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Flash Goddess
February 2004


Nicole Stewart
Phar Lap

Nicole Stewart

Phar Lap - the Story of Australia's Wonder Horse

Artist Statement:

Phar Lap is one of Museum Victoria's prize collections and is also one of Australia's favourite stories.

Developing Phar Lap as a web project was initially a little daunting. We began by sifting through our collection of objects and ephemera, including archival footage and audio stories. It quickly became apparent that creating a flash component to the site would be the most effective and creative way to tell Phar Lap's story online.

I worked with our curator, Eddie Butler-Bowden to shape the content for the web and Tony Hood our web editor at the museum then used that content to shape it into the flash story. The design of the Pharlap story was a real treat - so much material to choose from, reflecting the 1930's era - eg. the logo design is based on an old tobacco tin from our collection. We're planning to add some audio narration in the next few months.

I've been working in the web-world for around 6-7 years and love the creative freedom when I have a chance to develop a project in Flash. Before that I've studied illustration/design and cut my teeth initially in the book publishing world. Working as a designer in a museum provides loads of diversity and challenges - finding opportunities to deliver web content in engaging ways - and Flash is often the answer!

Curator Review:

Flash represents a subtle force in this elaborately designed presentation. It’s an example of Flash usage where rather than 'screamingly' making its presence felt it quietly enhances the obvious expertise and talent of the Designer Nicole Stewart and her team.

Pharlap is a first rate learning object that offers its intended user group an exquisite feast for the eyes whilst delivering an informative journey into an important part of Australian social history. With her clever insightful use of Deco flavoured fonts, patterns and design features, Nicole has skilfully captured the fevered 'carnival' atmosphere that was generated by this freakish racehorse and adopted by a nation during the 1930's.

Her painstaking application to fine detail has resulted in a rich and polished end product that is both delightfully visual and functionally rewarding to a wide ranging user group. She has managed to find the right balance of interactivity and continuous flow throughout the experience. I particularly like her use of quirky little Flash extras. The magnifying glass and the animations of hats being thrown as Pharlap wins the cup just to name a few. Flash has allowed the Designer to explore options and use elements of the vast collection of material, that perhaps wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

This Flash presentation epitomizes the creative use of flash. It doesn't break any new ground as far as Flash development is concerned but it does show us what role Flash has assumed for many Designers/Artists of today that is as an accessible tool of trade.