Between Good and Evil
While researching the tattoos that decorated the bodies of the female inmates of the Darlinghurst Gaol, fascinating tales of private sentiments emerged.
Unlike those of their male counterparts the overwhelming majority of tattoos found on the female bodies expressed in textual form the love and yearning they had towards other human beings. Sometimes the tattoos represented anonymous romantic relationships identified only by the lover’s initials; other times the tattoos were explicit declarations of love or longing for family members.
The performance of collecting the tattoos and embroidering them on muslin cloth gives the chance for those words to be spoken and shared once again within the walls of the gaol.
The long hours spent embroidering the 10m cloth also allowed consideration of how these women would have experienced identity, worth, class, and aspirations.
The digital collages, inspired by the craft so popular in Victorian times, free these women from the reductive and oppressive categorisation as criminals and set them free to a world of fantasy that they themselves might have dreamt about once in a while.