The evening of Friday 8th September 2017 was a very special night for Phantom phans in Sydney, Australia, as The Phantom Art Show exhibition opened for what will almost certainly be the final time. It was an event three years in the planning and follows a two year tour of regional New South Wales and Queensland.
It is eminently appropriate that the final two exhibitions of The Phantom Art Show should be in the spiritual homes of each of the co-curators, Dietmar Lederwasch (Newcastle) and Peter Kingston (Manly).
These two gentlemen and devotees of the first costumed comic book hero have poured their hearts and souls into this long-running project, and so it is fitting that it should wrap up by visiting their home turfs. And certainly, the Manly Art Gallery has proven to be an incredibly scenic location for the last hurrah of the Show.
There were hundreds of visitors in attendance for the Friday night opening, which also served as the launch for the 2017 Manly Arts Festival. The opening address was graciously provided by The Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, who was effusive in her praise of the "wonderous show ... one of the highlights of the Manly Arts Festival" as she welcomed the curators and all artists who had contributed.
She thanked them for "sharing something very special, [their] representations of the peerless character, the Phantom", which "evokes that part of us all which is the child that rejoices in good things". When pondering the appeal of The Phantom, Dame Bashir surmised that it "comes down to courage, bravery, integrity, and certainly a determination to fight evil".
In true Phantom optimism, Dame Bashir concluded with the "hope [that] hundreds and thousands of Sydney people, and visitors to Sydney, will see it; and especially young people".
You can watch her full speech in the link below, thoughtfully provided for us by Senior Curator Katherine Roberts.
As has become tradition, a Phantom cosplayer (or three!) was in attendance, joined for the first time on the tour by Diana Palmer. As far as Peter was concerned, “Diana Palmer stole the show in Manly", and for Dietmar, her presence helped confirm that "the Phantom story is a love story“. Following a lead set in Newcastle, a local drumming group also joined the evening and provided an authentic jungle beat and ambiance to the event.
Manly Art Gallery was a hive of activity and bubbling excitement as the famous characters, guests and artists wandered through the exhibition, enjoying each other's company and the magnificent artwork surrounding them.
While many of the pieces on display will be familiar to those who have been fortunate enough to visit the Show in other venues, there are certainly a number of new artworks that have joined recently. It is also fascinating to see the way that a change in the layout of a Gallery affects the way in which a piece is viewed.
The Phantom Art Show remains on display at the Manly Art Gallery until 29 October 2017.
For more information, contact the Manly Art Gallery:
Manly Art Gallery & Museum
West Esplanade Reserve, Manly NSW 2095
Open Tue – Sun 10am – 5pm (closed Mondays & Public Holidays)
T: 02 9976 1421
Special thanks to Katherine Roberts, Peter Kingston and Trevor Clark for providing the images that accompany this post.