Tag Archives: National Gallery of Australia


Sixteen metres of tulle. A creation by Megan Canning Designs. Image: Martin Ollman.

You could feel their hearts beat. The hearts, that is, of the models wearing voluminous, long gowns at FASHFEST last Friday night (19 Oct). They weren’t just wearing magnificent pieces, they were wearing them while on the long, moving escalators in the foyer of the National Gallery that formed part of the overall runway.

How tricky was it? Consider this. One gown was created with a whopping 150 metres of tulle.

Would the fabric get caught? It didn’t and the show was nothing short of majestic.

Model: Kahu Kapea from HAUS Models.

‘The nature of this event meant we simply couldn’t go out for a broad model casting as we have in some other years,’ said Andrea Hutchinson who co-founded FASHFEST and who is also the event’s Model Director. ‘We needed experienced models who could not just walk in such large gowns, but handle them gracefully on moving escalators, first going down and then going up. It was tricky, especially entering and exiting the escalators. The models had to maneouvre them without interrupting the flow of the show or getting the garments caught.’

Another graceful gown by Megan Canning Designs. Image: Doug Hall, Studio Vita

FASHFEST is ‘changing it up’ and this was its first full show at a cultural institution. The event sold out, with VIP seats going first. Even the standing room upstairs at the top of the escalator was packed with guests staring down over the models for a very different perspective indeed.

The event started with Megan Canning Designs, with the showstopper, 16-metre tulle gown. It was breathtaking watching model Kahu Kapea, from HAUS Models, manage the gown while walking to the cool tunes of zares, Canberra DJ and electronic dance producer. And it wasn’t just Kahu who had to manage massive mounds of fabric. Many other models did too.

Super model Anneliese Seubert (l) with young designer Charly Thorn, walking the finale.

Next up was the evening luxe collection by young designer Charly Thorn, with legendary model Anneliese Seubert modelling an elegant long silk dress which Charly has fondly called the ‘Anneliese Dress’. Charly designed the bold black and white pattern, called ‘stargaze’, and had it printed in Sydney. Some solid pieces in the collection were made from wool and they all popped—pinks, yellows, greens and blues.

Charly Thorn’s new collection pops with colour.

Last, but not least, appeared the collection by Hajar Gala Couture, each piece exquisitely detailed. This is true couture. It takes ages for Hajar to design, fit and make each of her luxury gowns.

Hajar Gala Couture. Image: Martin Ollman.

Pre-show, guests gathered upstairs for a ‘Quandong Paint Cocktail’, created by Archie Rose for FASHFEST and inspired by Lichtenstein’s brushstrokes. As soon as the drink is swirled, the Quandong Paint leeches into it, changing the flavor from a simple gin old fashioned into a native peachy delight.

Models gracing moving escalators–a tricky business indeed, says FASHFEST’s Andrea Hutchinson. Image: Jack Mohr.

Pre and post-show, guests were entertained by Simon Anau while getting up close to a small exhibition of gowns by the three designers, to see just how much work goes into each one.

The National Gallery of Australia was a magnificent backdrop for the first ‘change it up’ event for FASHFEST. So what’s next? Clint Hutchinson says planning is well underway for the next major FASHFEST event in December and Canberrans might just see FASHFEST pop up in-between.

For exclusive updates and special offers, sign up to FASHFEST’s newsletter: www.fashfest.com.au

The Quandong Paint Cocktail created for FASHFEST by Archie Rose. Image: Martin Ollman.

Models from Devojka Models, Victoria’s Models and HAUS Models. Hair for the event led by Craig Rhodes using Sachajuan. MUA was led by Katie Saarikko, using Harlotte Cosmetics. The FASHFEST photography team is led by Leighton Hutchinson Photography.

Couture on the catwalk

Hajar Gala Couture. Image taken by Leighton Hutchinson Photography for FASHFEST at the NGA. Models (from left): Hellena from Devojka Models, and Emma from HAUS Models.

Ever since she was young, Hajar Gala has adored glorious gowns—elegant, beautifully designed and wonderfully crafted gowns. Today, the fashion designer is one of Australia’s most creative couturiers, running two busy ateliers for discerning women, one here in Canberra (Griffith shops) and one recently opened in Melbourne.

Hajar Gala Couture will present glorious gowns tomorrow night at the National Gallery of Australia as FASHFEST rolls out the first in a series of ‘change-it-up’ fashion events.

‘I believe that no matter how many times one redefines style, classical simplicity and charm can never be outdated,’ says Hajar, whose bespoke creations are carefully thought through from the first sketch, to the final fitting and then finishing touches.

Couturier Hajar Gala

Hajar formally trained in the French couture method at the International Fashion Academy in Europe, learning to meticulously place every stitch. ‘The traditional couture techniques emphasise design but also quality of construction,’ says Hajar. ‘The end result is a timeless treasure that holds its place in the world of luxury.’

At FASHFEST, Hajar will showcase 10 pieces, including some bridal and evening wear designs that first appeared in a collection at Paris Fashion Week (never before seen in Canberra). Models will bring the gowns to life, as they work their way down one of the massive escalators in the foyer of the NGA, and then along the runway and back up the opposite escalator.

Hajar’s gowns have also graced runways in other prestigious fashion shows internationally, including at Milan Fashion Week. Models are from Canberra’s top three agencies—Victoria’s Models, Devojka Models and HAUS Models.

One of Hajar’s creations. On location at Lake George. Image: Leighton Hutchinson Photography. Model: Courtney from HAUS Models.

‘I love the romance of the fine lines and beaded silhouettes of the 1920’s Jazz Age through to Old Hollywood glamour of the glorious 1950s,’ says Hajar, ‘and often reflect these in gowns, using only the best fabrics, all carefully sourced.’

Guests will also get up close to four other Hajar Gala Couture gowns in an exhibition FASHFEST will present tomorrow night and they can do so while sipping on special Quandong paint stroke’ cocktail, created by Archie Rose for FASHFEST and the NGA. Pieces by the two other designers in the show—Megan Cannings Designs and Charly Thorn—will also form part of the exhibition.

Hajar’s work has been extensively covered internationally, including in prestigious publications such as Collezioni Haute Couture. A shoot she did with Canberra’s Leighton Hutchinson, of Leighton Hutchinson Photography, and Courtney, from HAUS, appeared in the magazine. The shoot took place at Lake George.

Only a few seats are left for tomorrow night’s shows so snap one up if you’re keen. Standing room tickets are also available at only $35. The first show is 6.30 for a 7pm start and the second show (repeated) is 8 for an 8.30 start. http://www.fashfest.com.au/tickets


The new style of FASHFEST

The FASHFEST folks have been quiet for a while but definitely not idle. It’s taken months of careful planning, but Canberra’s largest annual red-carpet event has just released its new style for 2018.

‘Change. It. Up.’ sums up what FASHFEST will roll out starting 19 October, with a prestigious launch show at the National Gallery of Australia. It’s a perfect fit. Beautiful fashion—gowns and glam cocktail attire to be precise—in a beautiful building surrounded by beautiful art. Does it get any better than that?

So what do the new ‘Change. It. Up.’ plans involve?

‘This year we’re hosting specialised shows in new venues, including iconic institutions and buildings of cultural and historic significance,’ says Clint Hutchinson, who co-founded FASHFEST with his wife Andrea, ‘These places are unique to Canberra and make the capital so special. We want guests to experience them in a new light.’

At the NGA, guests will view fashion never before seen in Canberra, by three designers selected for how their aesthetic fits with the NGA’s architecture. Models will grace the catwalk with bring to life collections by Hajar Gala Couture, Megan Cannings Designs and Charly Thorn Designs.

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Hajar Gala Couture, on the catwalk at FASHFEST 2017. Image: Jack Mohr

The same show will repeat twice at the NGA (same evening) and then the FASHFEST team will bunker down to finalise exciting plans for shows in December and February.

Hajar Gala, the principal designer behind Hajar Gala Couture, will present exquisitely detailed bridal and evening gowns, some of which she showed at Paris Fashion Week.  Hajar trained formally in the French couture method at the International Fashion Academy. In addition to her Canberra atelier, she has recently opened in Melbourne.


Frills and more frills. Gown by Megan Cannings Design at FASHFEST 2017, National Convention Centre Canberra. Image: Doug Hall, Studio Vita

Fashion designer Megan Cannings, who has just returned from New York Fashion Week, will present pieces she put on the runway in the US. This is Megan’s third year at FASHFEST. Official event photography pushed out through social media was spotted by those behind NYFW and other major shows, and Megan was subsequently invited to showcase nationally and internationally.

‘FASHFEST is my favorite fashion show to participate in,’ says Megan. ‘The models are on the catwalk longer and the team behind the event is so professional and easy to work with.’

The youngest designer to ever participate in FASHFEST is Charly Thorn from Cooma, who was just 17 when she presented her first collection at the event. The collection included a stunning piece worn by super model Anneliese Seubert. The audience stood and gave Charly a massive round of applause.


Charly Thorn’s resort wear collection, FASHFEST 2017. Image: Doug Hall, Studio Vita

Last year, Charly focused on resort wear at FASHFEST and this year it’s cocktail glam. Charly has also showcased internationally since her initial involvement in FASHFEST.

‘FASHFEST’s model has always been to change things up periodically to keep fashion fans coming back for more,’ says Andrea. ‘We loved being at the Canberra Airport all rugged up in winter in a small industrial space and we loved the glamour and magic of being at the National Convention Centre Canberra. Now it’s time to change it up once more.’

For exclusive updates and special offers, sign up to FASHFEST’s newsletter: www.fashfest.com.au Tickets on sale soon.

Credit top image: Co-founders of FASHFEST, Clint and Andrea Hutchinson.


The two escalators in the National Gallery of Australia foyer were transformed into towering runways as FASHFEST presented a fashion pop-up to build hype around the 2017 event with opening night this week, 28 September. One by one last Saturday, models posed at the top of an escalator and slowly glided down to the main foyer before walking before guests and stopping before the photographer’s scrum. Then it was slowly back up the second escalator.

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Megan Cannings Designs (black dress), Model: Mariè Strazdins, MUA: Lydia Curtis, Photo: Jack Mohr

By design, the fashion at the pop-up was eclectic. The first and last models appeared in showstopper gowns by De Challie Haute Couture—gowns never seen in public and soon to be sent to Paris Fashion Week. Exquisite beading and detailing is De Challie’s signature. These are hand-made gowns that dreams are made of. Award winning De Challie will showcase sophisticated, exquisite gowns made of the finest fabrics and meticulous detail on the FASHFEST catwalk on Friday night.


De Challie Haute Couture, Model: Sarah O’Neill, MUA Alexandra Watson, Photo: Sparking Weddings

Other gowns were created by Megan Cannings Designs, a full electric blue layered skirt paired with a silver glittery top and a black ruffled outfit with sexy see-through elements. Megan’s designs embody the feminine form using soft, easy wearing fabrics. Megan is based in Sydney and this will be her second appearance at FASHFEST.

Two pieces of innovative bridal wear by Gabrielle Spencer Bridal popped up at the National Gallery of Australia, showing how the designer casts aside traditional ball gowns for pieces that are modern and refreshingly elegant. This is Gabrielle Spencer Bridal’s debut appearance at FASHFEST. Her aesthetic is influenced by bridal fashion of the 1920s to 1950s and Gabrielle uses luxurious fabrics, including pure silks, cashmere and French lace. At FASHFEST, she will collaborate with Christine Waring Milliner.

Thunder Thighs FF_NGA_0124

Thunder Thighs, Model: Lamishi Dauda, MUA: Mikaela Thompson, Photo: Sparkling Weddings

Three pieces were presented at the pop-up by Bianca Pavlic The Label who makes a debut appearance at FASHFEST this year. She will appear on the catwalk twice, once in her own show and also in a segment curated by Raw Australia. Bianca’s creates unique, beautiful and feminine garments, all hand made in her Canberra home studio.

The shimmery silver number at the pop-up was designed by Yumi Morrissey of Zilpah tart. Yumi’s spring-summer 2017 collection features new necklines, some special occasion pieces and more. After FASHFEST, Yumi will sell her new collection at Floriade.


One of the most intriguing creations at the NGA was by Bronwynne Jones of Thunder Thighs, a new independent Canberra label who will debut at FASHFEST on opening night. Bringing back the bustle, Bronwynne’s hand-made garment was created with a recovered jacket and embellished with waste and recovered fabric. Ties and tie linings left over from the Infinity scarves Bronwynne makes were folded and twisted with other fabric scraps for a modern take on the bustle.

Karen Lee is a veteran of the FASHFEST catwalk. Her creation at the pop-up was used for pre-event publicity. It featured a black jacket she made from a garment that appeared at FASHFEST several years ago and a brilliant red oversized tulle skirt.


L-R: Lamishi Dauda (Thunder Thighs); Sarah O’Neill (Bianca Pavlic The Label); Kelsi-Jane Hedges (De Challie Haute Couture); Mariè Strazdins (Zilpah tart); Toya Bakoles (Gabrielle Spencer Bridal); Samara Purnell (Bianca Pavlic The Label). Photo: Sparkling Weddings

The pop-up was also a prelude to the NGA’s upcoming summer blockbuster Hyper Real. The hair and makeup was as inspirational as the wonderful artworks in Hyper Real. Led by FASHFEST’s Director of Makeup, Diana Cheetham, the artists were given free rein to make masterpieces. Looks ranged from a princess look made of gold leaf and glitter, a Japanese inspired look and bold black line work.

FASHFEST opens this Thursday 28 September with Show 1 at 7am. The full program and tickets are available on their website. Opening 20 October, Hyper Real charts the evolution of hyperrealism since the early 1970s through a jaw-dropping display of renderings of the human form in sculpture, video, digital art, virtual reality and bio-art.

An Amazing Body of Work!

Bodywork: Australian Jewellery 1970 – 2012

It’s on and it’s worth a visit. A fascinating exhibition, Bodywork: Australian Jewellery 1970–2012, has opened its doors to the public here in the capital. This unique and must-see travelling exhibition showcases the work of 42 of the country’s most influential, contemporary jewellery designers. By Wendy Johnson.


Sunrise and shade, brooch 1981, by Elizabeth Olah. Using sterling silver, 18 carat gold, porcelain, and opal National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Crafts Board Collection donated by the Australia Council 1982

Sunrise and shade, brooch 1981, by Elizabeth Olah. Using sterling silver, 18 carat gold, porcelain, and opal
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Crafts Board Collection donated by the Australia Council 1982

Bodywork has worked its way through five states, inspiring and intriguing thousands of visitors, and has now come home for its last show. Even though the collection is owned by the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), the exhibition is at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre, as part of its outreach program. Each piece of jewellery in Bodywork was hand-selected by Dr Robert Bell AM, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, NGA, who wanted to ‘inspire, intrigue and inform’. The work is beautifully displayed in six specially designed cases.

And Canberra can hold its head high. Four jewellery designers from here were selected for Bodywork; Robert Foster, of Fink + Co, Simon Cottrell, Head of the Gold and Silversmithing Workshop at ANU, both Accredited Professional Members of Craft ACT, and Helen Aitken-Kuhnen and Johannes Kuhnen of Bilk Gallery in Manuka.The jewellery is grouped under six themes— Romanticism, Interpreting the Vernacular, Encapsulating Nature, Technics, Social Message, and Sculpture for the Body. All pieces come from the NGA’s jewellery collection, which is the largest collection in the country.

Sheep, pendant c.1979 sterling silver, carved quartz by Eléna Gee National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Crafts Board Collection donated by the Australia Council 1982

The diversity of design, materials and technique used to design and create each piece in this stunning collection is fascinating and so too is the short film featuring Dr Bell, which provides deeper insights. Pieces include brooches, arm bands, lockets, rings, bangles, and pendants created out of a wide range of materials such as gold, sterling silver, copper, coral, aluminium and polypropylene.


Image left: Sheep, pendant c.1979
sterling silver, carved quartz by Eléna Gee
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Crafts Board Collection donated by the Australia Council 1982



Some pieces will take you by surprise, like Brenda Ridgewell’s Space edifice armband (2002), made of silver and carat gold. Brenda’s jewellery is architectural in form and often articulated and adjustable, allowing it move with the body.

Brenda Ridgewell Space edifice, armband 2002 by Brenda Ridgewell, using 925 silver and 9 carat gold National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 2003

Space edifice, armband 2002 by Brenda Ridgewell, using 925 silver and 9 carat gold
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 2003

The superb Ocean blue necklace, by Canberra’s Helen Aitken-Kuhnen, is made with finely crushed glass mixed with other materials to form a paste. The glass paste is then put into a mould and heated to fuse it together.

Ocean blue, necklace 2009 in sterling silver, cast glass pâte-de-verre, and stainless steel by Helen Aitken-Kuhnen National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 2009 with funds from the Meredith Hinchliffe Fund

Craft ACT was a natural fit for the last show of Bodywork. “The National Gallery and Craft ACT are both the same age, having opened in the 1970s,” says Dr Bell. “Craft ACT has been part of the national scene for a long time. It’s appropriate that Bodywork’s final showing is in its home town and with our friend CraftAC.”


Image right: Ocean blue, necklace 2009 in sterling silver, cast glass pâte-de-verre, and stainless steel by Helen Aitken-Kuhnen
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased 2009 with funds from the Meredith Hinchliffe Fund.




Bodywork: Australian jewellery 1970–2012 is on until Saturday 24 October 2015.

Also showing at the same time at Craft ACT Gallery is Table Tools, a solo exhibition by gold and silversmith Alison Jackson, who is also Craft ACT Accredited Professional Member.



By Wendy Johnson

Who doesn’t love gorgeous ceramics? Bold and bright, cool and comfortable, smooth or rough textured; ceramics can be treasured functional home-wear or a stunning piece of object d’art, and you can find all this and more at the Market Place at the National Gallery of Australia on Sunday 12 July as part of the prestigious Stepping-Up Australian Ceramics Triennale 2015. Here is sneak peek of what’s on offer this Sunday.

Rich gold by Johanna DeMaine

Rich gold by Johanna DeMaine (image courtesy artist)

Market Place is dedicated entirely to ceramics and is presented in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia, hosted in Gandel Hall.  Selected local and national artists will present their work to ceramics enthusiasts and collectors during this exciting event. Visitors will be delighted with a wide range of unique functional products for the home as well as stunning exhibition and sculptural pieces to add to their collections.

'Flower Pots' by Stephanie Hammill

‘Flower Pots’ by Stephanie Hammill (image courtesy artist)

Beautiful Waratah bowl by Denise McDonald

Beautiful Waratah bowl by Denise McDonald (image courtesy artist)

Gandel Hall all is a majestic, multipurpose venue. It is spacious, light-filled and exquisitely detailed with gold-leaf doors and red, iron bark floors, and opens onto the new Australian Garden in which James Turrell’s monumental sky-space offers guests an extraordinary experience of Canberra’s picturesque skies.

National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery of Australia

In conjunction with Market Place, the Gallery will be offering two free guided tours of Australian Decorative Arts at 12pm and 2pm on Sunday.

Collection by Mollie Bosworth

Collection by Mollie Bosworth (image courtesy artist)

Media: https://www.facebook.com/SteppingUpAustralianCeramicsTriennalefref=ts  





Canberra’s Unique Ceramic Experience!

The creativity of ceramics will soon be celebrated in Canberra across four days in July, when the capital hosts the prestigious Australian Ceramics Triennale.  For Canberrans and visitors alike, this is a unique (and wonderful) opportunity to see the works of some of Australia’s best ceramicists as well as many from around the world. More than 35 free public exhibitions will take place across the city in Stepping Up, the name of the 2015 Triennale (9 to 11 July). By Wendy Johnson

Stunning ceramic bowl by Johanna DeMaine

Stunning ceramic bowl with precious metals by Johanna DeMaine

Avi Amesbury, CEO/Artistic Director at Craft ACT—herself a ceramicist—says this is Australia’s premier ceramics event and the last time Canberra hosted it was in the 1980s. Although the conference component of the Triennale is an opportunity for high-end ceramicists to get serious about expanding their skills and ideas, through presentations, panel discussions and workshops, the Triennale offers a great deal for the public.

Much of Trenna Langdon's work explores the colours and texture of the Canberra region

Much of Trenna Langdon’s work explores the colours and texture of the Canberra region

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