A whimsical journey through a kaleidoscope of colour
A stunning new exhibition opened at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) on 17 October, exclusively designed for children.
Curated by contemporary Sydney based designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, the amazing duo behind fashion house Romance Was Born have developed a wonderful and whimsical display awash with vibrancy and interaction that will make it hard for any visitor to leave in a hurry.
Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales of Romance was Born. Image from the book Express Yourself! An Activity Book for Kids by Romance Was Born, NGV Publications
Express Yourself proves to be a true feast for the eyes, where the two designers have reached into the depths of their own childhood memories, threading together tales from the Australian bush of long lost billabongs, bush magic and rainbows.
Enter either side you wish but if you choose to begin your journey from the right, you will enter Rainbowland, a beautiful collection of memorable items arranged by colour, bought together using NGV artworks as well as items you may remember from your own Australian childhood such as Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Milo tins, Ninja Turtles and vegemite jars. It is here your children will begin to start their own artistic journey, using little fingers to draw freestyle artworks on a number of iPads installed into each colour sector.
Rainbowland, Express Yourself: Romance Was Born for Kids @ NGV
Moving into the centre space of the gallery, and you will enter an interactive "Bush Magic" room with a fluorescent billabong projected onto the floor where your children can chase frogs and fish as you admire a stunning collection of wall-mounted animal artwork.
Romance Was Born invited various artistic collaborators to contribute to the exhibition, including Del Kathryn Barton, Kate Rohde, Nell, Benja Harney and Sarah Contos, using their creative vision to compliment the art space.
It is here, in the exhibition's centre space, that you see Del Kathryn Barton's extraordinarily breathtaking 2m painting of a kangaroo and her joey, "We will ride 2014" influenced by Barton's own childhood growing up in the Australian bush.
The "make and do" room places an emphasis on creative fashion play, where children are invited to embellish their own Romance Was Born-inspired paper necklace or beard using coloured self adhesive jewels and pom-poms.
Your kids can check out their finished fashion creation in a dressing room set-up, complete with lighted mirrors in amongst a collage of magazine style images from Romance Was Born fashion shows pasted to each wall. Snippets of Plunkett and Sales fashion career can be seen here, in videos played on a wall-mounted TV.
Mirrors to check out your completed fashion creation
Not forgetting this is an exhibition mixing art and creativity with fashion, Express Yourself also offers onlookers with the chance to see works from Romance Was Born's past and present collections, with a focus on trademark collaborations and creative themes that convey their fashion practice.
Romance was Born designed Gown on display at Express Yourself
In the dark and mysterious "Tomb Room", you are not only introduced to a neon wrapped mummy displayed in a glass case, but the design duo also reveal their latest collection, featuring neon coloured shoes, pixie boots and wigs.
Neon wrapped Mummy in the dark and mysterious Tomb Room
To compliment the exhibition, the NGV have released a children's activity book Express Yourself! featuring images of Romance Was Born's collections, as well as drawing and making activities to inspire young readers. Available to buy at a very reasonable $14.95 from the NGV Shop. View sample pages of Express Yourself! book here.
Express Yourself! Activity Book for Kids by Romance Was Born, NGV Publications
Prepare to leave Express Yourself: Romance Was Born For Kids with your mind blown from an explosion of colour and take whimsical journey through eccentricity and childhood memory. Even if you don't have children to take with you, visit Express Yourself anyway and appreciate how this amazingly talented Australian design duo have manifested an exhibition which combines fashion with art in a beautiful and creative way.
Express Yourself: Romance Was Born for Kids is on display at NGV International from 17 October 2014 to 22 March 2015. Open 10am-5pm, 7 days. FREE entry.