This design model represents the 'Ferris Wheel' that appeared in 'Tin Symphony', a theatrical segment in the Opening Ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games. Designed by Dan Potra, this was a large circular structure that featured a series of horizontal bars for gymnastic routines. Around one dozen gymnasts performed on the Ferris Wheel - their movement represented the mechanics of an agricultural machine and reiterated the theme of 'human power'. Both the model and the full-scale structure were made at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh.
Potra's concepts drew upon the imaginative artwork of Heath Robinson (1872-1944), an English illustrator who devised many whimsical and impractical inventions. (Copies of Robinson's work also feature in the Sydney 2000 Games Collection.) This sense of whimsy pervades Potra's prop designs as well as the greater, Tin Symphony theme. Along with this model, the full-scale prop was manufactured at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh.
Described by the NSW premier Bob Carr as 'the greatest spectacle Australia has produced', the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay on Friday 15 September 2000. Though the ceremony featured anthems, speeches, oaths, flags, pop singers and a marching band, its daring conceptual sequences ('Deep Sea Dreaming', 'Awakening', 'Nature', 'Tin Symphony', 'Arrivals' and 'Eternity') will be remembered as the major imaginative works. Each segment commenced without interruption, following on from the last to form an overall narrative. The purpose was to project a national image to a worldwide audience, to form the world's vision of Australian culture. This image embraced tolerance, social progress, multiculturalism and reconciliation, as well as nature, history and creativity. Designed to stimulate emotional responses from the audience, these segments delivered a refreshing mixture of youth, naivety and larrikinism.
The complex and inventive 'Tin Symphony' segment, directed by Nigel Jamieson, involved 850 performers. It examined the impact of Europeans' arrival on the land after 60,000 years of Aboriginal habitation. 'Tin Symphony' began with the arrival on the spectacular Endeavour cycle carrying a gently parodied Captain Cook and his crew (accompanied by a caged rabbit). It consisted of three linked tricycles, propelled by conventional bicycle pedals, with a total length of 11 metres and a height of 3 metres. The explorers carried telescopes and sketchbooks, looking in wonder at the unfamiliar flora and fauna.
As 'Tin Symphony' unfolded, the colonists brought new technologies and materials, symbolised by corrugated iron, metal windmills and steel farming machinery. Even Ned Kelly encased himself in metal, continuing the theme of mechanisation. The segment cleverly linked icons of colonial and rural Australia, such as Captain Cook, resourceful pioneers, Ned Kelly, Irish girls, a sheep-making machine, corrugated iron windmills, derricks, water tanks and farm machinery, with modern images of suburbia, lawn mowers and the beach. The segment had an implicit theme of the settlers' humour and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. It ended with the descendants of the settlers, the modern Australians, who has tamed and transformed the land, symbolised by the lawnmower ballet, a kind of serenade to suburbia, its backyards and barbecues.