Drawing on more than four decades of one of the most influential pairings in the history of Australian fashion, the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) presents Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise at the Powerhouse Museum until 22 March 2020.
Examining the influences, inspirations and the compelling stories behind their work, Step Into Paradise is the first in-depth survey that captures the dynamic energy of Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee’s creative partnership.
“We have a long and rich relationship with Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. We first acquired pieces from them in 1981 and we now hold the largest collection of their works,” said Lisa Havilah, Chief Executive Powerhouse Museum. “They have become an innate part of the visual language and identity of Australia and we are excited to be sharing their story.”
Honoured as Officers in the Order of Australia for their contributions to Australia’s fashion industry, the pair transformed the nation’s fashion and cultural heritage with their pioneering style inspired by Australia’s cultural and natural landscape, melded with their global influences.
The exhibition includes Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson’s individual formative years: Jenny in 1960s London working with Vern Lambert at the Chelsea Antique Market; Linda travelling the Pacific, Asia and Europe studying influences from Papua New Guinea to haute couture in Paris.
It traces their return to Australia and the beginning of their creative partnership in the 1970s with the Flamingo Park Frock Salon at Sydney’s Strand arcade and the sensational Flamingo Follies fashion parades, branching into their distinctive individual careers through to recent years including Jenny’s costume designs for the Sydney Olympic Games and their collaborations with Australian designers Romance Was Born.
Over 150 garments, textiles, photographs and artworks, many unseen, from the Museum’s own extensive collection are brought together with the designers’ personal archives. Highlight pieces on display include artwork from the pair and archival behind the scenes photographs, Jenny Kee’s black opal Chanel suit from Karl Lagerfeld’s first collection in 1983 and Linda Jackson’s iconic Waratah dress.
Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise is a unique experience where visitors are invited to be immersed into the fashion of these two artists. Objects will be displayed in environments reflecting the artists’ inspirations, from the Australian bush and Great Barrier Reef, to opals and waratahs.
“When I landed back in Australia in the 1970s, I was immediately hit with this new energy and vibrancy that I felt didn’t exist here when I left, and I wanted to celebrate this,” said Jenny Kee AO. “The sign on the door of the Flamingo Park Frock Salon was Step Into Paradise.”
“It was an invitation to visitors, to step into a fantastical and romantic world, full of beautiful things celebrating our environment. It was something Sydney had never seen before and we want to replicate this feeling with the exhibition,” added Kee.
“People often think that the cultural fashion movement in Australia started in the 1980s but it was before then,” said Linda Jackson AO. “There was such a pride in Australia when Jenny and I met, people were travelling back here because they wanted to be a part of this creative revolution.”
“We were proud of coming back and bringing all the influences and everything we had seen overseas back home. Jenny and I have been connected to the museum since the 1980s so it seems fitting that this is the place to tell our story,” added Jackson.
Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise
Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo (Sydney)
Exhibition continues to 22 March 2020
Entry fees apply
For more information, visit: www.maas.museum for details.
Image: Linda Jackson AO and Jenny Kee AO – photo by Hugh Stewart