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Powerhouse Unveils Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise

October 16, 2019

Image: Zan Winberley

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The Powerhouse Museum today unveiled Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step into Paradise, the first major in-depth survey of Australian designers and artists, Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, open from Thursday 17 October 2019.

Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise captures the dynamic energy of the designers and their creative partnership. It draws on more than four decades of one of the most influential pairings in the history of Australian fashion, examining the influences, inspirations and the compelling stories behind their work.

Over 150 garments, textiles, photographs and artworks from the Powerhouse’s own extensive collection are brought together with the designers’ personal archives. Visitors will experience a re-imagination of Jenny Kee’s Flamingo Park Frock Salon originally located at Sydney’s Strand arcade, where the creative partnership between Linda and Jenny began, and where they conceived their annual Flamingo Follies fashion parades.

Step into Paradise highlights the key influences in their creative practice including the Australian bush, Great Barrier Reef, opals and waratahs, branching into their distinctive individual careers through to recent years including Jenny’s costume designs for the Sydney Olympic Games and both designers collaborations with Australian designers Romance Was Born. The exhibition makes visible the dynamic creative energy of Sydney that has been present over generations.

Highlight pieces on display include a suit from Karl Lagerfeld’s first collection for Chanel in 1983 featuring Jenny Kee’s Black Opal print, Linda Jackson’s iconic flower-form Waratah dress, Kee’s Blinky koala jumper, a style famously worn by Diana, the Princess of Wales, a handpainted Gladioli dress by Jackson, worn by Marcia Hines, the spectacular ‘Frida Exotica’ costume designed by Jenny Kee for the arrivals section of the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Jackson’s ‘Glacier gown and Penguin coat’ worn in Antarctica by Nell Schofield for a Vogue Living assignment.

Step into Paradise has brought together some of the great creative talent of Sydney. The legendary Tony Assness is the Creative Director of the exhibition, working with the curatorial team of the Powerhouse Museum and Linda and Jenny to create Step Into Paradise. DJ Johnny Seymour and composer Nick Wales have curated the musical composition accompanying the exhibition, with lighting design by the award-winning Damian Cooper.

Jenny Kee AO said: ‘It’s been an incredible journey working with my friend Linda, and the Powerhouse to make this exhibition a reality. Similarly to when I opened the doors to Flamingo Park for the first time in 1973, it is with great excitement that we welcome visitors to step into this fantastical and romantic world we have created.”

Linda Jackson AO said: ‘With Step Into Paradise we have tried to capture the pride we felt for Australia when we returned in the 1970s and the way its unique environment has inspired us over the years. Jenny and I have always shared a love for colour, vibrancy, flora, fauna and the Bush, and we’ve aimed to bring this to life in our designs. We hope this exhibition will allow us to share this passion with our visitors.”

Creative Director Tony Assness said: “It was important to us that Step Into Paradise was an experience for the visitors. We want them to feel the excitement and energy that Linda and Jenny felt in the frock salon and when they started the Fashion Follies parades. We also wanted to encapsulate their passion for the Australian environments which have inspired so many of their designs over the years.”

Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, Romance Was Born, said: “Linda and Jenny are inspirations and mentors of ours. They transformed the cultural landscape with the sense of freedom, vibrancy and a passion for Australia which is seen in their work. This is something we’ve always been drawn to, and it’s great to see this shared with Sydney with this exhibition.”

Powerhouse Museum, Lisa Havilah, Chief Executive said: ‘The Powerhouse is dedicated to creating exhibitions that tell the great creative stories of Sydney and Australia. Step into Paradise demonstrates the incredible talent of Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to honour their creative legacies.”

The Powerhouse Museum, in consultation and collaboration with Jenny and Linda, have created unique new products celebrating the designers and the exhibition. Highlight products include a Step Into Paradise Silk Scarf, with specifically designed artwork; a canvas recreation of the original 70s Flamingo Park Boutique Bag.

The Step Into Paradise publication explores the pairs forty year creative partnership and includes chapters written by author Georgina Safe and contributions from key individuals who have known and collaborated with the designers. The book is published by Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Media and partners Thames & Hudson.

The free Fashion Ideas series curated by writer and academic Dr Sally Gray will run alongside the exhibition. The program, consisting of three talks running from the 24 October 2019 – 18 February 2020, will canvas the key concepts and rich social history embedded within the work of Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. Creative experts, academics and activists who will take part in the discussions include photographer William Yang, curator Jess Scully, artist and designer Frida Las Vegas and more.

A summer program of events will also run alongside Step Into Paradise and will be announced in November.

Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise Opens 17 October 2019
Included in admission to the Powerhouse museum
Media images available here

Creative team
Exhibition Curator: Glynis Jones
Creative Director: Tony Assness
Exhibition Designer: Jemima Woo
Music Curation and Composition: Jonny Seymour and Nick Wales
Lighting Design: Damien Cooper

Sasha Haughan 0405 006 035
Kym Elphinstone 0421 106 139