Students Abroad to Learn about Tasmania’s Female Convicts

11/06/2009

A new documentary exploring the lives of Tasmania’s Female Convicts will soon be shown in classrooms across Australia and New Zealand.

The Minister for Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts, Michelle O’Byrne has congratulated Catherine Pettman and Andrew Wilson for securing a five year distribution deal with their film, titled Voices in the Dark.

“The documentary focuses on installation artist Christina Henri’s epic Roses from the Heart Project, commemorating the lives of the 25,566 female convicts transported to Australia,” Ms O’Byrne said.

“Through these two creative endeavours, these artists have played a very important role in bringing stories of the women and children who spent time at places like the Cascades Female Factory to life and sharing them with a whole new generation.

“I think it is wonderful that students across Australia and New Zealand will have the opportunity to learn more about Australia’s female convict history.’’

Ms O’Byrne said that through the Roses from the Heart project Christina has inspired thousands of people from around the world to sew bonnets in empathy with Australia’s convict women and their children.

“Projects like these remind us of just how relevant heritage is to so many aspects of today’s Tasmania, whether it be to art or education or finance and how important heritage is to our sense of community.”

Ms Henri said it was hoped the film would connect the contemporary public with the idea that to truly understand ourselves we need to trace our ancestry and know where we came from and from whom.

“One in four Australians have convict ancestry. Convict women have been maligned and their worth hidden under a veil of amnesia because of the ‘convict stain’,” Ms Henri said.

Ms O’Byrne said The Cascades Female Factory is one of the few remaining female factory sites in Australia and is part of the Australia Serial Convict nomination for World Heritage.

“This site is of great importance to the State and Australia – indeed, as it speaks to people far beyond our shores, I believe it is of world heritage significance.’’

The Female Factory operated between 1828 and 1856. More than half the 25,000 women transported to Australia came to Van Diemen’s Land, and most had a connection or association with the Cascades Female Factory.