Around the world, wherever Wagner’s tetraology is performed, the pilgrims gather. Whether arriving from thousands of kilometres away or catching a tram a few stops through the city, each of those patrons is in for an all-immersive visual, aural and emotional journey.
For many, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience – and one worthy of commemorating with a souvenir. But can a fridge magnet or a keyring really encapsulate the Ring experience?
Opera Australia took a different tack when it came to curating a series of objects to commemorate the Melbourne Ring Cycle. Employing the expertise of Richard Harling, a cultural commerce consultant, the company commissioned a number of Melbourne designers to respond to the Ring in a personal, creative way.
Ceramicist Ingrid Tufts was quick to embrace the quite open brief, seeing a perfect fit with her hand-thrown, illustrated ceramic work. “I’ve heard parts of the Ring cycle and the thing that stood out to me is that it’s such a big work,” she explains. “I wanted to explore the idea of Wagner’s genius – the genius it took to create this wonderful world.”
Ingrid has created ethereal tealights, delicate coffee cups and precious trinket boxes that all play with the popular imagery of Wagner’s music. “I wanted to explore some of the social iconography that goes with Wagner – the winged helmets and the big, brassy music.”
Whimsical drawings that explore a little of that iconography adorn her ceramics, along with handwritten words from the maestro himself – quotes that Wagner enthusiasts will be familiar with.
The results speak for themselves: each piece is a playful, pretty and functional piece of art.
Bag designer and maker Matthew Thomson was quite taken with the open brief, despite having only heard bits and pieces of Wagner’s music before he took on the project. “It really fits in with my style of work. I like the idea of needing to come up with something that is aesthetically appealing, that ties in with a particular event, with a particular location and a particular event in time.”
Matthew designs and hand-stitches a range of functional bags for his label, Mattt. The carefully made bags often feature unique digitally-printed fabrics. In this case, he has reproduced two sections of a spectacular artwork used as a backdrop at different times during the Melbourne Ring Cycle.
The result is a small range of shoulder bags, iPad sleeves and zipped pouches that each references some of the spectacular design aesthetic of Opera Australia’s first Ring cycle.
Glittering one-off pieces of jewellery, gorgeous hand-painted textiles and unique scarves made of costume off-cuts are just some of the other treasures to be discovered in the pop up store.
The store is open at the Arts Centre Melbourne during each Ring performance, from one hour before the show commences.
The products range from small souvenirs (it wouldn’t be show merchandise without the odd fridge magnet) to unique, wearable pieces of art.
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