My Year as a Fairy Tale

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My Year as a Fairy Tale is a year-long performance by artist and writer Helen Hopcroft. From 1st May, 2017, Helen will dress in historically accurate costume as Marie Antoinette for one year, 24/7, and go about her everyday life in Maitland, a regional NSW town. This includes doing the school run, visiting the gym and supermarket, working and attending social events, all while wearing the extravagant costume of late 18th century France.

My Year as a Fairy Tale will be used to support Maitland’s visitor economy – or tourism – through an active social media campaign. Hopcroft strongly believes that regional economies benefit greatly from an active arts sector, and that creativity can play a leading role in urban renewal. While Maitland was once the second largest city in NSW, many small businesses in the CBD struggle with the lack of foot traffic, while other commercial premises remain vacant or have become derelict. One of Hopcroft’s long-term plans is to use this performance- of a historical figure engaging with contemporary life- to lobby for the construction of a museum in Central Maitland. She sees this as a way of celebrating the Hunter Valley’s history and boosting the region’s visitor economy. ‘Museums teach us about our past,’ says Helen, ‘but they also help us imagine our future. As a living symbol of the past, I want to use the Marie Antoinette persona to start a conversation about Maitland’s future’.

A Hunter Valley based creative team, including videographer Jessica Coughlan, will document My Year as a Fairy Tale using film, writing, visual art and photography. At the end of the year-long peformance, the team will apply to Screen Australia- under its Gender Matters initiative- to turn this footage into a short film or documentary. 

Helen, who grew up in Tasmania and whose grandmother started Hobart’s first commercial art gallery, jokes that her fascination with Marie Antoinette is the result of a good feminist upbringing. ‘Marie Antoinette was held up as an example of excess, of the arrogance of the powerful. I want to change this story. I want to reimagine Marie Antoinette as a symbol of the re-enchantment of Maitland. It’s a glorious city with huge potential’.

How The Funds Will Be Used

The costumes of late eighteenth century France were highly elaborate. Aristocratic women typically wore a long linen chemise, a couple of layers of petticoats, restrictive stays and then a dress made of wool or silk. They were expected to change their wardrobe three times a year, depending on the season. 

Funds from this campaign will be primarily used to design and construct five replica costumes, with a seperate design team responsible for each outfit. Each outfit will include an appropriate hat, undergarments, costume jewellery, shoes and accessories. While historical accuracy is important, the designers and makers will be given some creative licence to allow for their unique interpretation of this project to shine through. One of the key aims of this project is to showcase the creativity of Maitland and the Hunter Valley, so most design and construction will take place locally, and we will use recycled or upcycled fabrics whereever possible. 

The remaining funds will be used to document the making of these costumes, and the year-long performance, using photography and video. It will also be used to pay for ongoing marketing and publicity costs, hair and make-up, administration and costume research. If we reach our fundraiser target, we will use any excess funds to create more elaborate costumes and to help other community-based cultural initiatives (i.e. fundraising for a museum in Maitland). As this is a collaborative project, we will endeavour to track the journeys of the various creative people who have contributed to this project. 

Image: 'Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette' by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell 

The Challenges

The first major challenged faced by My Year as a Fairy Tale is the production of costumes. Each costume needs to be researched, designed and then skillfully constructed by a team of people. This is where you can help! We do need people to make pledges, but if you would also like to help us research, design or sew costumes, please get in touch :) The complexity of these beautiful costumes represents a major threshold barrier. 

To help address this challenge, we have lodged grant applications with the Australia Council and Creative Partnerships Australia's Match Lab Funding, and we're currently awaiting the outcome of these applications. We have already been successful in receiving a small amount of seed capital from the University of Newcastle's Centre for 21st Century Humanities, and we have partnered with Slingshot, a Newcastle-based corporate accelerator, to help with our media promotion. We're deeply committed to this project's aims, so we're going to continue to search for other ways to fund it. 

The second major barrier is the ongoing cost of documenting the performance using video and photography. Again, the level of funding we achieve will determine how we approach our documentation. If we fall short of our target, we will only shoot footage every three months; if we meet our target, we will shoot more frequently across the year, and include a wider range of people, interviews, costumes, interactions and locations. 

We hope you will help us to bring magic and Marie Antoinette to Maitland! Thank you :) 

on 27th Apr 2017 at 1:59pm. The payment portal is closed now.
AU$10 +le painFor little more than the cost of decent loaf of sourdough, we will send you a handwritten postcard thanking you for your support. We will also credit you on our blog.
5 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$20 +le 'tea towel'Make washing the dishes fun with this elegant My Year as a Fairy Tale tea towel. Designed by artist Caelli Jo Brooker, these tea towels are sure to be a future classic!
18 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is July 2017
AU$25 +la briocheSweeten your daily bread with this ongoing recognition of your generosity. We will post you a handwritten thank you card, and add your name to our video credits and blog.
12 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$50 +la fromageA big cheesy smile will be plastered across your face when you receive a handwritten 'Thank You' postcard, as well as credit on our website and videos. But wait, there's more! We will send you an original Marie Antoinette costume sketch by a member of our creative team.
9 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$50 +le jardinExperience bliss with this gift of Doterra essential oils, and a free 30 minute Wellness Consult with Emma Hartley to learn how to use them effectively.
2 Chosen | 1 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$50 +All Gonele bikesmithFor one lucky punter, two regular drinks and two delicious patisserie items from Maitland's funkiest cafe, The Bikesmith & Espresso Bar (image courtesy of the Maitland Mercury)
1 Chosen | 0 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$50 +All Gonele makeupTransform your pretty face with a makeup session with the very talented Leilani Boughton. Leilani is adept at creating makeup for special occasions, everyday wear and theatrical productions. Unfortunately, this desirable reward is for residents of Maitland and the Hunter Valley only.
1 Chosen | 0 AvailableEst. delivery is August 2017
AU$100 +tarte tatinBragging rights, albeit of the most indefinably suave kind. We will name one of Marie Antoinette's outfits after you, i.e. The Jane, The Eugene, The Samuel, The Pearl... Consider it the sartorial equivalent of an Oscar ;)
1 Chosen | 4 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$100 +la sireneStep into the magical fairy tale world of the Little Mermaid with 'celestial body', a limited edition print by artist Karen Robinson Smith (edition number 17/20, 30 x 40cm)
0 Chosen | 1 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$100 +All Gonethe du matinLet Marie Antoinette bake you a delicious cake, and personally deliver it to your place of work in Maitland or Newcastle.
5 Chosen | 0 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$100 +All Gonemakeup de la MarieFor the discerning patron, the opportunity to have your hair and makeup done a la Marie Antoinette. We're talking big hair, powdered face, lots of rouge. Wear it to work, wear it out, but most of all wear it proud. Thanks to the very talented Leilani Boughton for donating this reward. Unfortunately, this reward is only available to residents of Maitland and the Hunter Valley.
1 Chosen | 0 AvailableEst. delivery is August 2017
AU$100 +All Gonele chapeau (or a damned fine hat!)As I always say, it's always good to plan ahead for the Melbourne Cup. This year why don't you treat yourself to a piece of gorgeously amazing headgear from Jodie Louise Millinery, Newcastle? For one lucky punter, a $100 voucher for the perfect hat (with the voucher to be spend in store).
1 Chosen | 0 AvailableEst. delivery is August 2017
AU$150 +la bonbonSugar is sweet, but so is an original drawing by Helen Hopcroft, a Royal College of Art trained artist, which we will send to you, lovely patron x
9 Chosen | 16 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$150 +All Gonel'artisteTwo things you never regret buying? Good food and quality art! Let us tempt you with an original work by Caelli Jo Brooker. You can't eat it, but it will keep your living room wall happy for years to come :) (please note: the original work may differ from image)
1 Chosen | 0 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$150 +All Gonele prestigeFor one lucky person, a luxurious high tea for two at The Palm Court Tea Salon, Maitland (Hunter Valley residents only, and image courtesy of the Maitland Mercury).
1 Chosen | 0 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$200 +All Gonele styloLearn to love letter writing again with a beautiful twin set of handcrafted pens by Maitland's own Bearded Woodworker.
1 Chosen | 0 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$500 +creme brûléeFor our most generous of patrons, we would like to send you a small original work on paper by Helen Hopcroft, a Royal College of Art trained artist.
1 Chosen | 9 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$500 +le coeurFor this generous pledge, actor and singer Alastair Anderberg and Amelia Chorlton will visit your place of work in Maitland or Newcastle. These talented individuals will sing your favourite song, and then perform a dramatic duologue to entertain your co-workers.
0 Chosen | 3 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$750 +le canardMarie Antoinette will visit your event, and give an eloquent speech if required, at the Hunter Valley, Maitland or Newcastle location of your choice.
0 Chosen | 5 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$1000 +le gateauAccording to Antonia Fraser, author of an excellent Marie Antoinette biography, the whole 'let them eat cake' thing was fake news. But still, cake is very nice. For super generous donors we will sweeten the deal with an original artwork: a small painting by Helen Hopcroft, a Royal College of Art trained artist.
0 Chosen | 5 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017