Port Arthur Echoes

The evolution of this piece emerged from encounters with texts, travel guides, and journals, unveiling the distressing history of women transported across the globe for seemingly trivial offenses.

John Glover’s idealised landscapes, characterised by a subtle palette of natural colours, served as a catalyst for my own visual narrative, seeking to manipulate the truth of this colonial history from the perspective of a new Australian. Through a meticulous combination of pencil, ink, acrylic paint, gouache, and period wallpaper on board, I aimed to create a work that is stoic, still, and remarkably beautiful. The undulating background, reminiscent of the waves of the convicts’ journey, the floating dress, a poignant symbol taken from the story of Maria Swinchatt, and the “forget-me-not” flower tattoos worn by the female convicts echo the profound injustice faced by women in a society grappling with its own demons.

Port Arthur Echoes” is not merely a visual representation but, a reflective exploration of Tasmania’s past. It questions the transformation of a prison into a tourist location, prompting viewers to contemplate the delicate balance between remembering the past and moving forward.

In this piece, I offer a visual narrative that delves deep into the historical echoes of Port Arthur and other facilities, weaving together the threads of colonial history, societal norms, and the resilience of those who endured.

Robert Lee Davis


Mixed medium collage, pencil, ink, acrylic paint, gouache, and period wallpaper on board