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The Bowerbird and The Bride - Review

Home > Brisbane > Exhibitions | Fashion | Historic Houses | Unusual Events | Vintage and Retro
by Alison Muirhead (subscribe)
Doting grandmother and grey nomad who should join Volunteers Anonymous and is greatly in favour of a ten day week. So much to do, so little time.
Event: -
Take a trip down memory aisle in Australian bridal slippers

I was the third bride to wear my wedding dress and the only one to remain married forty-six years later. Third time lucky? As the dress was "something borrowed'', the only souvenirs of it are an offcut of the lace and my precious photos. My octogenarian sister still has her wedding dress as does daughter who turns 40 next year. Do you?

The bowerbird and the bride, marion boyce, old government house, brisbane
The 'fifties


marion boyce, the bowerbird and the bride, old government house, brisbane
Big sister's 'fifties accoutrements


The 'Seventies


Marion Boyce, the award-winning costume designer for Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries and The Dressmaker, has been a collector of garments which appeal to her since childhood. Some have been purchased, others donated. The donation which set her off on a collection which resulted in this exhibition was a number of period and vintage wedding dresses.

Late nineteenth century


This had her combing through the garments she already had to supplement her newly acquired bridal collection. It has resulted in an exhibition of over forty bridal gowns from 1880 to 1970 being shown in the architectural centrepiece of the QUT campus, Old Government House. The Old Government House curator, Dr Katie McConnel, describes the combination of this building and the collection as being the ideal marriage. And so it is.

The bowerbird and the bride, marion boyce, old government house, brisbane
Old Government House, Brisbane


Being representative of a history of around 100 years, what a tale these pieces could tell, be they dresses, headpieces, bouquets or other wedding accessories. Marion's imagination brings them to life through a mix of fact and fiction, that is, she has combined accoutrements from many different brides of a particular decade to tell a story with a complete ensemble.

The 'Thirties


The bowerbird and the bride, marion boyce, old government house, brisbane
Mum and Dad, 1932


Each period is well described and represented. The only decade that appeared to be missing was the 'sixties. I can help out with photos at least of my dear departed sister's wedding where I had my one and only gig as a bridesmaid. In at least one example, the bridal model is accompanied with a photo from that particular bride's wedding.

The bowerbird and the bride, marion boyce, old government house, brisbane
The Swinging 'Sixties


The bowerbird and the bride, marion boyce, old government house, brisbane
'Sixties Bridesmaid


Photographic Memory


The bowerbird and the bride, marion boyce, old government house, brisbane
Enter the twenty-first century


The most evocative of all the photos is that of a wartime bride with all of the wedding party in uniform. I noted that the bride's horseshoe was upside down, letting all her luck flow out. I wonder what became of all of the members of that happy group. When my neighbour presented me with an upside-down horseshoe to carry at my wedding, Mum demanded that I immediately right it with a few hasty stitches before carrying it up the aisle.

The bowerbird and the bride, marion boyce, old government house, brisbane
Wartime Memories


Take care


My preview of The Bowerbird and the Bride was conducted by The Bowerbird herself. If you would enjoy hearing Marion tell her story and the inspiration behind this magnificent collection, you can hear her in conversation with the Associate Curator, Christopher Salter, on the evening of August 8. A Behind the Seams tour is available on the evenings of July 19, August 2 and August 16. There is a charge for each of these events, but on Sunday July 22 you are invited to a free Wedding Garden Party for which guests dress for the occasion and self-cater. Information on these associated events can be found at www.ogh.qut.edu.au/whats-on/2018/bowerbird-bride.php

The bowerbird and the bride, marion boyce, old government house, brisbane
The Bowerbird, Marion Boyce


Don't be concerned by the crowds, which this exhibition is sure to generate. Tickets are dated and timed, with participants asked to arrive within 15 minutes of their designated time slot. Latecomers will have to wait until there is a suitable time to slot them into another session. This is an exhibition not to be missed. In the words of the mid twentieth-century radio serial, When a Girl Marries, it is for "those who are in love, and for those who can remember".

Take care
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Why? For those who are in love, and for those who can remember
When: On the half hour from 10am to 2pm daily except Aug 15
Phone: 07 3138 8005
Where: Old Government House, 2B George St, Brisbane
Cost: $26, Concession $23.50, Groups of 10 $20 each
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