Exclusive to Bendigo, curated by Bendigo Art Gallery in collaboration with Graceland, the exhibition will explore Elvis’ stellar career, his larger-than-life persona, lesser-known aspects of his early years, interests and personal life, and his radical sense of style.
In a major coup for Bendigo, the Gallery has been able to secure unprecedented access to the Graceland archives to present a comprehensive exhibition on arguably one of the world’s greatest and most popular artists.
Elvis: Direct from Graceland will feature around 300 authentic artifacts owned by Elvis Presley, direct from the icon’s Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee – including his military uniforms, his 1976 Red Bicentennial Custom Harley Davidson, and an amazing array of his famous jumpsuits – to personal items like Lisa Marie’s baby clothes, Elvis’ first job application and the 1st grade crayon box he took to school.
Visiting Australia for the first time ever is a bright red convertible 1960 MG from the movie Blue Hawaii, the only car from his films that Elvis actually owned and had brought to the Hawaii location to get around in his free time.
The exhibition will also feature many items that rarely travel beyond the Graceland gates, including Elvis’ wedding tuxedo and Priscilla’s wedding dress, two costumes from the acclaimed television performance known as the ‘68 Comeback Special, and garments from his eclectic home wardrobe.
Angie Marchese, Vice President Archives and Exhibits at Elvis Presley Enterprises, said she was delighted to work with Bendigo Art Gallery to present an exhibition about Elvis’ life in Australia.
“It is a great honor to work alongside the creative team at the Bendigo Art Gallery to bring this unprecedented, detailed and comprehensive look into Elvis’ life and career to Australia,” she said.
“While Elvis was never able to visit Australia himself, it brings us great pride at Graceland to know that his legacy and music lives on there. We look forward to sharing a glimpse into Elvis’ life with the fans in Australia,” said Ms Marchese.
Key periods in Elvis’ life and career will be covered, including his early years living in the ‘shotgun shack’ in Tupelo, Mississippi, his break-out Sun Studios hit, U.S. Army service, his time in Hollywood, his unforgettable ’68 Special performance, and the glamourous Vegas years.
The exhibition also moves beyond the familiar story of his musical and acting career to present his more private side – his devotion to his parents, his love of books, motorcycles, horses and karate and the haven he created in Graceland for his friends and family.
The exhibition includes garments and jewellery worn by Elvis throughout his life, personal items from Graceland, as well as vintage Elvisbranded merchandise, costumes and scripts from the Hollywood movies and much more.
Bendigo Art Gallery Director Jessica Bridgfoot said the Gallery was honoured to work closely with the archival team at Graceland to create a detailed account of Elvis’ life and career. “We are so excited to be able to bring this iconic collection to Australia at a time when international travel has been limited,” she said.
“This is the latest in the international series of exhibitions presented by Bendigo Art Gallery that pay homage to the great style icons of our recent history, including Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Balenciaga and Mary Quant.”
“What they each have in common is a focus on fashion and design, and this exhibition highlights Elvis’ trailblazing sense of style, the close working relationships he forged with designers such as Lansky Brothers and Bill Belew and his impact on 20th century visual culture,” said Ms Bridgfoot.
When Graceland opened in 1982, the archives for visitors to see and experience were very limited. The only display was the “Trophy Room” and very little was catalogued or preserved with museum quality guidelines.
The Presley’s weren’t hoarders, but they also didn’t get rid of many things they owned pre- or post-fame, including report cards, receipts and grocery store lists. Thankfully, most of their collection was somewhat organized and today all those documents, furniture, clothing and more are part of the famous Graceland Archives.
The Graceland Archives Department works diligently to preserve Elvis history – the collections of artifacts, documents, audio/visual and photographs. With only 10% of the Elvis items in the Graceland Archives on display, the collection consists of over 90,000 photographs, 5,000 textiles, hundreds of thousands of documents and a large collection of furniture, musical instruments, awards, automobiles, and other artifacts associated with the personal life and career of Elvis Presley.
The Archival staff works congruently with other departments within Elvis Presley Enterprises, as well as outside associations of designers, graphic artists, and architects to maintain, design and install all exhibition spaces on the Graceland campus.
Graceland’s archives of Elvis history also maintain the artifact collection of photographs, textiles, objects, film, video, tape, and documents that are currently in storage. An important function of this department is the tracking of the collection, as well as the creation of a complete digital catalog of the Elvis Presley Archives at Graceland.
It is also the job of the Archives staff to preserve and conserve the artifacts located in the Mansion and all other exhibits on the Graceland campus, we well as to create and oversee worldwide travelling exhibits.
The strict guidelines at the Graceland Archives help sustain the integrity of the exhibitions and collections of Elvis history. The preservation of these Elvis items will entertain and educate millions of people for years to come.
Elvis: Direct from Graceland
Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo
Exhibition: 19 March – 17 July 2022
Entry fees apply
For more information, visit: www.bendigoartgallery.com.au for details.
Image: Elvis Presley in the 1968 NBC television special, Singer Presents… Elvis, later known as the ‘Comeback Special’. Photograph: Fathom Events/CinEvents © EPE. Graceland and its marks are trademarks of EPE. All Rights Reserved. Elvis Presley™ © 2021 ABG EPE IP LLC.