Convicts - #5 in a series of online exhibitions
Covid-19, we are still here, we have been in isolation now for over 5 weeks, locked up.
In 1990 the Castlemaine jail in Victoria closed, it was close, you could see it from our narrow back yard, just there up on the hill behind the train tracks. I remember a solitary light over the front door, it was a dark place. Slowly it opened.
I was part of an artist group then, Castlemaine Artists Inc., I had been working with a close friend and artist, Greg Smith, creating small works from found bits’n pieces. We were asked to put on an exhibition in the newly closed gaol, we had a very short time to prepare, was it a week, perhaps two. We had no money but we were already good at scouring the thrift shop, bought some old sheets to paint on, some cheap paint, I think it was blue, there was some cartridge paper we already had, a tube of black, a few pencils.
I decided to do self portraits as a prisoner: a part of my family had found their way to Hobart Town in Van Dieman’s Land, from London, in 1840. Ellis the father, and his son Lewin had just made headlines in London trying to nick the largest amount of gold dust in UK’s history, it found fame as, ‘The Great Gold Dust Robbery’. I had only recently learnt about it, or realised it was part of my story and I guess this was my first attempt to connect.