Discover the famous Coburn tapestries, the Curtain of the Sun and the Curtain of the Moon, the original house curtains for the Opera Theatre and Drama Theatre stages. Learn about the history behind this great Australian story, and get creative with hands-on art activities inspired by these iconic works.
What are the Coburn Tapestries?
In 1969, architect Peter Hall commissioned John Coburn, an Australian modern abstract artist known for vivid geometric paintings, to design the Sydney Opera House theatre curtains.
Coburn worked with the weavers Pinton Frères in France for three years to make the magnificent tapestries. The curtains, named Curtain of the Sun for the Opera Theatre (now called the Joan Sutherland Theatre) and Curtain of the Moon for the Drama Theatre were hung in 1972.
In the 1980s they were removed due to concerns of their preservation in a live theatre environment, and have since been conserved and restored, only making few special appearances throughout the decades.
Stream, Read & Listen
The story of how the curtains came to be hung again.
John Coburn describes the weaver’s craft in Felletin, France.
In May 2019, the tapestries were exhibited for public viewing for the first time in over a decade.
Watch this time lapse of the Curtain of the Sun being hung in the Joan Sutherland Theatre.
Find out more about Coburn's abstract style and inspiration for the two curtains.
Tim Ross, design enthusiast and presenter, has become fixated with the Opera House's historic tapestries – so much so he's hosting a podcast about them.