Anne Ferran - Lost to Worlds

Exhibition: 28 June to 21 July, 2001

Anne Ferran

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Anne Ferran uses contemporary photography as a means to recall a vanished past. She works with the residues of Australian colonial history, particularly of women and children, closely examining the often meagre evidence of their lives.

Lost to Worlds concentrates on spaces of incarceration. It was created in response to two convict sites in Tasmania, the former Female Factories at Ross and at South Hobart. Today all that remains of them is an uneven grassy field at Ross, and at South Hobart an empty rectangular yard bounded by a high stone wall. Ferran plays with the invisibility of this history, offering groups of images that picture the sites in different ways. Large-scale black and white photographs show the ground as it appears today, its grassy surface empty or littered with stones. Original photos by John Watt Beattie are mined for the details of long-vanished buildings. Items found during archaeological excavations, some barely distinguishable from the ground in which they were found, are depicted. Human presence makes a fleeting appearance in a fragment of video.

Intellectually and emotionally engaging, Lost to Worlds is a lament, in part for the ongoing difficulty of grasping and making sense of a ruined and fragmented past, and for the hundreds of babies who died in the crowded, unhealthy nurseries of the factories.