Fairy Tales: Timothy Horn’s improbable objects

 

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition comes alive with magical moments that defy expectations. Timothy Horn’s Mother-load 2008 presents an improbable object — a coach made of sugar — rendering make‑believe into reality, while Glass slipper (ugly blister) 2001 gives a modern take on the ‘Cinderella’ story with an oversized, highly embellished jewel-encrusted slipper.

Buy Tickets to ‘Fairy Tales’
Until 28 April 2024
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

‘Fairy Tales’ unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents newer tales of parallel worlds that are filled with unexpected ideas and paths. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to celebrate aspirations, challenge convention and forge new directions.

Travel with us in our weekly series through each room and theme of the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) as we take you on a tour of artwork highlights on display.

DELVE DEEPER: Journey through the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition with our weekly series

EXHIBITION THEME: 12 Ever After

Timothy Horn ‘Mother-load’ 2008

Australian sculptor Timothy Horn’s Mother-load 2008 (illustraterd), from his ‘Bitter Suite’ series, is a striking half-sized rendering of an ornate sedan chair — popular among the Neapolitan elite of the eighteenth century — encrusted in golden crystallised rock sugar. The work is grounded in the historical ‘rags to riches’ tale of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels. Spreckels rose from humble beginnings as a child of Danish immigrants to become a renowned North American art collector, philanthropist and socialite through her marriage to sugar baron Adolph Spreckels, whom she affectionately called her ‘sugar daddy’.

Motherload is inspired by the antique coach owned by ‘Big Alma’, who used it as a phonebooth in her Pacific Heights mansion in San Francisco. This highly embellished sculpture presents the kind of impossible fantasy of wealth and opulence central to many aspirational stories, including ‘Cinderella’. Its sugary materiality — beckoning viewers to contemplate a forbidden taste of the artwork.

Timothy Horn, Australia/United States b.1964 / Mother-load 2008, installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane 2023 / Crystalised rock sugar, plywood, steel / Courtesy: Timothy Horn / © Timothy Horn

Timothy Horn ‘Glass slipper (ugly blister)’ 2001

In contrast to the faceted lines of an all-glass slipper, the jewel-encrusted lead crystal creation of Timothy Horn, Glass slipper (ugly blister) 2001 (illustrated), from the artist’s ‘Cinderella Complex’ sculpture series, captures the grandeur of the court of Louis XIV and the Palace of Versailles at the time of Charles Perrault’s telling of ‘Cinderella’. In the Baroque period, glass mirrors and crystal were highly valued objects of opulence and luxury. Fascinated by eighteenth-century engravings, patterns, jewellery and fashion, Horn blends a love of Baroque and Rococo art and glasswork.

Timothy Horn, Australia/United States b.1964 / Glass slipper (ugly blister) 2001, installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane 2023 / Lead crystal, nickel-plated bronze, Easter egg foil, silicon / 51 x 72 x 33cm / Purchased 2002 / Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra / © Timothy Horn

TheFairy Talesexhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

#QAGOMA

For the love of it: Curator picks for 2024

 

On the last Wednesday of each month of 2024 the Australian Cinémathèque curatorial team present ‘For the love of it: A curator’s pick’ These films which have shaped the way they think about cinema — unbounded by theme, genre, or era, this eclectic selection ranges from guilty pleasures to Palme d’Or winners, most of which have never screened at QAGOMA.

On 27 March, Rosie Hays will present Underground (1995), Emir Kursturica’s raucus, circus-esque reflection on survival in times of war, which follows a community who move underground in war-torn Sarajevo.

In an equally vibrant screening, Rob Hughes has selected The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984). This pinnacle of Hong Kong action cinema features one of the most extraordinarily choreographed fight sequences in cinema history, and will screen on 24 April.

Amanda Slack-Smith’s pick for 29 May is Boaz Yakin’s neo-noir Fresh (1994). Set in the slums of New York City, this gritty film applies the logic of chess to find a path through the injustices faced by contemporary African-American communities.

By mid-year, Lynne Ramsay’s, mesmeric Morvern Callar (2002), will be introduced by Sophie Hopmeier on 26 June. This enigmatic tale of mourning and reinvention is a tour de force of sensory cinema.

March | Underground (1995) M

Emir Kursturica’s meditation on war and the whirlwind of being caught in its tumult beats with a raucous and ecstatic heart. In Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia, a band of people head underground to live in a cellar seeking safety from the political corruption and conflict raging through the ravaged city. A moment of refuge becomes 20 years of life as they are convinced the war has not ended. Weddings, celebrations, parades and all the highs and lows of the human condition continue on in their self-imposed exile. The film is driven by Goran Bregović’s unruly, vital score that blends Gypsy and Balkan brass with punk sensibilities. A tour de force of the brutal, bombastic and beautiful motivations between people, Underground won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995.

6.30pm, Wednesday 27 March 2024

Production still from Underground (1995) / Director: Emir Kusturica / Image courtesy: Newen Connect

April | The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984) M

Partway through the production of this martial arts epic from the legendary Shaw Brothers studio, lead actor Alexander Fu Sheng was killed in a car accident. Filming was halted and the script re-written by its pioneering director-choreographer Lau Kar-leung, who shaped the film into an enthralling treatise on rage, vengeance and mourning – culminating in arguably the most extraordinary action climax ever captured on celluloid. One of the highest peaks of Hong Kong cinema, The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter is a stunningly choreographed, potently realised showcase of the depths of the soul and the upper limits of what the human body can achieve.

6.30pm, Wednesday 24 April 2024

Production still from The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984) / Director: Lau Kar-Leung / Image courtesy: Celestial Pictures

May | Fresh (1994) MA15+

Boaz Yakin’s Fresh is a coming-of-age story and gritty tale of crime and retribution in the slum neighbourhoods of New York City. Fresh (Sean Nelson) is a tough 12-year old who plans on surviving his current situation. While living in foster care with his Aunt and sister Nichole (N’Bushe Wright), he deals drugs for local gangster Esteban (Giancarlo Esposito) and saves the money. Wise beyond his years, Fresh decides to use the logic of chess learnt from his estranged father (Samuel L Jackson), to form a strategy that might help him achieve his ultimate goal. Incisive and packing an emotional pull, Fresh is a riveting and entirely unique neo-noir that situates the genre within a contemporary African-American experience.

6.30pm, Wednesday 29 May 2024

Production still from Fresh (1994) / Director: Boaz Yakin / Image courtesy: Studio Canal Australia

June | Morvern Callar (2002) M

Lynne Ramsay’s enigmatic adaption of Alan Warner’s novel traces the actions of Scottish supermarket worker Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) following the death of her boyfriend. Moved according to her own strange logic and (a)moral code, Callar is a serene and inscrutable figure. Whilst Morton’s stripped back performance highlights a state of disconnection, we are drawn in through her character’s rich sensory world. Ramsay’s exquisitely shot and soundtracked film is a masterwork of visual atmosphere, touching us though the substance and texture of images, which envelop us in sensations which make us experience the world around us anew.

6.30pm, Wednesday 26 June 2024

Production still from Morvern Callar 2002 / Director: Lynne Ramsay / Image courtesy: Company Pictures

July | The Taste of Tea (2004) 18+

August | The Heartbreak Kid (1972) M

September | P’tit Quinquin (2014) 15+

December | Visages Villages (Faces Places) (2017) G

The Australian Cinémathèque
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment by local musicians or on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Featured image: Production still from Fresh (1994) / Director: Boaz Yakin / Image courtesy: Studio Canal Australia 

#QAGOMA

Telia rumal: Double ikat textiles from South India

 

This collection of extraordinary telia rumal (some of which are on display within the exhibition ‘I Can Spin Skies’ at the Queensland Art Gallery’s Henry and Amanda Bartlett Galleries (5 & 6) was made using time-consuming double ikat dyeing techniques. Few weavers still maintain the skills required to create these attractive textiles, in part because economic pressure demands faster production.

Dana McCown, textile specialist on the telia rumal tradition, and who recently gifted this collection to QAGOMA gives us an insight into their craftsmanship and beauty.

Gajam Ramulu ‘Telia rumal’ 1999

Gajam Ramulu, India 1944-2012 / Telia rumal 1999 / Dyed cotton, warp and weft ikat, alizarin dye, natural oil and ash treatment / 109 x 107cm / Gift of Dana McCown through the QAGOMA Foundation 2020 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © QAGOMA

Gunti Bhaskar Rao ‘Telia rumal with Islamic designs’ c.1990s

Gunti Bhaskar Rao, India b.unknown / Telia rumal with Islamic designs c.1990s / Dyed cotton, warp and weft ikat, alizarin dye / 105 x 108cm / Gift of Dana McCown through the QAGOMA Foundation 2020 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © QAGOMA

Nalgonda Weaver ‘Telia rumal with lions, clocks and swastikas’  c.1990s

Nalgonda Weaver, India / Telia rumal with lions, clocks and swastikas c.1990s / Dyed cotton, warp and weft ikat in centre, supplementary weft lines in border corner / 112 x 208cm / Gift of Dana McCown through the QAGOMA Foundation 2020 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © QAGOMA

The origins of telia rumal

The name telia rumal is derived from the oil process that enables the cotton fibre to accept dye. Telia means oil and rumal means square, referring to the basic shape of the textile. The style developed in Chirala, on the coast of Andra Pradesh, with the earliest recorded pieces made in the 1800s, but spread further to the Nalgonda District due to high demand from Arabic markets. Presently, the village of Puttapaka, Nalgonda District is one of the few places still weaving the telia rumal. There, the Gajam family have been keeping the skill alive.

Traditionally the imagery of the telia rumal was simple and geometric, but over time both Arabic and Hindu imagery was introduced. In the 1920s, more modern images emerged, from airplanes to clocks.

The Puttapaka weavers carrying on the tradition are from the Padmasali caste, which, translated, means ‘lotus weavers’. Life in the village centres around the temple; within, a family tree on the wall depicts the god Markandeye at the apex, with all Padmasali weavers descending from his sons.

The ikat process

The more common single form of ikat is a process where the warp or weft yarn is resist-tied before being dyed and then woven. (‘Resist dying’ uses various methods — in this case, tied-off sections of yarn — to dye textiles with patterns.) Single ikat is found in many places around the world, but double ikat is more rare, requiring a high degree of work and precision found in only a few places, particularly in Japan, India and Bali.

(Left to right) Examples of weft, warp and double ikat styles, as illustrated by the author / Courtesy: Dana McCown

There is a simple way to distinguish if fabric is ikat: the edges of images have a ‘feathering’ effect, created as the yarn moves slightly while weaving. If the feathering is on the right and left sides of the image, then it is weft ikat; if on the top and bottom, it is warp ikat. Feathering on all edges of shapes and images indicates double ikat.

A closer look at ikat textile feathering in Gunti Bhaskar Rao’s Telia rumal with Islamic designs (detail) c.1990s / Gift of Dana McCown through the QAGOMA Foundation 2020 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © QAGOMA

To make telia rumal imagery, the weaving process requires an even greater degree of precision and preparation than for single ikat. To create the tied resist (undyed) areas on the yarn, the warp is first taken outside and stretched to full length. Rumals are traditionally made in units of eight. After stretching the yarn, a folding process enables all eight pieces to be tied at once, thus saving considerable time. The large areas to be resisted are tied with black rubber strips from bicycle inner tubes. These are easily available in the village, as many villagers ride bikes. Small resist areas are done with cotton yarn.

Craftsmen in Puttapaka stretch out warp yarn down the street, 1999 / Photograph: Dana McCown

The weft yarn is also tied in bundles depending on how complex the design is. The simple design in this weft yarn — seen stretched out below on a frame for tying — has only 15 bundles to be tied differently. More complex designs could have 150 bundles all tied and dyed differently. The first colour is always red; after that dye bath, ties are removed and re-tied to protect red and white areas from the black dye.

Weft is wound onto the frame with 15 dyed bundles to create this design, Puttapaka, 1999 / Photograph: Dana McCown
Yarn is removed from a red dye pot — always the first colour to be applied, Puttapaka, 1999 / Photograph: Dana McCown
Ramulu weaves a telia rumal length on a pit loom with fly shuttle in Puttapaka, 1999 / Photograph: Dana McCown

How telia rumal fabric is used

Traditionally, telia rumal has been worn in various ways by both men and women. Here are contemporary examples of it being worn both as turban and shoulder cloth for men.

Telia rumal textiles are worn in various ways (Left to right) A Hyderabad man wears a simple turban made with three lengths of rumal, 1999; master weaver Gajam Govardhan wears a shoulder cloth of two lengths, Puttapaka, 1999 / Photographs: Dana McCown

During the rule of the Nizams (1724–1948), telia rumal was popular with aristocratic Muslim women of Hyderabad. They wore two (square) rumal lengths joined together as dupattas or shoulder cloths. Eventually these dupattas were specially woven as rectangles, without the border between the two squares. Occasionally, they were heavily embroidered around the edges using gold, silver or silk thread to create a luxurious textile.

The contemporary telia rumal shawl/dupatta (illustrated below), hand-embroidered with silk thread in a paisley motif with trailing flowers, was commissioned by late textile enthusiast, Mrs Suraiya Hasan of Hyderabad. She searched for weavers and embroiderers able to replicate old styles seen in museum photographs.

Nalgonda Weaver, India / Embroidered dupatta rumal 2004 / Puttapaka saree, cotton yarn, hand-embroidered silk, warp and weft ikat, dyes / 92 x 250cm / Gift of Dana McCown through the QAGOMA Foundation 2020 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © QAGOMA

Today, telia rumals are recognised for their craftsmanship and beauty, and are also created for decorative purposes. The large award-winning piece pictured below — designed and woven by Master Weaver Gajam Govardhan of Puttapaka — contains 100 different images of significance. Because there are no repeated images, the work required to resist-tie the yarn took months. Hundreds of bundles were individually tied and died for warp and weft. It is considered his ‘masterpiece’. For this extraordinary accomplishment, he was awarded the Padma Shri Award — the fourth-highest civilian award for distinguished service in India.

Weaving the telia rumal in South India

Two groups of the telia rumal gifted to the QAGOMA Collection have been featuredI Can Spin Skies’ in Queensland Art Gallery’s Henry and Amanda Bartlett Galleries (Galleries 5 and 6) between August 2023 and June 2024.

Dana McCown is a textile specialist world-renowned for her research on the telia rumal tradition. Her expertise is captured in a remarkable collection of textiles, gifted to the Gallery in 2020, which she worked closely with artists to develop over the course of more than 25 years. A selection of these works was included in ‘An Endangered Species: Telia Rumal: Double Ikats of South India’, exhibited at Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery in 2001, for which McCown wrote the accompanying publication.

Featured image: Gajam Govardhan’s award-winning 100 motif telia rumal 2011, installed for the first rotation of ‘I Can Spin Skies’, QAG, Nov 2023 / Gift of Dana McCown through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation 2020 / © QAGOMA / Photograph: J Ruckli © QAGOMA

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Fairy Tales: Ever After

 

The final major theme of ‘Fairy Tales’, ‘Ever After’ addresses love and the myriad ways this complex emotion plays out in the genre. While the sentiment of ‘happily ever after’ often implies romantic love, fairy tales also offer broader perspectives on human connections, including love in all its forms — familial, platonic, intellectual and, of course, unrequited.

Bringing together works of art, design and film, ‘Ever After’ draws on the influential writings of Hans Christian Andersen, Carlo Collodi, AS Byatt and Oscar Wilde, alongside the many stories inspired by the Arabian Nights — also known as One Thousand and One Nights — a volume of Middle Eastern folktales and stories from across the Arab world and India.

Production still from The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) / Director: Lotte Reiniger / Courtesy: The British Film institute National Archive, London / © British Film institute

Published at the same time European fairy tales emerged from French salons, these stories were first translated from Arabic in the early 1700s by French orientalist Antoine Galland, who took the liberty of adding his own now-famous tales, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’. Hugely popular, their themes of wealth, revenge and transformation merged with European conventions to forge the modern fairy tale. These influences can be seen in the aspirational stories of ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Snow White’, narratives that continue to inform our understanding of fairy tales and romantic love to this day.

Buy Tickets to ‘Fairy Tales’
Until 28 April 2024
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

‘Fairy Tales’ unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents newer tales of parallel worlds that are filled with unexpected ideas and paths. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to celebrate aspirations, challenge convention and forge new directions.

Travel with us in our weekly series through each room and theme of the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) as we take you on a journey to see magical objects on display.

DELVE DEEPER: Journey through the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition with our weekly series

EXHIBITION THEME: 11 Ever After

Lotte Reiniger ‘Aladdin and the Magic Lamp’ (1954)

Lotte Reiniger, Germany/England 1899–1981 / Production stills from Aladdin and the Magic Lamp 1954 / 35mm film transferred to digital: 14 minutes, black and white (tinted), mono; English; Director/animator: Lotte Reiniger / Courtesy: The British Film institute National Archive, London / © British Film institute

‘Arabian Nights’ (or ‘One Thousand and One Nights’) — a collection of folktales from the Middle East — have been influential throughout the history of cinema, not least in the work of German animator and filmmaker Lotte Reiniger. Reiniger’s Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed) (1926) (illustrated) was released more than ten years before the Walt Disney Studio production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), making it the earliest existing animated feature.

Reiniger was the foremost pioneer of the silhouette animation technique, created by manipulating cardboard cut-outs of characters and backgrounds, frame by frame, the camera overhead taking a single shot with each movement. Reiniger would go on to make more than 60 animated films, sequences and advertisements using this painstaking technique. A tale of love, adventure and a genie, Reiniger’s Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (1954) (illustrated and screening in ‘Fairy Tales’) recreates sequences and motifs from The Adventures of Prince Achmed.

Hans Christian Andersen Papercuts c.1850s–70s

Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark 1805–75 / Papercuts installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane 2023 / Collection: Museum Odense, Denmark

Danish author and artist Hans Christian Andersen was one of the most prolific tellers of fairy tales of the nineteenth-century. He wrote 168 tales, including the beloved stories of ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘The Snow Queen’, ‘The Little Match Girl’ and ‘The Nightingale’, to name just a few. Andersen embraced the joy and wonder of fairy tales; his poetic stories often focused on themes of identity, transformation, and the complexities of human emotions. In contrast to the Brothers Grimm, who collected existing stories from others, Andersen wrote new fairy tales, drawing on folklore, mythology and his own experiences.

Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark 1805–75 / Swans with ballerinas c.1850s–70s / Paper, mounted on card / 9.4 x 13.6cm / Collection: Museum Odense, Denmark
Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark 1805–75 / Theatre decoration with ballerinas holding a wreath 1874 / Paper, mounted on card / 13.3 x 18.2cm / Collection: Museum Odense, Denmark

In his private life, Andersen was also a great oral storyteller and entertained his friends with delicate papercuts, which he would unfurl to reveal enchanting pictures and landscapes filled with trees, castles, theatres and dancers. Andersen described these scherenschnittes (‘scissor cuts’) — inspired by the ancient Chinese art of papercutting and silhouette puppetry popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries — as a prelude to writing. He would produce the papercuts during after-dinner conversations, gifting them to his companions and hosts. While not directly related to Andersen’s famous tales, the nine papercuts on display in ‘Fairy Tales’ feature recurrent images drawn from the theatre, ballet and other performances, as well as images capturing the widespread nineteenth-century fascination with distant lands and cultures.

Henri Matisse Ballets Russes costume c.1920

Henri Matisse, France 1869–1954 / Marie Muelle (costumier), France / Costume for a mourner (from the Ballets Russes de Sergei Diaghilev production of ‘Le chant du rossignol’) c.1920 installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane 2023 / Cotton-wool felt, cotton-silk velvet, sized cotton, steel wire, cotton lining / 166.5cm (height; centre back) / Purchased 1973 / Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra / © Succession H Matisse/Copyright Agency

In Hans Christian Andersen’s story ‘The Nightingale’ (1843), a Chinese emperor learns the value of unconditional love and forgiveness from a nightingale, a small brown bird with a magical voice. Despite being replaced by a prettier, jewel-encrusted, mechanical songbird (presented to the emperor as a gift), the nightingale returns to him in his hour of need. Andersen’s reflection on the timeless worth of friendship expressed in this story also reflected his era, one of great industrialisation, in which the values of nature and technology were being weighed.

Andersen’s ‘The Nightingale’ has been adapted to stage and screen, including, most notably, for the Paris-based Ballets Russes’s 1920 variation of composer Igor Stravinsky’s 1914 opera Le chant du rossignol (Song of the Nightingale), on display in ‘Fairy Tales’ is Costume for a mourner c.1920 (illustrated), one of most famous costumes from the performance. Known for their unconventional and ambitious productions, the Ballets Russes developed inventive collaborations with choreographers, composers, designers and artists.

Detail of Costume for a mourner (from the Ballets Russes de Sergei Diaghilev production of ‘Le chant du rossignol’) c.1920

Henri Matisse was commissioned by Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev to design the costumes, set and decorative elements for the production. Costume for a mourner is one of the few costumes to have survived. Influenced by the Persian and Indian art Matisse had seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London while working on the ballet, the costume’s design also features the artist’s distinctive use of paper-cutting, evident in the appliqué of velvet chevrons adorning a loose-fitting white felt robe and headdress. While Matisse’s more widely known ‘cut-out’ period did not emerge until much later in his career, this early use of cut‑outs in his modernist ballet design echoes Hans Christian Andersen’s love of storytelling using intricate papercuts.

Kenneth Branagh (director) Glass slipper from ‘Cinderella’ (2015)

Kenneth Branagh (director), United Kingdom b.1960 / Sandy Powell (designer), England b.1960 / Glass slipper from Cinderella 2015 installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane 2023 / Swarovski crystal / 20.3 x 19 x 7.6cm / Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company / © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Having traversed borders and cultures, from ancient Egypt to China, to Greece, ‘Cinderella’ is one of the oldest recorded fairy tales. The most familiar version of the tale today draws on French author Charles Perrault’s ‘Cendrillon‘, written in 1697. Perrault’s was the first version to introduce the iconic fairy godmother, pumpkin coach and slipper made of glass — a magical object that sees noble rights restored, usurpers denounced, and eternal love granted.

On display in ‘Fairy Tales’ we see one of the most iconic glass slippers in cinematic history, the Swarovski crystal creation (illustrated), designed by Sandy Powell for director Kenneth Branagh’s live-action film Cinderella 2015. This slipper was developed directly from the example in the 1950 Walt Disney Studios’ animated film. Manifested on screen with the magical wave of her fairy godmother’s wand, the slipper’s fragility and specific fit speaks to the unique value bestowed on Ella, for displaying the ideals of goodness, kindness, resilience and humility.

TheFairy Talesexhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

#QAGOMA

Photogrammetry: 3D imaging of Fred Embrey’s ceremonial figure

 

As part of QAGOMA’s Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI), the Gallery’s photography team collaborates with conservators, coders and designers in its quest to make the Collection available to everyone.

One way the DTI team improves how we understand, care for and represent artworks is through 3D digital capture. Made possible at QAGOMA through the support of donors to the Unlock the Collection campaign, 3D imaging’s impacts are wide-reaching, with benefits for conservators, academics and the public.

Recently, Nicholas Umek (Senior Photographer) and Thomas Renn (Motion Designer) used the process of photogrammetry to create a 3D model of celebrated Kabi Kabi man’s Fred Embrey’s Untitled ceremonial figure c.1930. Representing a Djan’djari spirit, the work is one of only three known works in its genre and was recently the subject of a major research project between QAGOMA and the University of Queensland, supported generously by the Mather Foundation.

Delve deeper: Learn about the QAGOMA team’s innovations and challenges in creating a 3D model of this work.
3D Experience: Fred Embrey’s Untitled ceremonial figure’.
Read more: Visit Collection Online to learn how Nicholas, Thomas and team create a 3D model of an artwork.
On display: Visit ‘Voices of Our Elders: Aboriginal Story Tellers’, Anthropology Museum, The University of Queensland until November 2024.

QAGOMA Collection Online Photographers preparing Fred Embrey’s Untitled ceremonial figure c.1930 for photogrammetric capture, QAGOMA, January 2024 / Photograph: N Umek © QAGOMA
Fred Embrey, Kabi Kabi people, Australia c.1880 – 1939 / Untitled ceremonial figure c.1930 / Carved softwood with natural pigments, emu feathers bound with bush string and resin / 65.5 x 14 x 14cm / Purchased 2020 with funds from the Mather Foundation through the QAGOMA Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

Where regular photography captures scenes in 2D, photogrammetry is a method of making a 3D model of an object in digital space. To do this, Nicholas and team take dozens — often hundreds — of photos at precise intervals in rings around an object, creating a ‘dataset’ of views from every possible angle.

Next, Thomas processes the dataset on a powerful computer he describes as ‘a small UFO’. He uses specialised software to cross-reference points of interest across the images, extrapolating the object’s shape, texture and position in space to create an accurate 3D model.

For Fred Embrey’s sculpture, nearly 600 total photos were used to create the final model — a process not unlike digital papier-mâché.

An in-progress ‘point cloud’ rendering of Fred Embrey’s sculpture shows a complete dataset of seven rings of photos / Image: T Renn © QAGOMA
Fred Embrey’s Untitled ceremonial figure c.1930 during photogrammetric capture, QAGOMA, January 2024 / Photograph: N Umek © QAGOMA

A model like this is not only of value to art conservators — who wish to monitor an artwork’s condition closely over time — but also offers new and rich ways of experiencing an artwork from anywhere in the world. Photogrammetry is also used at QAGOMA to create real-world tactile experiences, like touchable replicas of artworks.

For the ‘Quilty’ exhibition held at GOMA in 2019, visitors were invited to touch 3D replicas of Ben Quilty’s textured impasto artworks, June 2019

I’m of the belief that the collections of public institutions such as QAGOMA belong to the people; 3D imaging like this offers us new ways to democratise access to our Collection. Nicholas Umek, Senior Photographer, QAGOMA

This photogrammetry project, in particular, helps uphold an important Queensland artist’s legacy. With the support of the Mather Foundation, Fred Embrey’s family recently collaborated with QAGOMA to make a documentary on the contributions of this important Queensland artist, who lived at Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement during the 1930s. The 3D model — which you can explore online — is another way to preserve and experience this rare work of national significance.

Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal peoples, Torres Strait Islander peoples, and Elders past and present. In the spirit of reconciliation, we acknowledge the immense creative contribution First Australians, as the first visual artists and storytellers, make to the art and culture of this country. It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.

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Fairy Tales: There’s no place like home

 

Fairy tales of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries took a new focus on ‘home’ as a place of relative stability. Protagonists such as Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz seek a return from strange and troubling parallel worlds to the familiarity and safety of their former lives.

In the classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939), Dorothy, played by Judy Garland, clicks her red heels together three times and repeats the phrase ‘There’s no place like home’ to transport herself and her dog Toto from the Land of Oz back home to her life in Kansas.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Alice and Dorothy’s journeys explore disorientation, theatricality and the wonders of the childhood imagination. The characters have also become reassuring stand-ins for those experiencing real-world challenges such as psychological, physical or political experiences of loss and displacement.

Buy Tickets to ‘Fairy Tales’
Until 28 April 2024
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents newer tales of parallel worlds that are filled with unexpected ideas and paths. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to celebrate aspirations, challenge convention and forge new directions.

Travel with us in our weekly series through each room and theme of the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) as we explore some of the works on display.

DELVE DEEPER: Journey through the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition with our weekly series

EXHIBITION THEME: 10 Through the Looking Glass

Charles Blackman

Charles Blackman first encountered Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872) through his wife Barbara, a writer and poet whose progressive blindness led her to listen to recordings of the stories read by BBC announcer Robin Holmes. Inspired by the visual imagery produced by Carroll’s whimsical wordplay (rather than the book’s famous illustrations by John Tenniel, which the artist had not seen), Blackman began to draw parallels between Alice’s nonsensical and unpredictable encounters and the real-world challenges he and his wife faced as a young couple. In addition to Barbara’s failing eyesight, an impending baby and changes in their financial circumstances influenced the development of Blackman’s series of 41 paintings.

Shown in ‘Fairy Tales’ are three works from the series: The Blue Alice 1956 (illustrated), which sees Alice (Barbara) and the White Rabbit (Blackman) being wed by the story’s Dormouse; Feet beneath the table 1956 (illustrated), which depicts a pregnant Barbara surrounded by cups and a teapot (in the vein of the ‘Mad Tea-Party’), melded with objects from Blackman’s working life as a short‑order cook; while Drink Me 1956 (illustrated) draws a wry parallel between Alice’s encounters with liquids and the medicines prescribed to Barbara for pregnancy-related heartburn. The integration of the Blackmans’ personal experiences with those of Alice offers a whimsical transformation of the tale from fiction to reality.

Charles Blackman The Blue Alice 1956-57

Charles Blackman, Australia 1928-2018 / The Blue Alice 1956-57 / Tempera, oil and household enamel on composition board / 122 x 122cm / Purchased 2000. The Queensland Government’s special Centenary Fund / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Charles Blackman/Copyright Agency

Charles Blackman ‘Feet beneath the table’ 1956

Charles Blackman, Australia 1928–2018 / Feet beneath the table 1956 / Tempera and oil on composition board / 106.5 x 121.8cm / Presented through the NGV Foundation by Barbara Blackman, Honorary Life Benefactor, 2005 / Collection: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne / © Charles Blackman/Copyright Agency

Charles Blackman ‘Drink Me’ 1956

Charles Blackman, Australia 1928–2018 / Drink Me 1956 / Tempera and oil on board / 121.5 x 134.5cm / Private collection / Courtesy: Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane / © Charles Blackman/Copyright Agency

Tim Burton (director) ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (2010)

Now over 150 years old, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland continues to capture the imagination across artforms from fine art to performance and film. In the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton, we see Alice all grown up. In this rendition of the tale, she is now 19 years old and on the cusp of an engagement when she follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole. While still disorientated by her plunge into a new world, Burton’s Alice is more assured than the young child of Carroll’s book, and while personal growth and self-discovery are still part of the journey, Alice’s tale is now one of an empowered and independent heroine. Burton is known for his darkly whimsical directorial style and celebrated for his many films that subvert traditional fairy-tale tropes by offering a macabre spin on ideas of love, marriage and convention.

In ‘Fairy Tales’, we bring together three key costumes from his Alice in Wonderland — those of Alice, the Mad Hatter and the Red Queen (illustrated) — designed by Academy Award-winner Colleen Atwood.

Tim Burton (director), United States b.1958 / Colleen Atwood (designer), United States b.1948 / From Alice in Wonderland 2010 / (Left to right) ‘Alice’ costume; Silk, synthetic lace, plastic, metal / ‘Mad Hatter’ costume; Silk, synthetic lace, plastic, wood, metal, synthetic silk, yarn, velcro, synthetic fur, cotton, polyester, leather, synthetic fleece, silicone, glitter, synthetic hair, metallic thread, ostrich feathers, rubber, paint / ‘Red Queen’ costume; Silk, corduroy, synthetic jewels, plastic, polyester, synthetic lace, metal foil / Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company / © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved / Photograph: N Umek © QAGOMA
Tim Burton (director), United States b.1958 / Colleen Atwood (designer), United States b.1948 / From Alice in Wonderland 2010 / ‘Mad Hatter’ costume; Silk, synthetic lace, plastic, wood, metal, synthetic silk, yarn, velcro, synthetic fur, cotton, polyester, leather, synthetic fleece, silicone, glitter, synthetic hair, metallic thread, ostrich feathers, rubber, paint / Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company / © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved / Photograph: N Umek © QAGOMA
Installation view, ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane featuring (Left to right) costumes by Colleen Atwood from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland 2010; Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company; © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved / Carsten Höller’s Flying Mushrooms 2015; Courtesy: The artist and Gagosian; © Carsten Holler. VG Bild-Kunst/Copyright Agency / Polixeni Papapetrou ‘Wonderland’ series 2004; Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art; © Polixeni Papapetrou/Copyright Agency / Photograph: J Ruckli © QAGOMA

TheFairy Talesexhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

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