convict wall (2017/18)
Fired paper clay and porcelain ceramic
20 x 30 cm
20 x 30 cm
Convict Wall is made up of fired clay pressings of the markings, or ‘dargs’, made by convicts some 180 years ago in the boundary wall of the National Art School, the old Darlinghurst Gaol, in Sydney. The pressings were a response to the site when I was undertaking my Masters at the art school and reflect an interest, in the convict origins of European colonialism. The dargs were made by convict stonemasons (mostly of Scottish origin) to keep a track of the number of sandstone blocks carved by each individual. When a quota was reached, the individual would be granted a privilege: a free day, or progress toward being promoted to an indentured labour job on a farm. The markings are abstract symbols on the palimpsest of the aged sandstone and seem to declare ‘I was here’. By taking and reproducing them, I am attempting to amplify the nearly lost voices of these past workers. By singling out the marks and reconstructing a section of wall, mimicking a museum display, I offer them up for contemplation in a contemporary context.