This series is my photographic interpretation of the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site in Hobart. I have attempted to elicit the chilling experience of life in this place through composite images indicative of a progression from factual representational to emotive expression.
The Light. This composite consists of a tunnel entrance to a cramped inner cell known as ‘the dust hole’ and part of the chapel window. Through this window prisoners were reminded of life beyond the gaol, freedom gained by turning to God and away from wickedness.
Deadlock. The old chapel lock layered with detritus of a rusty old gate builds this image, evoking vivid memories of cruelty, hardship tolerated by religion.
Other pieces in the Series:
Last Glimpse. This gallows door may have been the last sight of the condemned prisoner before the hood was placed over his head. The peephole of the image encompasses a window from the Port Arthur Penal Settlement that existed contemporaneously with the Chapel Site for 47 years.
Trapped. The gallows trapdoor through which 207 people dropped has an ethereal badge of the convict’s trade upon it.
Sarah Island Traces. The Sarah Island Penal Settlement was closely associated with the Penitentiary. The window catches weak rays of sunlight at certain times in the afternoon backing on to the gallows building. Within this light one might capture a brief glance of the Sarah Island Bay where convicts, under very harsh conditions, constructed many ships for the mother country, England.
Notation. The symbolic representation of this image refers to the authenticity of a prison society in the mid 1800’s, while the shadowy presence of the bathtub reminds us of the strict adherence to ‘cleanliness’ and the Sunday morning bath one inmate following the next, sloshed down with a bucked of cold water from the same tub.
Resilience encapsulates the stoic nature of those who survived their sentence and gained their certificate of freedom. The vivid colour of shadow and the clarity of the crumbling walls dramatically bathed in sunlight portray the energy and determination of those who could not be broken. The web manifests the continuance of life.
SARAH ISLAND TRACES