From Theory to Practice – A Museum Studies Intern’s Journey

This month Museum Studies Intern Roxanna Richens shares her recent experiences  working with the Performing Arts Collection’s Kristian Fredrikson Design Collection… 

This month, I completed a two week, full time internship, working with the Arts Centre’s Performing Arts Collection. The project I worked on involved cataloguing and re-housing a collection of costume designs by Kristian Fredrikson, which perfectly drew together my Visual Arts background and my interest in costume.

In 2009 I completed a bachelor degree in Visual Arts at Monash University. Here, my practice focussed on identity, in particular the ways in which visual tropes such as Mise-en-scène, costume, props and body language signify character and cultural identity. I created and developed two personal alter egos, which were realised through self-portrait photography and a range of props relating to the character.

At present I am completing a graduate diploma in Museum Studies at Deakin University. It has been so exciting to put the knowledge from this course to practice and to confirm my passion for the industry. I have been especially excited to know that the work I have done makes the Fredrikson designs more accessible to the Arts Centre’s curators and more easily transferred to the online catalogue and therefore more accessible to exhibition and online audiences in future.

The internship has really confirmed for me, the value of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection. I have been especially fascinated by the way the different areas of the collection all link together to create an overall picture. For example, I would start with a design and could discover more about the production from the collection of programmes and in some cases I could see how the design was realised or worn on stage in the costume and photograph collections. The costume for one of the Fredrikson designs that I catalogued, ‘A Court Lady’ from The Australian Ballet production of Aurora’s Wedding, 1964 [2003.023.020] is currently on display in the Velik Foyer in Hamer Hall.

Roxanna Richens

Costume design by Kristian Fredrikson for The Nutcracker
Gift of The Australiuan Ballet, 1998

Vale Judith Cobb (1961-2012)

Set model designed by Judith Cobb for Janis Balodis’, God’s Best Country, Melbourne Theatre Company, 1988

The Australian theatre industry recently lost one of its most respected friends and colleagues, theatre designer Judith Cobb. Writer Michael Girr paid tribute to her yesterday in a moving article in which he described the way ‘her work with playwrights and directors always improved their take on what theatre was meant to achieve’.
During her career Cobb worked with many of Australia’s major theatre companies and respected playwrights including Nick Enright, Hannie Rayson, Joanna Murray-Smith and Andrew Bovell.

Her introduction to design followed hot on the heels of her graduation from a Diploma of Arts (Fashion) at RMIT in 1981. From 1981-1983 Cobb was Assistant Set and Costume Designer at Melbourne Theatre Company before being appointed Resident Designer in 1983 at the age of just 22.

The Performing Arts Collection holds a number of designs created by Cobb during this period including designs for George Bernard Shaw’s Candida (1984) and Barry Dickens’ Reservoir By Night (1985).

In 1988, Cobb left the Melbourne Theatre Company to become a rarely out-of-work freelance designer designing productions for Playbox Theatre, HIT Productions, Sydney Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company. During the 1990s she returned to study to pursue a passion for painting and became a teacher at RMIT and the Victorian College of the Arts.

Her legacy will no doubt continue to enliven the work of the many colleagues and students whose work she encouraged and influenced.