In the Panopticon 2019-21

The work in this project is a response to the historic buildings of the National Art School in Sydney and the creative labour of those who have worked there.

In the 19th century, Darlinghurst Gaol’s innovative panopticon design was intended to reform inmates through constant surveillance, isolation and labour. Penal labour for men included tailoring, carpentry, weaving, metalworking and bookbinding to equip individuals with skills that might keep them away from crime on release.  Women prisoners were mostly occupied with mending and laundry although some did tailoring and fancy needlework.

To acknowledge this work – and its resonance with the students who came after them – I engage with the clothing that prisoners made and wore, as well as the buildings they worked in. Images of the prisoners clothing and faces appear in some work, recalling the gaol’s other innovation: the photographic prison record.

Drawing on these images and vernacular materials used at the time, this project re-forms and re-members the prisoners. It evokes their ways of working, the constraints they experienced and their humanity as individuals.

Photo: the artist. Installation view 2021.

L: Hanging, 2020. Installation view. Photo: the artist;

R: Black Mariah, 2020. Photo: Peter Morgan.

Cellblocks 2020-21

Photo: Robin Hearfield.

LtoR: Collage#1, 2020; Collage#2, 2020; Collage#3, 2021.

Photos: Peter Morgan

LtoR: Darkroom, 2020 (photo Robin Hearfield); Darkroom 2, 2021 (photo Peter Morgan); Darkroom 3 2021 (photo, the artist).

Patchwork mending 2021

Photo: Peter Morgan.

Ethel No.9001, 2020

Photo: Peter Morgan.

Dressed timber 2020-21 Photo Peter Morgan

120:Stamped not sewn#1, 2020-21

Photo: Peter Morgan.

120:Stamped not sewn#2, 2021

Photo: Peter Morgan.

Trolley, 2019

Photos L: Robin Hearfield; R: Michael Sprott).

Wheelbarrow 2019-20

Photo: Peter Morgan.

Grid 2020

Photo: Peter Morgan