What I wore: Behind the scenes

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know by now that I’m in the process of packing up to move to Ballarat.  After six years of living in my hometown of Benalla, I’m ready for a new adventure.  As Moving Day looms closer, I’m trying to take time out to visit some of my favourite places in town for the last time in a while.

One of the hidden gems of Benalla is our costume museum.  It’s tucked away in the tourist centre and it’s a haven for vintage-loving visitors.  It was a visit to this museum when I was in year seven that kindled my own fascination with vintage fashion.  The museum owns clothing and accessories that date all the way back to the 1700’s (older than Australia itself!) which are all carefully stored and cared for on site.  The display items change regularly, and on the Saturday I visited there was an exhibit of 1930’s evening wear in the secondary gallery. The main gallery was devoted to an exhibit of clothing owned by a woman named Margaret Richardson, who was a resident in Benalla until her passing two years ago.  Mrs Richardson was famed for her incredible passion for fashion and her expansive wardrobe.

To visit the exhibit I wanted something fun and comfortable, but still fashionable. I opted for a new swing dress that I was gifted by a friend, and monochrome accessories to compliment it.

I am wearing:


The two exhibitions were magnificent, and we took our time wandering through and marvelling at the beautiful garments. I was especially taken by a heavily beaded cape in shades of blue, purple and green that reminded me of a peacock.  As we moved through the museum, one of the curators struck up a conversation with us about a display of shoes.  After chatting with her for some time, she asked whether we’d be interested in coming out the back of the museum to see the archives.  I nearly clapped with glee.  I’ve been to the museum so many times but I’ve never seen the workroom or archives. And being that I love vintage fashion, you can imagine how exciting this prospect was.

We were taken out the back to the workroom. The centrepiece of the room was a large sewing table, spread with fabric and folders filled with reference photographs.  On a tall sewing form was a forest-green skirt, which our guide explained was a riding skirt from the 1800’s that was in the process of being repaired and restored.  A large cabinet housed bottles of buttons, bolts of thread and all manner of fastenings and trims.

The archive room was our next stop, and it was honestly one of the most astonishing things I’ve seen in my life.  Shelves reached from the floor to the ceiling, each one stacked with slim white boxes. Each box was meticulously labelled with the contents, which ranged from dresses to suits to blouses and even children’s clothing.  Another wall housed a mountain of hatboxes, all similarly labelled and yet another was stacked with boxes of shoes.  Along the far wall was a rail upon which hung evening dresses and furs, again all labelled and carefully wrapped in linen.  I was taken aback by the array of historical garments that were being held here, and it moved me to see them all stored with such care and reverence.  It’s clear to see how much the museum workers care about preserving these items and ensuring that they are properly restored and cared for.  It was nothing short of amazing and I left feeling somewhat awed.

The costume museum has long been a favourite place of mine to visit, but until that day I truly had no idea of the scale of the collection or the dedication of the curators who work to run the museum.  It’s quite fantastic to learn that something so special has been happening right under my nose for all the years that I’ve been attending the exhibits there.  I feel like I got a peek into Santa’s workshop, and I have such respect for the people who have worked so hard to run the museum and preserve these flashes of fashion history.

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Wall to Wall Festival 2017

Art and culture aren’t things that one typically associates with country towns.  But that couldn’t be further from reality when one considers my hometown of Benalla, Victoria.  Benalla not only has an awesome art gallery and a stellar performing arts centre, but it is the home to the annual Wall to Wall street art festival.

 

Now in it’s third year, Wall to Wall is responsible for some incredible pieces of artwork that are dotted around the town.  Last week, artists began staking out their spots and sketching.  On Saturday I took my camera for a walk to take a look at the works in progress.

 

This year’s offerings are varied and colourful, with a number of amazing 3D pieces included in the mix.  If you have the means to travel to Benalla one weekend, I suggest you do so and take a long walk and gaze upon the amazing works of art that are dotted around the walls and pavements of this town.

 

As part of the festival, The Wall to Wall committee organized a giant community paint-by-numbers.  Everyone was invited to come along and join in to create an amazing painting.  Sadly, I’d forgotten that this was taking place and I was a tad too dressed up to muck in with the painters.  I wish that I’d worn jeans instead so that I could have joined in the fun.

 

 

Do you have a favourite piece?

 

 

 

The Benalla Mural

We had a slew of gorgeous days last week, which piqued my motivation to take some photos around town.  Since I moved back to the country at the start of the year, I’ve been keen to share some of the special places in my hometown with you.  I’ve already written about our beautiful Rose Garden and the Art Gallery.  Today, I’m going to take you on a little tour of the Benalla Mural.

The mural sits on the foreshore of the lake, on the opposite side to the Art Gallery.  From the top of the mural, you can see the bridge that joins the two halves of the town, the gallery, the swimming pool and the botanical gardens.

The ceramic mural was built in 1983, and has had a series of facelifts and improvements since then.  It’s a beautiful place to visit.  When I was a teenager, I would bring my book down here after school to read.  Sometimes, Ross and I would take a picnic lunch and eat it while sitting in the ceramic seats that are carved into the side of the mural.

See that little hole in the wall over there?  It’s a crawl-space, barely big enough for a child to fit into.  It has a sky-light that’s built in to the top deck of the mural.  I tried to climb into it to take some photos, but I’m just too big!  So I stuck my camera through the hole, snapped away and hoped for the best.

This here is a thongaphone.  What you’re supposed to do is remove your thong (of flip-flop, depending on which part of the world you’re from), and bang it against the tubes.  It makes a very odd sound.  Sadly, on the day I visited the mural I was wearing boots, so I couldn’t give you a demonstration.

There are all kinds of mosaics at the mural.  I like these little birds, which are dotted about all over the place.

This is the roof of one of the under-cover portions of the mural.

The mural is a really fun place to explore.  It’s a nice spot to bring a picnic and there are plenty of great spots to take photos.  If you’re ever in Benalla, I recommend checking it out.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek at one of my hometown’s most fascinating places.