Rave Collage

A collection of 1990’s early rave flyers from the North west and South collaged onto a perspex window from Hulme, Manchester’s old demolished crescents.Rave CollageDetail is worked with oil paints to give a stained glass effect when lit from behind with shadow hands dancing as the lights pulse.

The rave artwork has been on display at Curve Pusher studios, Mare St, Hackney, London, and currently looking for a new home for this unique mixed media artwork.

Victorian Bride Ships

‘The Cinderella Colony of Western Australia’

Research from ‘An Australian Parsonage’ by Mrs Millet, published 1872

‘ Of the single girls we had more than sixty on board our ship, and one fortnight’s acquaintance with them had sufficed to show us that they were a most unpromising set; and moreover, our early impression that several of them had made acquaintance with the inside of a jail was not at all effaced by the experience and events of the voyage’.

The Tartar ship left London October carrying 118 passengers including Mrs Millet & her husband Edward, the newly appointed chaplain of York in WA, as well as the 50 young female Lancashire cotton weavers. Arrived Fremantle 12 December 1863.

‘The proportion of single adult males was eleven to every single adult female.’ Inquirer, 11th November 1863, Perth, Australia.

The Bride Ships by Rica Erickson, Hesperian Press 1992

Experiences of Immigrants Arriving in Western Australia 1849 -1889

‘As the passengers came on board their names were listed and each was allotted a berth number. Married couples occupied berths amidships, single males were accommodated forward in the dark part of the ship near the crew. The single women’s compartments were separated from both by a partition. Each section was divided into messes, or groups of six ( in larger vessels there were messes of eight). One in each mess was chosen to be responsible for the behaviour of the others. They descended below decks by steep ladders, shown to their numbers berths and instructed how to hoist a bench table, at night, between the tiers of bunks and fasten it to the deck above with iron bars. The bunks, ranged on either side of the table, were like coffins, one above the other, with little headroom. A small curtain gave a little privacy to each.

Women could wash on bath days in a large wooden tub wearing a shift and screened by canvas.

Those in charge of the messes brought down the daily issue of rations and supervised the fair division of food. Food could be salt pork, potatoes and peas with ginger pudding, hard biscuits always. They ensured that all utensils were cleaned and properly stowed away after meals, and that the bedding was aired on deck, weather permitting, at least twice a week. They usually won a small gratuity and several privileges on board for their duties.’

‘All were then mustered on deck, segregated as they would be below decks with married couples standing between the servant girls and the lads. After rollcall they listened to a recital of ship’s regulations. These were posted up, but not all the passengers could read. The most unwelcomed rule forbade communication between the single women and males.’

‘The first few days at sea were usually rough and tested the stomachs of the passengers who had never before been at sea. Below decks the air was foul with vomit, but few people had the strength to climb the hatchway ladders and pace the heaving decks for a breath of fresh air.’

Books and sewing materials were donated by organisations like the British Ladies Female Emigration Society. Literacy lessons, games and library books were sometimes provided.

‘The pilots long boat put off from Rottnest to guide them into safe anchorage. Another long boat from Fremantle came alongside bringing the Colonial Immigration officer and the Colonel Surgeon. The immigrants were lined up in order on the deck for the last time.’

‘The arrival of any ship at Fremantle always created a flurry of activity. Colonists in the most isolated settlement in the world were always avid for news.’

‘Most of the single women were Lancashire lasses who were thrown out of work when cotton mills closed down as a consequence of the Civil War in North America. British ships blockaded the North American ports in retaliation for the sinking of a ship, and this prevented the export of raw cotton to Lancashire….left thousands of people…. in abject poverty.

Donations to the Lancashire Relief Fund were sent from the British Colonies to save families from starvation. Under these circumstances Lancashire mill lasses were glad to migrate. One of the girls on the Tartar, although only 23, looked like a wrinkled old woman. She ate ravenously and soon became plump.’ (from Mrs Millet’s account)

‘The newly renovated Poorhouse-Home, Fremantle was ready to receive over a hundred immigrants when the Tartar came in Dec 1863. Pauper inmates were segregated on the upper floor while the immigrants occupied the ground floor in a long room divided into separate spaces by wooden partitions.’

Mrs Millett thought the immigrants lodgings were bare, cold and meagre, but was pleased to see they were perfectly clean, well ventilated and water could be obtained by the bucketful from a well in the yard.

Life at the Home and depot was boring for idle inmates. The matron supervised the usual tasks of sewing garments and laundering of linen from the hospital and gaol.’

China Blue by Jan Gothard, Melbourne University Press 2001

Single Female Migration to Colonial Australia

Between 1850 and 1900, seventeen thousand single British women accepted an assisted passage to Western Australia. Without assistance, working class women would never of afforded the long sea voyage and in return these women would solve the colonies domestic servant problem and become the future wives and mothers of WA. They were subject to routine and rigorous examinations of health and character, controlled  on the passage out and after their arrival, until the colonial government had seen them safely with employers or relatives.

Relatively few single working class women wrote diaries which have survived, more likely emigrant diaries were written in the form of a letter home. Sisters or female cousins may have been possible recipients of journals. But these were the very women who so often followed the adventurous pioneer out to the colonies. So the chances of working class women’s journals surviving were far more remote than those sent back to middle class families of the cabin passengers. Therefore working class emigrant women are less visible, but due to the ‘double control’ of immigrant authorities are perhaps more visible in government archives.

Middle class women’s philanthropic work “benevolent maternalism’ was undertaken to safeguard  women and to protect colonial homes. It was ideal for women as paid domestic servants to be trained under the eye of a middle class mistress.

‘Getting on, bettering oneself and enhanced employment opportunities, joining family and friends were major reasons to emigrate.’

‘In the 1860’s prospective emigrants were advised that ‘Female domestic Servants, who really understand their business, are in great demand in Australia, and are sure to obtain immediate employment at good wages’.

‘In 1863, when conditions in Lancashire were poor, the Duke of Newcastle approached all the Australian colonies to accept unemployed female cotton weavers as prospective immigrants. None responded favourably, although all but Western Australia were happy to accept other single women qualified in domestic service. W. A alone reported few employment prospects for any immigrants. Yet it was to W.A that the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners sent 50 young female Lancashire cotton weavers….all found employment.’

Death – A Self Portrait – Wellcome Collection, London

commemoration-L0071951”Things at the outer limits of life & death, sexualty & pain’  Phillipe Aries ‘The Hour of our Death’ (1977)

‘ars longa , vita brevis’                ‘life is short, art eternal’

I love the Wellcome Collection, its where I head as soon as Ive set foot in London again. Its iconic & eclectic collections are always fascinating ,and it rightly calls itself  ‘a free destination for the incurably curious’. http://www.wellcomecollection.org/

In the programme for ‘Death: A Self Portrait’ it reads ”At the heart of this exhibition are questions about art communicating ideas about death and the body. Can the production and appreciation of symbolic artworks help us to negotiate death? What function do inanimate objects play in burial and mourning rituals? How can our possesssions help to activate memories that connect us to the dead?” All these questions relate to the origins and use of puppets, and particularly my continuing by chance investigations into ancient burial relics such as in Almaty, Kazakstan with the Shamanic golden warrior women http://www.connellodonovan.com/princess.html

and the Shu Dynasty sacrificial site in Cheng Du, China. http://www.chengduliving.com/guide-to-chengdu/sights/jinsha-excavation-site/

wellcome death (1)

Amongst the many artworks and artefacts Richard Harris has collected in just 12 years, ephemera from all across the globe – the ones which directly relate to the artform of puppetry are the most fascinating to me. The ritualistic and spiritual ancestry of puppetry is essentially still part of humankind’s animistic spirit. – the desire to animate the inanimate, resurrect the dead.

Amongst the many amazing images and objects, including Tibetan sacrificial skull cups and Mexican Day of the Dead masks –  the Tau Tau Indonesia wooden funeral figure immediately stands out. The figure acts as a grave guardian, produced in the image of the deceased, to honour the dead and protect their descendants with articulated limbs and what looks like real hair,  it seems he could be puppeteered to life instantly.

wellcome death  American wood & cotton skeleton puppets link to the Medieval ‘Dance of Death’, reminding us that death sets the pace for life’s dance.wellcome death (2)

 

Benevolent Asylum – Lily Hibberd

Benevolent Asylum is an installation, performance and community discussion ground. The project at the Fremantle Arts Centre last year, was prompted by the discovery of the razed site of The Melbourne Benevolent Asylum, once the most prominent building in North Melbourne, where Hibberd lived for 11 years. Established in 1851, the Asylum was abandoned in 1900 and finally demolished in 1912.

Hibberd writes ‘The exhibition at Fremantle Arts Centre was the result of an encounter with the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum, which sparked an examination of asylum institutions as an archetype of care and confinement in Australia. Benevolent Asylum has evolved over three years, with research across Australia and Europe, to look at the origins of institutional confinement and birth of the circumstance in which state care and incarceration are inseparable.This work has revealed that originary models still profoundly influence Australia’s chief institutions of confinement and punitive detention. In Fremantle, for instance, convict labour transported to Tasmania from London’s Millbank and Pentonville prisons brought with it the Solitary System and a penology of relentless isolation and labour. Replicated across the colony in the mid-19th century, Model Prisons were established at Fremantle, Port Arthur, Adelaide Gaol and at Pentridge in Melbourne. Inmates in this system spent 12 hours labour and 23 hours a day in 2 x 3 metre cells.’

‘Tourism at former prison sites promotes the idea that this is a ‘dark’ history, which our institutions have left well behind, and that such harsh treatment borders on fiction. This is simply another radical forgetting. Confinement operates in precisely the same way in our asylums, prisons and detention centres today. And solitary incarceration is the prevailing public secret of Australian punishment: denial of the practice is so obvious that everything is done to avoid recognising it. ‘

This is a fascinating area of historical research & documentation, and is a rich area of creation for artists in site specific installation & artworks.  Im particulalry fascinated by the current use of these spaces especially for play & free leisure activities when they hold such deep secrets in their psychological landscapes. Is this an unconcious healing process or just gentrification? Certainly at the Forum discussion with the artist, issues of asylum, the history of confinement and the relationship between historical research and creativity were discussed openly and sometimes very emotionally, between artists, historians, prison counsellors, psychiatrists, educators, activists and other community members .

http://www.lilyhibberd.com/Benevolent_Asylum.html

Mapping Memory

Harrys Blanket

wendylugg.com                                 http://wendylugg.blogspot.com/

July 2011, I visited this interesting social history exhibition at the State Library, Perth. Resident Artist Wendy Lugg with the Royal W.A. Historical Society has explored their collections of the State Library of W.A. for stories that resonate with her own family memories. In Mapping Memory – artefacts, maps and ephemera rom the collection intermingle with the artists memorabilia and artworks in a rich layering of personal family story, collective memory and the landscapes they share.

kewpie dollAt the  turn of the 20th century Wendy Lugg’s grandmothers emigrated to join their husbands with the hope of a better life, despite the basic living and isolation. For many new arrivals, coming to W.A meant never seeing family again, just precious mementos, postcards and telegrams.The artists heritage is of thrift, and make do, searching op shops for treasures. Growing up making wonders using everyday materials and a lot of imagination. From childhood, she collected driftwood, shells and found objects from the beaches.

‘Just as reflections are distorted by ripples across the surface, memories are not always an accurate reflection of the past.’

‘Since colonization, weve made our mark on the land and its original inhabitants, not always in the best of ways.’

‘Mourning cloth.’

Fantastic Abandoned Sites in Perth

This is a great site below for lots of images of abandoned places in Perth, gonna go on a tour and have a good look….

http://www.6000times.com/2010/01/swanbourne-abandoned-mental-crazy.html

Thanks to Marisa Garreffa

Steamworks Arts Productions

Women Transported


An exhibition on life in Australia’s convict female factories is currently at the Fremantle Prison until July 3rd 2011

An estimated 1 in 5 Australians has an ancestor who spent time in a convict female factory, which were very similar to the English workhouses.This confronting and inspiring exhibition from the Parramatta Heritage Centre reveals the harsh lives of women who were incarcerated. Letters, photographs, domestic items and artefacts tell the story, although very little material survives from these women. Their contribution has been largely ignored, yet they are the ‘mothers of the nation’ – women with grit who survived the dire conditions of late 18th and early 19th century colonial Australia.