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Museum exhibition tells a fine yarn about wool

22 JULY 2009

For more than 200 years, wool has been part of Australia's social and economic history. An exhibition about this important Australian story, A Fine Yarn: Innovations in Australia's wool industry, opens today at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

"A Fine Yarn tells an important story about the lengths the Australian wool industry has gone to in order to survive in a changing marketplace," said exhibition curator Edwin Ride.

"In economic terms, Australia really did 'ride on the sheep's back'; a situation that only came to an end in the 1960s. That was the time when competition from other fibres, particularly synthetics began to be felt. The Australian wool industry entered a decline which created urgency for change through innovation," Edwin said.

A Fine Yarn explores innovation in a variety of contexts — from wool farming techniques and practices, through to clothing manufacturing and product marketing. The exhibition also examines the role of wool competitions and awards in encouraging innovation within the industry.

The exhibition contrasts images of traditional fine wool garments, such as the famous Frank Hurley photograph of Sir Douglas Mawson wearing a woollen balaclava on the 1929-30 Antarctica expedition, with contemporary uses of the fibre. A Manchester United Football Club jumper made from Sportwool™, a textile that combines the comfort of wool against the skin with a polyester outer layer, illustrates innovations by the industry to meet the needs of a changing market.

Superfine wool is soft and prickle-free. It can be spun as exceptionally fine yarn and woven or machine-knitted into smooth light-weight fabrics. Such exclusive fabrics are used for the finest tailoring, for next-to-skin wear and for occasions when only the best will do. A Giorgio Armani superfine merino blazer represents a defining moment for the South Sydney Rabbitohs when the football club was re-born in 2006.

A Fine Yarn: Innovations in Australia's wool industry is on display at the National Museum of Australia from 22 July to 8 November, 2009. Admission is free. For more information about the exhibition visit www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions

For interviews, images and more information please contact Caroline Vero on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au