As well as commissioning the lead entry Mardi Gras has taken an active role in commissioning two artist floats as part of the 2002 parade. Featuring the work of Philippa Playford and Anthony Babicci, the floats were constructed with the assistance of the Mardi Gras workshop.

Anthony Babicci’s association with Mardi Gras harks back to the 80s when he was a board member and then well into the 90s with his involvement in floats ranging from the Mardi Gras lead float for the 20th anniversary in 1998 to designing the ACON floats for the past four years.

But the creative juices have overflowed this year with Babicci’s Fhobia Fellini float. The float consists of a huge jewelled spider which will walk up Oxford Street featuring Babicci himself as the fly who tamed the spider perched on top. I wasn’t thinking of any issues or themes with this -“ I was just thinking of being noticed, Babicci confided. But I wanted to make the piece a really beautiful statement -“ even though it will be creepy and beautiful at the same time. That said, I guess a spider is kind of the way some people view gay people. Far away they look scary, but when you get up close, you realise they can’t hurt you after all.

There are a number of things going on here. In a way it’s a -˜day of the dead’ piece. There’s a representation of the friendships which have revolved around this [Oxford] street, so it’s kind of a memorial as well. I’m also using a number of female friends -“ gay and straight -“ in the float as a way of honouring their role in my life.

Babicci graduated with a diploma in stage design from the National Institute of Dramatic Art some years ago and is now there as a teacher of painting. Even so, despite his schedule at NIDA, this float was a point of honour for him and one which saw months of preparation. For this float, I started designing last September and we started work on the float right after Christmas -“ so it’s been a long time in planning and construction.

The float is happy-sad and beautiful-creepy as well, Babicci laughs. There are flowers made of red and green -˜jewels’ made of recycled CDs; panels of gold and red and pink; and mirrored sections as well; and up the front, people representing the sun, moon, half fly/half stars, hearts, wings -¦ it sounds incredible described like this, but it will just look amazing!

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