Hundreds on Hobart docks for female convict tribute

A SEA of bonnets overtook Hobart’s Hunter Street wharf on Mother’s Day to celebrate artist Christina Henri’s installation project ‘Roses from the Heart’.

Dr Henri’s art project involves the making of handmade cloth bonnets to memorialise the 25,566 convict women transported to Australia from Britain and Ireland between 1788 and 1853.

Sparked by a visit to Hobart’s Female Factory in 2013, Roses from the Heart has been a labour of love for Dr Henri for more than a decade.

“I knew about male convicts, but until [the Hobart Female Factory] I knew nothing about the women and I wanted to share their stories,” Dr Henri said.

“So, I came up with the idea of using the bonnets to symbolise each of those 25,566 women who endured so much.”

Joining Dr Henri and the hundreds wearing bonnets on the day was the Speaker of the House of Assembly and Member for Denison, Elise Archer MP, and Hobart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey.

Ms Archer has been a supporter of Dr Henri’s project for several years and said it was gaining worldwide attention.

“This installation is a unique way in which to acknowledge the immense contribution these women made to our emerging nation,” she said.

“While once having a convict ancestor would have been something that stayed shrouded in secrecy, Tasmanians are now proud to tell of their convict heritage and the ways in which they helped to make our state what it is today.”

Dr Henri – who invited people throughout the world to make the cloth tributes with the names of each woman sent to Van Diemen’s Land – only has around 800 bonnets remaining until her collection is completed.

For more information on the project, visit www.christinahenri.com.au

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