Contributor, Parramatta Female Factory Memory Project History Symposium.
26 & 27 Sept 2013.
Centre for Public History, UTS, and the Centre for Creative Practice and Cultural Economy.
Elizabeth Day, Gardens and Prisons: The prison as an image on an ancient country and the garden as a spatial historical form presenting a vision of projected future, symposium paper.
The use of the garden was discussed in Elizabeth Day’s recent Doctorate, Discontinued Narratives of Migration: A Visual Practice with Earth as a practice arriving via the feminine which is re-animated via a link to major, twentieth-century American artist, Robert Smithson’s Site/Nonsite concept. The garden also asserts as a form what for Day was lost through migration, for a generation the language of the maternal line. Her own grandmother was incarcerated and left behind when the family moved to Australia. This is an experience that was swathed in secrecy and shame. The gesture of the Asphalt Rundown by Smithson (after Pollock’s ‘drips’) brought the question of mining to play in the galleries of Manhattan. In recalling the image of a garden in a prison project, an artwork within a prison, Day will bring forward this other field of neglect to think about how important such projects, as an earlier one in a women’s prison and the current PFFP are, in examining these powerful and extremely lingering affects in order to disperse them. She will briefly outline her ideas on the current design which she sees as a multi-sensory ‘painting’.
In 2005 Day developed and co-ordinated a layered historical garden at a Sydney Women’s Correctional Centre in close association with female prisoners in her capacity as arts educator. The participants were mainly Aboriginal and migrant women. She co-ordinated this creative development ‘inside’ based on the inmates’ cultural input. She will discuss this project here from a number of perspectives and think about how her discoveries as an artist and prison educator might impact on the current usage of the former Parramatta Women’s Prison Project. She wants also to consider the surrounding affect of shame in this work and how the broader Memory Project might work to dispel this profound affect.
NOTE: As part of her involvement in the founding activities of the Parramatta Female Factory Project, Elizabeth Day developed detailed drawings and plans for a memorial garden in the grounds of the former Parramatta Girls Home, and cultivated extensive grass roots castings.