A few of my favourite things: Cataloguing loans for exhibitions

Vivienne Wong in Ralph Rucci Costume 2007
C. to C. (Close to Chuck), American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre Collection, New York
Photo: Jo Duck
Makeup courtesy Napoleon Perdis
© Ralph Rucci
Robyn Hendricks in Christian Lacroix
Costume for the Lead Can Can Dancer 1988
Gâité Parisienne, American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre Collection, New York
© Christian Lacroix
Photo: Jo Duck, makeup courtesy Napoleon Perdis

In addition to our collection displays, the NGV offers a rich schedule of exhibitions across both our Australian and international art venues. A checklist of the artworks to be displayed is prepared for each exhibition and these checklists comprise all of the catalogued information we need for publications, illustration captions and display labels.

While many exhibitions draw from the NGV Collection, curators also rely on the generosity of lenders. Australian and international museums, galleries, libraries, universities, performing arts organisations and private and corporate collectors have all contributed short-term loans to NGV exhibitions over the years. Many inward loans come to us with catalogued information provided by the lender but sometimes I am asked to confirm a few details, and occasionally I get the opportunity to catalogue inward loan works in full.

About this time last year I was assigned as cataloguer to the recently opened exhibition, Ballet & Fashion. Due to a fundamental lack of skill I never attended ballet classes as a kid, however, a year 12 research assignment got me hooked on The Australian Ballet so I was delighted to become involved with an exhibition that helps celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. Equally, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the exhibition’s curator, Roger Leong, to catalogue several of the loans – admittedly in part because we got to visit The Australian Ballet’s costume department where they embroider, bead and sew all kinds of magic into being.

With costumes from productions like Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake and Gâité Parisienne and designers like Akira, Valentino, Rei Kawakubo and Viktor&Rolf there is more than one ‘wow’ moment in this exhibition. My favourites turned out to be loans from the American Ballet Theatre Collection – costumes for C. to C. (Close to Chuck), designed by Ralph Rucci and the two Can Can costumes for Gâité Parisienne designed by Lacroix. These costumes were made in New York by costumier Barbara Matera and are amazing from the inside, out.

Ballet & Fashion is a joint project between The Australian Ballet and the NGV. The exhibition runs until 19 May 2013 and is located on Level 2 at NGV International.

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