Colour abounds at Bendigo Art Gallery’s latest exhibition Marimekko: Design Icon 1951 to 2018.
The exhibition features more than 60 Marimekko designed outfits, swathes of original fabrics, homewares, sketches and other archival materials. The majority of items come from a touring exhibition curated by Helsinki’s renowned Design Museum. There are also a few items directly sourced from Marimekko’s head office in Finland. These include a couple of 2018 designed dresses.
Informative labels explain the history of Marimekko and its founder, Armi Ratia, and the works of some of the brand’s best known designers.
You’ll discover the fashion and textile design brand was founded in Helsinki by Viljo and Armi Ratia in the early 1950s. The company first used designs for their printed fabrics created by Armi’s artist friends. Then during the 1950s and 1960s two of the company’s most celebrated designers, Vuokko Nurmesniemi and Maija Isola, joined the company. Over the years, many more famous designers have worked for Marimekko.
The exhibition also explains the company’s name, which comes from the woman’s name Mari (or Mary) and the word mekko meaning dress. The term itself alludes to the primary motivation behind the establishment of the company – to make dresses for everyday women.
While I didn’t recognise many of the clothing and fabrics on display, listening to those around me, I was in the minority. Many could recall seeing and sometimes wearing the clothing. Some of the fabrics featured in their bedrooms.
For these people, it was the chance to reminisce which seemed to be the highlight of the exhibition. For me it was the chance to learn more of a design company I knew little about. Then there was the joy associated with the colourful fabrics the company is renowned for.
It’s easy to understand why Marimekko has been so successful. Its fabrics and clothing are so bright they somehow make you feel light and happy. The same can be said of the exhibition!
Marimekko: Design Icon 1951 to 2018 is open daily from 10am to 5pm at Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo. Visit the gallery’s website for further information and to purchase tickets.
Jenny Burns visited the exhibition as a guest of Bendigo Art Gallery.
Visit travelswithjb,com.au-exhibitions for more exhibition reviews.
- Bendigo Art Gallery, marimekko
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