The MCG 150th Anniversary Tapestry

This highly-detailed tapestry was created in 2002/03 by artist Robert Ingpen and the Victorian Tapestry Workshop to mark the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Located outside the Long Room, the Melbourne Cricket Ground 150th Anniversary Tapestry depicts many iconic moments from the history of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), and represents the importance of the ground in the sporting and cultural life of Australia.

Tapestry, Melbourne Cricket Ground 150th Anniversary (2003) by Robert IngpenMelbourne Cricket Club

The tapestry presents these moments in chronological order from left to right: from the Melbourne Cricket Club's first president, Frederick Powlett, through to Socceroo Kevin Muscat, who kicked Australia's winning goal in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match.

Watercolour painting, tapestry design by Robert Ingpen (2003) by Robert IngpenMelbourne Cricket Club

The tapestry was commissioned as a collaboration between artist Robert Ingpen and the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in 2002/03, utilising techniques that weavers have used for centuries.

Ingpen painted a watercolour sketch, one-tenth the size of the tapestry, to serve as a guide.

Watercolour, Little League & Kanga Cricket (2002) by Robert IngpenMelbourne Cricket Club

Ingpen created detailed watercolour studies of the figures to be included in the tapestry. He based these images on photographs and paintings of the subjects.

This painting depicts Little League and Kanga Cricket games.

Tapestry, Melbourne Cricket Ground 150th Anniversary (2003) by Robert IngpenMelbourne Cricket Club

The watercolours were used as reference guides for the nine master weavers from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop who spent months creating the tapestry.

One of the challenges faced by the weavers was how to depict figures in motion on the flat medium of the tapestry. They achieved this by incorporating shadows to create a sense of movement, using small blocks of darker colour in an effect similar to pixilation in a photograph.

The Victorian Tapestry Workshop used their largest loom, measuring more than seven metres in length, to craft the tapestry. The size of the loom allowed up to eight weavers to work on the tapestry at a time.

Subtle vertical lines are woven into the Tapestry to represent each decade in the life of the ground.

The first decades

The first 50 years in the life of the ground saw the birth of sporting traditions and legends.

Among the earliest events depicted are the establishment of the Melbourne Cricket Club, in 1838, the first recorded game of football, played in August 1858, and the Aboriginal cricket team, who played at the MCG in 1866.

Early football star George Coulthard umpired a Test match at the MCG in 1878. An exhibition football match was held under electric lights at the MCG in 1879 - possibly the first time sport was illuminated anywhere in the world.

The first Test match was played at the MCG in 1877, and Charles Bannerman was the first cricketer to score a Test century.

English cricketer Dr W G Grace visited Melbourne on two occasions, in 1873 and again in 1892-93 where his presence helped revive flagging local interest in cricket, and helped lead to the establishment of the Sheffield Shield, which the Australian state cricket teams have vied for ever since.

Dawn of the 20th Century

The first 50 years of the twentieth century hold remarkable stories of the MCG and its deepening importance in Australian life.

Hugh Trumble was the first player to take two Test hat tricks, both at the MCG, and Victor Trumper was Australia’s greatest batsman prior to World War I.

The MCG was home to record-breaking batsman Bill Ponsford, and hosted some of the finest performances by Don Bradman.

Harold Larwood led the England attack during the 1932/33 Bodyline series which saw relations between Australia and England fall to their lowest ebb.

Legendary ruckman Roy Cazaly played for St Kilda and South Melbourne, and the cry “Up there, Cazaly”, was a constant refrain from the crowd as he contested a mark or the ruck.

Gordon Coventry starred for Collingwood, kicking his side to four premierships in a row from 1927 to 1930. He became the first man to kick 100 goals in a season, and was the first player to reach 1000 goals.

During the Second World War the MCG was sequestered by the Commonwealth for use in the war effort. A succession of military units from the US and Australia occupied the ground from 1942, including 200,000 members of the Royal Australian Air Force who passed through the ground between 1943 and 1945.

Towards the new millenium

The post-war years, and into the twenty-first century, saw some of the greatest spectacles in the MCG's history, from Olympic Games, to Papal visits, and a host of records achieved, and broken, by teams and individuals.

The 1956 Olympic Games were one of the most important events in MCG history. Ron Clarke carried the Olympic Torch into the stadium and an 18-year-old Betty Cuthbert charged to victory in the 100 metres.

In 1959 the attendance record for the MCG was set not by a cricket or football crowd, but by the between 130-140,000 people who flocked to see American evangelist Billy Graham. A further 4000 could not get into the ground.

Kapil Dev took 5/28 to bowl India to an unlikely victory on his MCG debut in 1980.

Wasim Akram took 6/62 and 5/98 in the opening Test of the 1989-90 tour, and won the Man of the Match award in the 1992 World Cup Final.

Shane Warne gave some of his greatest performances at the MCG, including his hat-trick against England in 1994.

The addition of lights to the MCG in 1985 revolutionised both cricket and football, allowing night matches to become a common fixture.

The MCG has hosted a wide range of music concerts, such as The Three Tenors.

Sports outside of the traditional Australian football and cricket have also featured, such as when the Australian Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks competed for the Bledisloe Cup.

A goal scored by Kevin Muscat for the Socceroos in a World Cup qualifier sent the crowd into jubilation.

The tapestry was unveiled at a dinner to commemorate the MCG's 150th Anniversary, held in the Long Room on September 23, 2003. It is a fitting tribute to the storied history of the ground, and the people and events that have helped to make it such an iconic venue.

Credits: Story

Dunstan, Keith: 'The Tapestry Story: celebrating 150 years of the Melbourne Cricket Club', Thomas C. Lothian Pty. Ltd., South Melbourne, 2004

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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