Acclaimed theatre devisor/director/designer Kim Carpenter AM will exhibit 26 major artworks in response to Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince, the classic story of The Prince and The Little Swallow, at Sydney’s ARO Gallery from 13 – 25 October 2020.
Carpenter recently adapted The Happy Prince for The Australian Ballet in collaboration with renowned choreographer Graeme Murphy. Carpenter also designed the stage sets and costumes. The production premiered at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane in February 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Australian Ballet was forced to cancel its August season at Arts Centre Melbourne and the upcoming November-December season at the Sydney Opera House.
Oscar Wilde’s immortal tale of love and sacrifice, tenderness and joy – combined with the creative journey of making a new full-length ballet with collaborators – choreographer, Graeme Murphy, and composer Christopher Gordon – fuelled Carpenter’s inspiration to create this suite of exquisite watercolour paintings.
Kim Carpenter Founder & Artistic Director of Theatre of Image (TOI) for 30 years. In 2019, TOI celebrated three successful decades of extraordinary theatre productions. Kim then closed the company to pursue more personal projects and collaborations. This exhibition and his collaboration with The Australian Ballet Company are two of them.
“It has been a joy to harness all my visual references from Wilde’s book and the process of creating and designing the ballet in order to reinvent them so as to tell the story in a purely visual form to be experienced in an art gallery,” said Kim Carpenter. “So, the lockdown has allowed me an absorbing, driven, creative period.”
Carpenter’s images are imaginative and whimsical, playful l and atmospheric. They reflect Wilde’s wit, poetry and social commentary. The Happy Prince’s observations of struggle and survival, the disparity between the rich and the poor, are equally relevant today.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the divisions in society that Wilde wrote about in his story in 1888.
Kim Carpenter: The Happy Prince
ARO Gallery, 51 William Street, Darlinghurst
Exhibition: 13 – 25 October 2020
Image: Kim Carpenter in his studio, 2019 (supplied)