I could not resist telling everyone about how amazing my visit to the Bendigo Art Gallery was when I attended the Marilyn Monroe exhibition presented by the Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox. I truly loved it so much and craved to spend longer in beautiful Bendigo and of course, take more photos. However, time was running out, with the exhibition ending on Sunday the 10th of July.
Well, it ended up working out perfectly. I told my friend, Christine about how wonderful the exhibition was and when she said that she had not yet been, I stated that she HAD to go because it really was an opportunity not to be missed. I mentioned that I loved it so much that I so desperately yearned to return. Much to my excitement, she asked me if I wanted to go with her. I think my heart skipped a beat and I couldn’t have said yes any quicker. Hence, on Wednesday, the 29th of June, I went back to Bendigo with Christine. Yay!
This time, I was able to catch the introduction talk at the exhibition entrance. I also had the opportunity to spend longer admiring all the beautiful images and artefacts inside the exhibition. It was such a privilege to be so close to Marilyn’s possessions and costumes again.
Once more, I had the pleasure of closely marvelling at items formally owned by the star herself. I was especially excited to again view Marilyn’s personal maternity dress. This casual, loose cotton garment featuring a pattern of roosters and chickens was worn by her in 1958 whilst she was pregnant around the time that Billy Wilder’s romantic crime comedy, ‘Some Like it Hot’ was being filmed. Sadly, she later lost her baby.
This shirtdress, which now belongs the Marilyn Monroe Collection based in California, however holds an enduring significance. And like many of the other garments exhibited, it offers such a unique insight into Marilyn’s life by having the opportunity to witness it in a three dimensional form, as opposed to two-dimensional photographs. Nothing can compare to seeing the magnificent colours and textures of the fabrics that these pieces are constructed from in real life.
Another thing that was exciting to again observe closely was the intricately detailed beading on many of her enchanting dresses. I have great admiration for all the hours that would have been spent creating these bejewelled beauties. I adore fashion from bygone eras, and one thing that fascinated me was how risqué some of the numbers were, particularly considering that these costumes were designed in the more modest mid-century times.
One daring dress I was particularly grateful for having the opportunity to again admire, was the cocktail dress that Marilyn actually wore in the black and white motion picture, ‘Some Like it Hot’. I think that this piece by Australian designer, Orry-Kelly was ingenious! Allegedly, Marilyn did not wear anything under this nude number, so the dress itself provided support. I particularly loved the cheeky heart-shaped cut-out in the back, which was right in the centre of the left side of Marilyn’s derrière when she wore the dazzling dress. The beautiful silk netting and immaculate detailing of the beading and sequins is really something else! It truly is incredibly stunning.
Of course, I spent some more time being mesmerised by Marilyn’s precious gold lamé dress laying flat inside a glass cabinet, just before we left the exhibition.
Since it was curated by the Bendigo Art Gallery, this exhibition will not be seen anywhere else in the world. Hence, it was an extreme privilege to enjoy it not only once, but twice! Such an amazing array of documents, artefacts and garments belonging to or worn by Marilyn were brought together for this exclusive event. Once again, the staff members at the gallery were all absolutely amazing. They were all so friendly and helpful and I could not speak more highly of how wonderful they all were. Both Christine and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
As we were leaving the gallery, I couldn’t resist the temptation of having another quick look in the gift shop and consequently purchased two more large postcards. I’ll be keeping my eye out for some ornate gold vintage frames and hang them with the others in my studio. I think they will look beautiful and always remind me of the amazing experiences that I had, both the first time that I attended with my Oma and Mum and the second time with Christine. Plus, I can never have too many images in my studio of one of my greatest inspirations, now can I?
Aside from the exhibition, it was fabulous to have the privilege of spending some more time photographing Seward Johnson’s magnificent Forever Marilyn sculpture.
As I had mentioned in my previous post, this spectacular sculpture has travelled all the way from the United States of America to make its international debut in Bendigo! To complement the exhibition, this eight metre high masterpiece proudly stood at Charing Cross, on the corner of View treet and Pall Mall.
The sculpture pays homage to Marilyn’s notorious subway scene for director Billy Wilder’s 1955 drama film, ‘The Seven Year Itch’ and is based on the photograph by Bernard of Hollywood, where a gust of wind catches the bombshell’s white halter neck dress as she stands over a subway grate. Weighing around fifteen tones, Forever Marilyn is constructed from painted stainless steel and aluminum.
She is part of her American artist’s Icons Revisited series, whereby Johnson creates beautiful three-dimensional monuments from images that have had an enduring significance over many generations. Through this series, the artist intended to explore the idea that ‘makes and image stick with us’, creating a lasting impression that ‘becomes something more than its one moment in time’. This is undoubtedly true about Marilyn’s subway scene. That singular moment of Marilyn in that billowing white dress is internationally recognised, even after more than half a century after it was captured. No doubt, it is such a strong image that epitomises the grace and glamour of Hollywood in that classic period. To see a tribute to it in such a monumental three-dimensional form is something very special.
As a lover of almost all forms of art, I have a particular soft spot for enormous sculptures. Where I live, there are a few along the Peninsula Link freeway, which I always enjoy passing. Sculptures feel like such an engaging form of art. Even the stationary ones seem to be interactive for some reason. I think it is because you can walk around the multi-dimensional forms, and they appear to change from every perspective that you view them. However, in particular, Forever Marilyn would have to be one of my favourites, as she celebrates one of my largest idols and inspirations.
Since after the exhibition, it is intended that Forever Marilyn should return to the USA, I simply did not want to miss my opportunity to photograph her whilst she was right here in Australia!
I also did not let the fact that I was wearing heels and a petticoat stop me from crawling on the ground to squeeze my lens through the metal garden edging to shoot through the bed of pretty flowers. I think they were Cyclamen ones, but species of plants aren’t really my area of expertise. Lets just say that they were flowers to be safe. The beautiful, colourful things complimented Johnson’s stunning sculpture, so I wanted to include them in some of my shots.
I was so immersed in creating an image through my viewfinder that I somehow managed to catch my heel in my petticoat, resulting in the impersonation of an upside-down turtle on the pavement. Surprisingly, I didn’t even rip my petticoat. Those things are tougher than I thought! However, a few people surrounding me, and of course myself had a good laugh. As Marilyn apparently once said, ‘it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.’
Of course, both Christine and I posed with Forever Marilyn for some photos, just as most people passing the magnificent sculpture were enticed to do. It was great how respectful and courteous everyone was; again taking turns to pose with her.
Throughout the day I had the biggest smile on my face. I was so happy that I had the opportunity to return to beautiful Bendigo. It is such a magnificent place that is well-worth visiting. There are also numerous antique and vintage shops and delightful cafes and so many things to see. The architecture of the old buildings are stunning too! However, I particularly loved the Marilyn Monroe exhibition and Forever Marilyn sculpture. If you haven’t had the chance, I would certainly recommend that you check it out. It surely is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The exhibition is now in its final days and will be ending on the 10th of July, 2016. For more information, check out the Bendigo Art Gallery website. After the exhibition, the Forever Marilyn sculpture will continue to reside at Rosalind park until the 18th of July 2016.
P.S. Just in case you are curious, here’s the details of the outfit that I wore that day:
Dress: Red and white polkadot full circle halterneck from Christine’s
Stockings: Style #4960 backseam cuban heels from the Mallory Holley Studios
Shoes: ‘Martini’ style by Wild Diva brand
Handbag: American West
Belt: Borrowed from my Hell Bunny ‘Larissa’ dress from Velvet Vixens
Lipstick: Blu-Red coloured LipSence (by SeneGence brand) from Pout Perfection
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