Go behind-the-scenes as we install ‘Fairy Tales’ – QAGOMA Blog

Fairytales transport us to faraway lands that exist out of time. In much-loved and endlessly retold stories overflowing with kings and queens, castles and carriages, feasts and riches, we find adventure, community, happiness and love.

Buy Tickets to ‘Fairy Tales’
Opens 2 December 2023, GOMA

Go behind-the-scenes at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane for a sneak peek before the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairytales 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. Let the journey begin . . .

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

Gorgeous gowns

What is a fairytale without a gorgeous gown or two or more? Conservators Michael Marendy and Elizabeth Thompson are weaving their magic behind-the-scenes, here they are preparing the support for the wedding dress from Mirror Mirror (2012) ready for the grand unveiling of lavish costumes and film props.

Conservators preparing the support for the wedding dress from Mirror Mirror (2012) / Photographs: C Callistemon © QAGOMA
Tarsem Singh (director), Eiko Ishioka (designer), Carelli Costumes (costumiers) / ‘Cream wedding dress’ costume (detail) worn by Julia Roberts as ‘Queen Clementianna’ in Mirror Mirror 2012 / Duchess silk satin, Swarovski crystals / Collection: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles / © 2012 UV RML NL Assets LLC. / Photograph: Jan Thijs / Image courtesy: Relativity Media
Tarsem Singh, India/United States b.1961 / Production still from Mirror Mirror (2012) / 35mm, colour, Dolby Digital, 106 minutes, United States/Canada, English / Director: Tarsem Singh / Producers: Bernie Goldmann, Ryan Kavanaugh, Brett Ratner / Script: Marc Klein, Jason Keller, Melisa Wallack / Cinematographer: Brendan Galvin / Editors: Robert Duffy, Nick Moore / Cast: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, Ronald Lee Clark / © 2012 UV RML NL Assets LLC. / Photograph: Jan Thijs / Image courtesy: Relativity Media

Surreal landscapes

Forests and fields are one of the most common fairytale settings, a magical realm outside of our normal experience. We’re finalising Patricia Piccinini’s otherworldly installation  Celestial Field 2021 — a canopy of nearly 3000 ‘genetically modified’ blooms, forming an inverted garden in the sky sheltering a collection of fragile creatures beneath. 

Installing Patricia Piccinini’s Celestial Field 2021 / Photograph: C Baxter © QAGOMA
Patricia Piccinini, Australia b.1965 / Enchanted Field (detail) 2023 / Sculptural works / Collection: Patricia Piccinini / © Patricia Piccinini / Photograph: C Baxter © QAGOMA

Enchanting forests

Brazilian sculptor Henrique Oliveira is in Brisbane transforming the ‘Fairy Tale’ entrance into a gnarled and twisted woodland. Corupira 2023 incorporates found tree branches, sustainably sourced plywood and strips of tapumes veneer salvaged from construction sites in Brazil. You will definitely be stepping into the woods with this installation.

Brazilian sculptor Henrique Oliveira creating Corupira 2023 commissioned for the exhibition ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Brisbane 2023

Henrique Oliveira’s Corupira (detail) 2023 during installation at GOMA, Brisbane / Photography: C Callistemon & C Baxter © QAGOMA

Wild Things

Many furred creatures inhabit the world of fairytales, a highlight of the ‘Fairy Tale’ exhibition includes Maurice Sendak’s iconic images from his 1963 book Where the Wild Things Are and costumes by the Jim Henson Creature Shop for the 2009 film adaptation. Here, conservator Michael Marendy is making final adjustments to the display.

Installing Carol’s costume from Where the Wild Things Are (2009) / Spike Jonze (director) United States b.1969, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (designer) United States est. 1979 / Synthetic fur, synthetic hide, synthetic feathers, acrylic, cotton, latex, foam, polystyrene, nylon, lycra, polyvinyl chloride, speakers, animatronic power cables, plugs, fans, gyrostabiliser, cameras, video monitor / Collection: Warner Brothers Archives, Los Angeles / Photograph: C Callistemon © QAGOMA

Golden coaches

A horse drawn gilded carriage is synonymous with the world of fairytales it’s the chosen mode of transport for any princess. For those who love magic, fantasy, and happy endings, this sumptuous stagecoach created from crystalised rock sugar by Timothy Horn is a must-see. Conservator Elizabeth Thompson is checking all is well with the delicate artwork before the opening.

Conservator Elizabeth Thompson adding the final touches to Timothy Horn Mother-load 2008, a sumptuously embellished stagecoach created from crystalised rock sugar.

Other worlds

Now installed and on view in the Gallery’s foyer are 15 works from contemporary American and Spanish artists Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz’s ongoing ‘Travelers’ series of snow globes, each contains a unique but disorienting tale devised by the artists. These mesmerising snow globes will captivate you.

Installation view of Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz’s ongoing ‘Travelers’ series of snow globes / Photograph: J Ruckli © QAGOMA
Walter Martin, United States b.1953; Paloma Muñoz, Spain b.1965 / Traveler 263 2009 /Snow globe / 19 x 15.2 x 15.2cm / Purchased 2023 with funds from Tim Fairfax AC through the QAGOMA Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz / Photograph: J Ruckli © QAGOMA

Watch | Brisbane’s enchanting exhibition comes to GOMA this summer

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition is across the entire ground floor of the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane, Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024. ‘Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA.

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.

Elliott Murray is Senior Digital Marketing Officer, QAGOMA


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