Summary

White cotton t-shirt with black screen-printed image of a woman from waist up, smoking a cigarette. Inscribed 'Ms. WICKED MELBOURNE 91'.

Physical Description

White cotton t-shirt with black screen-printed image and inscription at centre front. Image shows a woman from waist up, smoking a cigarette and wearing a black cap, with inscription to left and above. Label at neck printed with manufacturer's details. T-shirt discoloured, including staining, particularly on lower front.

Significance

The Girl Bar collection is significant for several reasons. It provides rare documentation of a lesbian social venue from the 1990s to the recent past, illustrating how the venue promoted itself and the messages it conveyed to its target audience, and how patrons interacted with the venue. The collection includes several key objects and documents, from entry tags and ID cards carried by patrons to a scrapbook with flyers, advertisements and newspaper clippings about the venue and the lesbian scene in Melbourne more broadly. It is contextualized with material such as an album of photographs showing the fit-out of one of their venues, a whistle (for safety and attention), t-shirts and drink coasters, and a personal artwork that remembers an event at the Girl Bar. The collection fills part of the gap in major Victorian collecting institutions, identified in Kate Davison’s 2006 report ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Material Survey’.

At a broader level, the Girl Bar scrapbook documents the techniques used by venues of this sort – and indeed, a whole range of social contexts, including bands – to promote themselves in a cost-effective, grass-roots manner. It includes original artwork, showing the simple techniques (such as line drawings and cutting and pasting) that were used to create flyers for photocopying onto coloured paper. The photo album documents the physical set-up of a business, providing an insight into a rarely-documented part of commercial life.

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