INVISIBLE WORDS INVISIBLE WORLDS (PARRAMATTA JUSTICE PRECINCT)

Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds, 2017, installation view at the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion, Parramatta Justice Precinct (works installed in closed section of the pavilion on the floating platform over the archaeological dig exposed footings of the former Colonial Hospital’s women’s ward). Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.

Invisible Words Invisible Worlds, solo exhibition in the closed section of the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion alongside the exhibition Everything is Connected with Everything Else: Myco Logic, in the main open section.
14 – 21 Oct and 25 Nov – 3 Dec 2017.
Curated by Claire Taylor.
Heritage Courtyard Pavilion, Parramatta Justice Precinct, Parramatta.

Elizabeth Day has had a long-standing interest in historic and contemporary institutions and contexts of incarceration and care. The main thematic of her thesis was the Colonial imposition of the prison, which drew her to want to work with the aggregation of institutions in Parramatta North. Her work there since 2013 has engaged with the historic shifts taking place with the redevelopment. The works in the ongoing series Invisible Words Invisible Worlds are responses to the Parramatta North sites and can be read as an ethical commentary on the transgenerational trauma that has been manifested there. The series incorporates texts based on Day’s experience as a prison educator over the last 25 years. Displayed in a closed section of the pavilion these works can only be encountered from a distance, the viewer is kept on the outside looking in.

In one half of the series the texts emerge from (and are at times lost within) rafts of unravelled wool, glued and stitched onto muslin and felt, extending the Unravelling of Form series that Day has been working on since the mid-1990s. The title “offcuts of reason”, from a catalogue of Day’s from that era, asserts itself through these works and connects the different bodies of work shown in the pavilion. In materials these textile works reference some of the earliest manufactures of the women held in the Female Factory but Day’s works counter any notion of productive labour: it is instead a process of unravelling as undoing order, structure, and form; as unlearning conformity; as reconciliation.

The wool-based Invisible Words Invisible Worlds works are laid out across the floor of the platform overhanging the open archaeological pit in the pavilion. This is the area where the heritage displays are housed. The artworks are arranged to suggest footings of walls, marking wards of the former Colonial Hospital, whose actual footings are preserved in the pit below and whose architecture is referenced in the contemporary pavilion structure. On the glass walls dividing these spaces, Day is exhibiting the other half of the Invisible Words Invisible Worlds series: a series of transparencies of altered electron microscopy images of carbon nano-tubes that have been artificially “grown”. The squiggly nano tubes closely resemble offcuts of unravelled wool, and similarly have texts embedded in them. In the highly pixelated images, the grid re-emerges. For Day, these works make a connection between quantum invisibility and the invisibility of the voices of those who have been traumatised while incarcerated or in institutional care. Installing these works on the glass echoes the texts selected by heritage specialists to mark the pavilion’s outer glass walls, noting the cruelty with which the Colonial Hospital was synonymous, but the works speak most powerfully to the justice contexts that surround this site. Day was interested in constructing a wall of the transparencies to reference the sandstone block walls of many of the Colonial institutions that connect to this site and Parramatta North, but here they are dispersed around the platform and pavilion partition, as if fragments of former structures that have come to light.

Extract from room sheet by Claire Taylor. For more see Everything is Connected to Everything Else: Myco Logic, exhibition catalogue.

This exhibition was shown alongside Myco Logic, an evolving participatory project, in the main part of the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion.

This project was presented as part of The Big Anxiety Festival, supported by Property NSW and assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. The electron microscopy imaging was made with the assistance of the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Organic Electronics.

Elizabeth Day, detail of work from Unravelling of Form: Invisible Words Invisible Worlds series, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Dimensions variable. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds, 2017, installation view from main section of Heritage Courtyard Pavilion, looking towards the closed section. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds, 2016-2017, installation view, unravelled wool, muslin, felt (dimensions variable), and adhesive vinyl transparency (45 x 60 cm). Footings of the former Colonial Hospital visible. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: I can’t begin to explain how abuse changed my life, 2017, detail, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: He knew that abuse was going on but wasn’t that interested / It is not necessarily useful to have someone speak on your behalf, 2016-2017, installation view/detail, unravelled wool, muslin, felt, and adhesive vinyl transparency. Footings of the former Colonial Hospital visible. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: It is not necessarily useful to have someone speak on your behalf, 2016-2017, adhesive vinyl transparency of altered electron microscopy imagery mounted to glass balustrade of floating platform in closed section of the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: Whistleblowers on sex crimes can themselves be victimised, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt, and adhesive vinyl transparency. Footings of the former Colonial Hospital visible. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: The just are not always just, 2016-2017, installation detail, adhesive vinyl transparency of altered electron microscopy imagery mounted to glass balustrade of floating platform in closed section of the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Unravelling of Form: Invisible Words Invisible Worlds, 2017, detail, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds, 2016-2017, installation view, detail, adhesive vinyl transparency of altered electron microscopy imagery mounted to glass doors dividing the closed section of the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion from the main section. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: There is a reason beyond the reason beyond the reason beyond that reason / Shame can be very debilitating, 2016-2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt, and adhesive vinyl transparency. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: Shame can be very debilitating, 2017, detail, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: I can’t begin to explain how abuse changed my life / The just are not always just, 2016-2017, installation view/detail, unravelled wool, muslin, felt, and adhesive vinyl transparency. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds, 2017, detail, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: The horror sticks to you, 2016-2017, installation view, detail, adhesive vinyl transparency (45 x 60 cm) of altered electron microscopy imagery mounted to glass balustrade of floating platform in closed section of the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: The truth is better sugar coated, 2016-2017, installation view, detail, adhesive vinyl transparency (45 x 60 cm) of altered electron microscopy imagery mounted to glass balustrade of floating platform in closed section of the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion. Footings of the former Colonial Hospital visible. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, detail of one of the works from the series Unravelling of Form: Invisible Words Invisible Worlds, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: The truth is better sugar coated / Whatever you do don’t talk about it, 2016-2017, installation view, detail, unravelled wool, muslin, felt (dimensions variable), and adhesive vinyl transparency (45 x 60 cm) of altered electron microscopy imagery mounted to glass balustrade of floating platform in closed section of the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: The truth is better sugar coated / Whatever you do don’t talk about it, 2016-2017, installation view, detail, unravelled wool, muslin, felt (dimensions variable), and adhesive vinyl transparency (45 x 60 cm) of altered electron microscopy imagery mounted to glass balustrade of floating platform in closed section of the Heritage Courtyard Pavilion. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: Having a family member in prison is worse than leprosy, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: I can’t begin to tell you how abuse changed my life, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: Whatever you do don’t talk about it, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Claire Taylor/GREYSPACE.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: Whistleblowers on sex crimes can themselves victimised, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Liz Day.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: The just are not always just, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Liz Day.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: She was denied a right of reply, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Liz Day.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: Did anyone ask why she was angry, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Liz Day.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: He knew that abuse was going on but wasn’t that interested, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Image: Liz Day.

Works in exhibition:

Elizabeth Day, works from Unravelling of Form: Invisible Words Invisible Worlds series, 2017, unravelled wool, muslin, felt. Dimensions variable. Clockwise from the left of the door:

Shame can be very debilitating
Abuse tends to repeat itself
They couldn’t imagine what had happened to her during those years
I can’t begin to explain how abuse changed my life
She was forced into the company of her abuser
They fought the British Army bravely for 100 years
It was passed on from generation to generation
Whatever you do don’t talk about it
She was denied a right of reply
It is not necessarily useful to have someone speak on your behalf
The law is not always just
He knew that abuse was going on but wasn’t that interested
The horror sticks to you
Whistleblowers on sex crimes can themselves be victimised
The just are not always just
Did anyone ask why she was angry
Having a family member in prison is worse than leprosy

Elizabeth Day, works from Invisible Words Invisible Worlds series, 2016-2017, adhesive vinyl transparencies (altered electron microscopy of carbon nano-tubes), 45 x 60 cm each. This project was made with the assistance of the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Organic Electronics. Clockwise from the left of the door:

Invisible words invisible worlds
She was denied a right of reply
The just are not always just
The truth is better sugar coated
They fought the British Army bravely for 100 years
It is not necessarily useful to have someone speak on your behalf
The horror sticks to you
Justice entails acknowledgement, recognition and loving attention to detail
There is a reason beyond the reason beyond the reason beyond that reason

%d bloggers like this: