Over the past few months I’ve been working on a small series of photographs about a woman called Maria Needham. In 1831 Maria was convicted for stealing washing off a line in London and subsequently transported to Van Diemans Land (now Tasmania). The minimum sentence for such petty crimes was 7 years in the new southern colony. After surviving 130 days in appalling conditions at sea, during which 2 women and 12 children died, Maria was placed in a House of Correction for Females – more commonly known as The Female Factory in South Hobart. Like many female convicts Maria worked as a house servant to the wealthier people of the community and married a fellow convict.
I have investigated my convict ancestors and family tree, but despite having the same surname as Maria I don’t think we are related. Having said that, records relating to convicts are often incomplete or missing vital information, so perhaps it is still possible.
The exhibition titled Felt Presence is part of 10 Days on the Island* arts festival and is curated by Ellie Ray of Devonport Regional Gallery.
*”Eight artists from Australia, Scotland and Ireland have been asked to interpret in their own way, through varied media, the experience of a single female convict, to feel their trauma and their joys, illustrate their story, follow their path of banishment and ask how relevant it is today.
As a starting point, each artist was asked to select a convict who shared their name, research their experience and create an artwork that reflected their response. One artist has uncovered a relative, while others made their selection regardless of their namesake.”
So here’s a sneak peek one of my images:
"Out After Hours" from the series "Terra Australis Ignota"
15 MARCH – 28 APRIL 2013
Open from Friday 15 March, 10am
Official Opening Tuesday 19 March, 5.30 pm in conjunction with the 10 Days on the Island Festival Opening