Curator Fiona Baverstock. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times is the title of the latest costume exhibition from Dressing Australia Museum of Costume.

And for those who are trying to remember the Dickens’ book from which the quote originates, it’s A Tale of Two Cities.

While drawing on the
author’s characters for inspiration, Fiona and Keith Baverstock have focused on the rich panoply of Dickens’ women.

The result is an incredible collection of original 19th century gowns.

Characters such as the
eccentric Betsey Trotwood, the ditsy Dora Spenlow and the ever expectant Mrs Micawber (and her little Micawbers) from David Copperfield; the frozen-in-time Miss Havisham and the ice cold Estella – young and old – from Great Expectations; the inscrutable Lady Dedlock from Bleak House; the tragic Nancy from Oliver Twist; the spurned and vengeful Fanny Squeers from Nicholas Nickleby; the
unforgettable Sarah Gamp from Martin Chuzzlewit.

And then there are the ghosts – three of them. Fiona Baverstock said she and her husband Keith Baverstock saw a production of A Christmas Carol in England, where the ghosts were played by women, which turned out to be a highly successful device. 

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times – A Woman’s Lot in Charles Dickens enlivens Dickens’ marvellous array of characters.

The exhibition at Dudley House runs until Tuesday, June 4 from 1pm to 5pm.

For details email www.dressingaustraliamuseumofcostume.com

– Dianne Dempsey