This bear was made by Melbourne company Mitchell Tyrie and dressed by the costume department of the San Francisco Opera, depicting the character Othello from the opera of the same name. His costume was made by senior draper Matthew Nash, using the same silk fabric used on the costume worn by his real life counterpart Chris Merritt in their 1994 production of Othello.

It was auctioned off by Christies in Sydney in October 1995 to raise funds for the Victorian and New South Wales Aids Councils. The auction included bears dressed by designers and artists around Australian and internationally too. It was one of four purchased by the donor.

Mitchell Tyrie was established by former children's librarian Pol McCann in the early 1990s, fashioning the company of famed German manufacturer Steiff. Selling handmade collectible bears, he began by making 200 in 1991, and they were so popular that his output had grown to 1200 by 1995.


This bear is a representative snapshot of the kinds of high profile fundraising events that were held to raise money for relevant organisations during the Aids crisis of the 1980's and 90's.

As the disease affected many people in the creative industries, their colleagues and friends frequently banded together to produce numerous charity performances and concerts, along with auctions and sales of art, design and other pieces of creative practice, such as these bears.

Designed and decorated by industry professionals, they used the finest fabrics and materials and were finished to the highest standard. Produced by Australian fashion designer Jonathan Ward, Australian costume designer Darryl Myott and the costume department of the San Francisco Opera, a organisation and a city who knew only too well the devastation caused by the disease.

Mitchell Tyrie was a Melbourne high-end bear maker, who decided to organise an auction of dressed and decorated bears after losing a number of friends to the disease. He made dozens of mohair bears, which usually sold for $250, and arranged to have them sent to fashion and costume designers, artists and other designers in Australia and around the world. He soon had almost 100 artist bears assemble for an auction held by Christies in Sydney in 1993, which raised ten of thousands of dollars for the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation. So successful was the sale, that two more equally successful auctions were held the following two year, which broadened its reach to include both the Victorian and NSW Aids Councils.

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