What does it mean to be alone? More specifically, what does it mean to be a woman alone?
Historically, women’s emotional narratives have been neglected, diminished or burnished to a respectable gleam. The Australian bush author Barbara Baynton wrote in her painfully bleak short story The Chosen Vessel;
“… when she dared to speak of the dangers to which her loneliness exposed her, he taunted her and sneered at her. …”
Bayton’s stories present a less respectable version of life in the bush, of hardship, neglect and disconnection, flavoured by the weighty omniscience of the Australian bush. Dislocated from ancestral lands, culture, family and safety, Baynton’s women know what alone truly is. This is the experience that I am drawn to give voice.
Disassembling the construction of history and glorified myth, my work navigates the complex space I live in as a colonised coloniser and its attached emotions of belonging to place yet longing for ancestral land connection. Drawing on the creative movement known as Tasmanian Gothic and repurposing the visual language of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, I explore the complex junction of reality and fiction, creating incomplete narratives around the stories we fail to pass on, especially those concerning women.
Inspired by the Female Convict Research group, I aim to reach beyond regular presentations of our shared female past, looking for ways to express emotional history rather than literal histories.
The Chosen Vessel, in Bush Studies, Barbara Baynton, 1902.