A detail of the Mothers Art workshop with some raw state fish heads in the foreground which are being prepared for assembly.
A typical design cover sheet for the hammerhead. Each aquatic creature was allocated to a country (in this case strangely Norfolk Island ), a place in the parade: The B32L code is read as Barge 32 left hand. A note (Peter Wilson's handwriting) and initial on the lower left denotes the drawing is suitable for manufacture. The drawing showing basic dimensions and notes depicting material types. The clear folder containing all of the notespertaining to the creature and the country, resided on the production room wall with the other 70 folders.
Ian Bracegirdle in the foreground with a section of the fish assembly line, affectionately known as the "sushi-line" in the Mothers Art workshop, Spotswood December 2005.
Each of the seventy one competing nations in the Commonwealth Games were represented by a single aquatic creature. After extensive research by resident ictheologists and illustrators including Graeme McGuffie each nation was consulted as to the relevance and appropriateness of "their" representative fish. Once accepted the distinguishing features of the fish were adapted for representation in various metals and steel meshes that would catch the light, through reflection, translucence and diffusion.
One of the more challenging aquatic creatures. Most of the fish were able to be stylised for cost reasons into three basic body shapes and a similar number of head types. However the Bat Ray pictured here along with others such as the prawn (cooked for one nameless country), the whale and the various Eels including the Yarra River Eel representing Australia were called "specials" and had to be constructed as bespoke forms.
The barges supporting the aquatic creatures were in themselves a complex structure that provided for a fireproof housing for technicians under a staircase for performers. From the deck of the barge there were mounts for water cannon, fireworks and lighting. The latter had to be inclosed in a clear waterproof dome that allowed the heat from pre-LED lighting to escape. The lighting on board and the strobe projection effects and gobos were designed after a series of tests at the Mothers Art workshop and at Burnley turning basin. Ian Bracegirdle, Peter Wilson,Keith Tucker and lighting designer Phil Lethlean evolved both the materials and the lighting techniques to achieve what the up to 1.8 billion audience saw on opening night.
Some of the Aquatic creatures by day in the lad up to opening night. the complete line of sculptures and flag barges commenced at Princes Bridge in St Kilda Road and finished at Swan Street bridge approximately 1.4 kilometres in length
The seventy two creatures during the opening performance. The opening sequence to the orchestrated version of Steve Kilby's"Under the Milky way" was repeated each night for the duration of the Games"
Projections from the Yarra River banks on to the fish and water cannon fog were tuned to the music score and action on the barges.
The opening performance each night closed with fireworks which were launched from surrounding buildings as well as the creature barges.