Flying Fish puts on displays for all to see


Ice hockey in close-up: Flying Fish’s Bek Voller and Carli Brown with objects from Hockey: Faster than Ever, which is being built for display in the US next year. Picture: Yanni

“FLYING fish” sounds like a misnomer because fish aren’t supposed to fly. But some fish do, after a fashion, so the name can be applicable.

This rationale also helps explain how Rosebud business Flying Fish Exhibitions – which is doing work in the field of international touring exhibitions – got its name.

Founder Jay Brown said a friend came up with Flying Fish after realising the team was capable of doing things that they really shouldn’t be able to do. But, like flying fish, they can.

Seven years down the track, after starting inside a basement at Mount Martha, and later moving to Capel Sound, the creative minds at Flying Fish get together to design, make and stage a host of exhibitions at museums all over the world, as well as taking all manner of shows and permanent exhibitions “on the road” to be seen by audiences everywhere.

A staff of six on the Mornington Peninsula and five in North America make and stage the whole gamut of touring the shows. They manage overall projects after developing the initial concepts, designing exhibits and handling multi-media and motion graphics.

They also make the characters and props and the crates for their transport, handle sales, marketing and venue booking, and then plan freight and logistics.

Outside the box: Jay Brown works on international exhibitions. Picture: Gary Sissons

If that’s not too much they also arrange the tours, which includes preparing each venue in advance, and then overseeing on-site installation and dismantling of exhibits.

Theirs is a world of wonder, none more so than Mr Brown’s favourite – Apollo: When We Went to the Moon at the US Space and Rocket Centre, Huntsville, Alabama. It chronicles the space race – in graphics, original artefacts, mementoes, newspaper cuttings, pictures and sounds – from a time when the US and the Soviet Union were front runners in space exploration. The timeline progresses to the collaborative culture of today’s international space station program.

“We designed and built Apollo. It was a really interesting subject and we managed to strike a balance with our expertise and the high-end technology,” Mr Brown said.

The experience the team created in this, its second major exhibition, conveyed the sense of awe felt by the technicians, engineers, and astronauts who flew to the moon 50 years ago. Neil Armstrong’s haunting words, “One Small Step for Man…” brings the exhibition to life.

The company’s first major international exhibition was in 2017 when motion graphics were used to put visitors “on” the planets in a virtual display which is also at the US Space and Rocket Centre. Visitors follow a virtual moonwalk path, leaving moonboot prints behind. Visitors can control astronauts’ movements.

Mr Brown said his team had worked with NASA for five years and had contacts at museums in Sydney, Melbourne, China and Europe.

Other exhibitions in North America include HOCKEY: Faster than Ever at the Montreal Science Centre, Montreal, about the history of ice hockey; The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited, about famous cartoon characters, at the Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York; and Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family, the first exhibition to showcase the revised family tree of the tyrannosaur family and provide a snapshot of dinosaur life, at the Australian Museum, Sydney. The exhibition has been shown at nine venues across two continents and been viewed by half a million visitors.

The Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO Bricks at the Sydney Living Museum has been seen by double that number. The travelling exhibition was created with the help of Ryan McNaught, one of 14 certified LEGO professionals worldwide.

A Flying Fish exhibition which struck a parochial chord was The Dressmaker, at the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra, which showcased high-end fashion from the book/movie The Dressmaker worn by Australian actors in the outback town of Dungatar.

An upcoming exhibition is Voyage to the Deep, at Nauticus in Norfolk, Virginia. Visitors will go on an underwater journey into the fantastic world of ground-breaking sci-fi author Jules Verne. The exhibition, to run throughout January, was developed by Australian National Maritime Museum and is also being toured internationally.

So, it seems the scope and wonder of Flying Fish’s exhibitions are limited only by our imaginations – which means they are not limited at all.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 15 December 2020


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