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Eternity gallery to show off 'the clock frock'

28 FEBRUARY 2005

A new costume which enraptured onlookers at Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 1995 is sure also to thrill visitors to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra when it goes on display tomorrow.

Sydney man Ron Muncaster's story continues in the National Museum's Eternity gallery, where the personal stories of 50 ordinary and extraordinary Australians are told under emotional themes - including thrill - that speak directly to people's real experiences.

Ron's spectacular costume "Lucille Balls" has been displayed in the Eternity gallery since the National Museum opened in 2001.

The new costume in Eternity, "Old Mother Time" - Ron calls it "the clock frock" - won the best costume award in the Mardi Gras parade in 1995. Old Mother Time's headdress is a clock; the three-tiered skirt moves like the internal workings of a timepiece - a metaphor for the special meaning of time in the age of HIV/AIDS.

"In 1980, five of us started to make some costumes and floats. Now, I am the only one still left - all the others have died. So I really am a 'living legend'," Ron said.

The installation of "Old Mother Time" will take place in the Eternity gallery at 11am on Tuesday, March 1. This year's Mardi Gras parade is scheduled for Saturday, March 5.

Since the parades began in the late 1970s - as a political protest at first, then as a celebration - Ron's spectacular costumes have captured the top award 15 times and earned him the first spot in the parade's Hall of Fame.

"Three years ago, all of my costumes were featured in the parade - 72 of them," Ron said. For this year's parade the retired antique dealer - for whom costume-making is "just a hobby" - has created 25 elaborate outfits with the theme of Kiss of the Spiderwoman.

National Museum curator Sophie Jensen said "Old Mother Time" is sure to be as popular as the costume it is replacing.

"Ron's costumes turn the commonplace into something thrilling and startling," Sophie said. "They are the result of months of dedicated work and culminate in great excitement when the Sydney crowds view them and when people see them here in Eternity."

For interviews with Sophie or Ron or images please contact Leanda Coleman on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or l.coleman@nma.gov.au or Sandy Forbes on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or s.forbes@nma.gov.au