Proceedings of the AICCM TSIG Symposium, Sydney, Australia 19 to 22 May, 2016
The exhibition “Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story” at the National Museum of Australia (NMA) during September 2014 – March 2015, explored the relationship between people and horses and how they enriched our lives, built our society and shaped our environment. As textile conservators, we worked closely with the external exhibition designers, NMA curators and the artist Harrie Fasher, to create the curatorial and design vision. This involved many challenges for the textile conservators. Along with design, time and budget constraints, the mounting of costume on mannequins with sculptured, artist-designed, metal heads and hands mounted on full sized three dimensional sculptured steel rod horses was a challenge. A floor covering of sand also created another dimension to the install and deinstall of the historical costume on open display.
To add to the complexity of the mannequin development, the range of costumes and headwear selected for the exhibition included historical costume, modern sports clothing and a military uniform. In addition, each costume was displayed in a different context – some on mannequins mounted on horses, one running beside a horse; some on open display, others in showcases. The materials used for each mannequin had to vary accordingly. Modified commercial, Ethafoam and Lindy Ward mannequins required individual approaches to interface with the artist- created heads and hands.