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13 facts about Peter Tully

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By Gwylym Owen

Peter Tully (1947-1992), was a jeweller, designer and artistic director, notable for his influence on jewellery design in Australia through the utilisation of found and non-precious materials, as well as his artistic government of the Sydney Mardi Gras (1982-1986).

Tully was born Peter Graig (a spelling error in the birth register) Tutungi in Carlton, Melbourne on 17 December 1947. At the age of five Tully’s relatives moved to the beach resort of Lorne in Victoria. Of Arabic/Egyptian origin, his grandparents had migrated to Australia between the wars and anglicised their make known to the more sufficient Tully. At the age of 16 Tully moved to Melbourne, first working as a clerk, but forward-thinking moving into display, making props for Public Benefit Shoes, and forward-thinking with a German display company. In 1969 Tully, accompanied by the fashion designer Linda Jackson and her partner, the photographer Fran Moore, went to breathing in Lae in Papua New Guinea. After a year active in Lae the three set out upon the hippy trail to Europe, spending much of 1970 and 1971 traveling through South East Asia, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Bali, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. In 1971 Tully arrived in Paris, where he taught English, and undertook trips to the Netherlands and Spain. It was in Paris that Tully became particularly impressed by the collections of African and Oceanic art. In 1972 Tully met in the works with Linda and Fran in London, before he made his way urge on to Australia, via Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and India. During this return trip he was particularly impressed by the use of leather and non-precious materials in jewellery in Sudan, and the sale by weight, rather than workmanship, of jewellery in Ethiopia. Meeting occurring again gone Linda and Fran in Thailand, he returned to Melbourne in 1973.

In 1973 Tully met the artist and campaigner David McDiarmid, becoming lovers for the with two years, and permanent friends and collaborators till Tully’s death in 1992.

Tully and McDiarmid moved to Sydney in 1975, joining their Melbourne friend and creative collaborators Linda Jackson, who had moved there taking into consideration her accomplice Fran Moore in 1973. This times also proverb McDiarmid, Tully and Jackson collaborating in the same way as Melbourne fashion designer and retailer Clarence Chai and Sydney-based fashion designer and retailer Jenny Kee. After their upset to Sydney past Tully and McDiarmid were soon energetic with Kee’s fashion stock Flamingo Park in Strand Arcade, hand-painting fabrics for Jackson’s dresses. His experience of time-honored tribal cultures through many years of travel in New Guinea, Africa and India – along subsequent to the living and creative urban sub-cultural ‘tribes’ he proverb New York – stimulated the enhance of his ‘urban tribalwear’.

In 1977 Tully held his second one-man exhibition, exhibiting his Australiana-themed jewellery at Paraphethana Gallery.

Tully was undoubtedly the most influential designer effective with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, through his role as artistic director from 1982-1986 and through the introduction and executive of the Workshop. It was in these roles that Tully greatly contributed to the transformation of the Mardi Gras from a diplomatic march to cultural event.

He past said of the legendary Paradise Garage disco in New York: ‘It was very nearly 85% black and certainly exciting. They played the best music I’d never heard and the people dressed. Even while they didn’t dress expensively, they had lots of style. They could wear a paper bag and see like a million dollars. And they in direct of fact impressed me. So that was the impetus to get into costume.’

Peter Tully died in Paris in August 1992 from an AIDS-related illness, he was 45.

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