or explore the Kylie Minogue Collection online through the Arts Centre Melbourne website.

Left: The textile conservator fits a padded Tyvek belt around the Jean Paul Gaultier bodysuit worn in Act Six of the Kiss Me Once 2015 tour.
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The bodysuit also has a fitted internal support to preserve its shape and prevent crushing of structural decorative elements.
PAC curatorial and collection management staff pack the silver crystal-mesh costume worn by Kylie during Act One of the KylieFever tour in 2002.

Vale Frederick Parslow 1932-2017


Frederick Parslow in Hotel in Amsterdam, Melbourne Theatre Company, 1969. Photograph by Bruce Postle. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.

This week the Melbourne theatre community farewelled stage legend Frederick Parslow from the stage of the Union Theatre, University of Melbourne. Fellow actors Anne Phelan, Don Bridges, Gary Down (and the ghost of Frank Thring channelled by Michael Carman) remembered him for his wit and elegance, his immense theatrical range and for his wicked sense of humour both on and off stage.

Parslow made his acting debut in Peter O’Shaughnessy’s Hamlet in 1954. Talent-spotted by Union Theatre Repertory Company (UTRC) director John Sumner he joined the touring production of Twelfth Night alongside cast members Barry Humphries, Zoe Caldwell, Ray Lawler and Malcolm Robertson in 1955. In a career spanning almost 30 years and 300 roles Parslow became the quintessential leading man moving effortlessly between tragedy and comedy.

From left: Frank Thring, Googie Withers and Frederick Parslow, The Cherry Orchard, J.C. Williamson Ltd, 1974. Photograph by Newton & Talbot. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.

His performance as Richard II in the 1963 UTRC production of the same name set a new benchmark for the industry and throughout the 1970s and 1980s he gave memorable performances in productions including The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1970), The Revenger’s Tragedy (1975), Einstein (1981), On Our Selection (1982) and A Fortunate Life (1984).

A theatre actor at heart, Parslow appeared in the films Alvin Purple (1973) and The Last Wave (1977) and on television as the Friday Night host of In Melbourne Tonight.

Frederick Parslow, Mark Twain Down Under, Playbox Theatre, 1988. Photograph by Luzio Grossi. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.

Frederick Parslow was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the performing arts in 1987. He is survived by his son Justin Harris Parslow, his wife, actor, teacher, mentor Joan Harris Parslow having predeceased him in September last year.


Perfect Portraits

One of the treasures in the Performing Arts Collection is a album containing 160 carte de visite photographs of Australian performers from the 1860s and 1870s. A carte de visite is a small photograph, usually a portrait, presented on a piece of card 6.5 cm x 10cm. The size of carte de visites made them an economical and extremely popular format as they could be easily shared and mailed to friends and family.

The beautiful photograph above is of one of the Wiseman sisters, most likely Fanny Wiseman (1846-1933), an actress who performed on the Australian stage for over four decades in pantomime and melodrama. Her theatrical family included sisters Emily (1844-1881), Alice (1850-1940) and Laura (1857-1943).

Laura Wiseman 1992.079.001-136. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.
Emily Wiseman 1992.079.001-133. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.

These photographs show an exquisite level of detail, capturing the intricate costume decorations and elaborate hairstyles of the actresses. Their photographer achieved such perfection by using a headrest; a metal frame that prevented the sitter from moving and blurring the photograph. The base of the headrest has been carefully hidden beneath draped fabric, but is visible in Fanny and Laura’s portraits.

Not all photographers during the period used headrests. This lively photograph of Benhamo and Zebrediah of Burton’s Circus (1877) gives some idea of the extraordinary balance and strength of circus performers who could remain still during the long exposure time.

Brothers Benhamo (William Benham) and Zebrediah (Zebediah Benham), 1877. 1992.079.001-190 Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.

Another striking portrait from the album is of Lena Carey, dressed in costume for the production “Pygmalion and Galatea”. Carey appeared as ‘Galatea’, a statue come to life, in the very successful 1873 production with George Coppin (1819-1906) and Hattie Shepparde (1848?-1874). The State Library of Victoria have two portraits of Hattie Shepparde in the role of ‘Cynisca’. When Shepparde died the following year in childbirth, Lena Carey was among the famous actresses to be pallbearers at her funeral.

Lena Carey, c.1873. 1992.079.001-29. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.
Hattie Shepherd, 1873, by Charles Hewitt. State Library of Victoria, H9476.

Can you help?

There are a number of unidentified photographs in the album. If you know the names of any of the performers below we’d love to hear from you. As a hint, the handwritten notes around the edges of the photographs are mostly misleading. Please post any suggestions in the comments field below or contact us via our Research Centre.

1992.079.001-128. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.
1992.079.001-191. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.
1992.079.001-195. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.
1992.079.001-196. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.
1992.079.001-128. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.

Christmas in the Collection

Merry Christmas everyone. We hope that just like the young fellow pictured with Father Christmas at the Shell Club party (December 1960), you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

2016 was a big year for the Performing Arts Collection. There were 6 exhibitions, dozens of displays, a design forum, hundreds of research enquiries, 35000 catalogue records created and updated, and the Australian Music Vault was launched.

To celebrate this great year, we’ve assembled a special ‘more-is-more’ collection of Christmas in the Performing Arts Collection. Please enjoy!

A radio 3DB Christmas party c.1960s. DB 4443 Laurie Richards Collection. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne





The Olympic Arts Festival 


The Olympic Arts Festival was a special feature of the 1956 Melbourne Games. While fine arts competitions were associated with previous Olympics, Melbourne was the first Games to have an arts festival as part of the official program.

Programme for the Olympic Arts Festival. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.

This program included fine art and design exhibitions and a Festival of Music and Drama that aimed to communicate something of Australia’s national character to overseas visitors and showcase the county’s best talent.

Music was a large part of the Festival with the Melbourne Symphony and Sydney Symphony Orchestras presenting concerts. This included a unique combined performance at the Olympic Swimming pool, where Sir Bernard Heinze conducted what was claimed to be the largest symphony orchestra ever assembled in Australia. During the performance soprano Glenda Raymond sung Ah, fors’è lui from La Traviata, and Olympic Overture by Clive Douglas was premiered. This work was the winning entry in an Olympic Composers Competition staged by APRA and the ABC.

The combined Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras during the Olympic Swimming Pool performance, 2 December 1956. ABC 344 Laurie Richards Collection. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.
Glenda Raymond and Sir Bernard Heinze at the Olympic Swimming Pool performance, 2 December 1956. ABC 340 Laurie Richards Collection. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.


The Duke of Edinburgh was in the audience at the joint Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestra concerts, 2 December 1956. ABC 340 Laurie Richards Collection. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.
Prime Minister Roberts Menzies at the Olympic Swimming Pool performance, 2 December 1956. ABC 339 Laurie Richards Collection. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.

Other festival events included free Music for the People concerts at the Botanic Gardens conducted Hector Crawford and a chamber music festival at Melba Hall. At Her Majesty’s Theatre the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust presented a program of four operas by Mozart, Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and the Children’s marionette play The Tintookies.

Companies not included in the Festival also staged special Olympic productions. At New Theatre, Dick Diamond’s Australian musical Under the Coolibah Tree was presented. Despite public suspicion of communism and condemnation of the Soviet Union after the Hungarian Uprising (this famously manifested in a brawl between the USSR vs Hungary water polo teams), the left leaning New Theatre kept things friendly by inviting Soviet journalists and a Chinese theatre company to view the show.

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At the Tivoli, re-opened after an extensive refurbishment, the Olympic Follies was presented. This was an extravaganza of variety featuring the Hungarian acrobatic dancers Julia and Darvas, with lavish stage design by Angus Winneke.

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The amazing Darvas and Julia, c.1956. 2002.034.465 Betty Stewart Collection. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne.

As you can see, life in Melbourne during the Games was friendly, social and entertaining. If you’d like to learn more about what was on during the Games check out the digitised newspapers in Trove . You can also ask our Research Centre for help in locating objects and information about this and other Performing Arts topics.

Melbourne Olympic Games

22 November – 8 December 1956

Part 1

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. It was the first time the Games had been staged in the Southern Hemisphere and the first time Australians had the opportunity to view the Olympics on television.

After a series of parliamentary debates and a Royal Commission, television was introduced to Australia in time for the Melbourne Olympics. Bruce Gyngell famously welcomed Sydney viewers to television on the 16th of September 1956 and on the 4th of November, Melbourne viewers were greeted by the Premier of Victoria, Henry Bolte, as he officially opened the HSV7 studios in South Melbourne.

The Laurie Richards Collection contains an interesting record of Australia’s television pioneers. Richards was a professional photographer and captured the ABC news team at work filming and broadcasting the Games into Australian homes.

Calling it how they see it – sports commentators at the Melbourne Olympics, 1956. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne. Laurie Richards Collection ABC 330.


Filming from the newly erected Olympic Stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), 1956. Performing Arts Collection Arts Centre Melbourne. Laurie Richards Collection ABC 332.
An ABC TV cameraman films the athletics competition, 1956. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne. Laurie Richards Collection ABC 333.
Inside the ABC broadcast van, 1956. This van is now part of the National Museum of Australia’s collection. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne. Laurie Richards Collection ABC 335. 

If you are interested in the story of television and the Olympics, The National Museum of Australia has a great article in their Defining Moments in Australian History series. Another wonderful resource is the National Film and Sound Archive NFSA Films YouTube channel, where you can watch hours of footage from the 1956 Olympics created by professional and amateur filmmakers.

Part 2 will explore the Olympic Arts Festival and other theatrical events staged during the Games. In the meantime, why not have a look at all things Olympic in our online collection. There’s even a splash of Kylie.