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Anne Ferran

“[In the 1980s]…I began to make work about the representation of women and of femininity and to use my daughter and her friends as models…By 1990 though I had become less interested in issues of representation and more interested in real life conditions…

In 1995 I completed my first ‘historical’ project…[It] resulted in an exhibition, Secure the Shadow, which set off a small storm of controversy in museum circles.

Many of the themes and processes established during that residency continue to be important in my work: an interest in forgotten or neglected aspects of the past, particularly the colonial and convict past; a sense that the past persists into the present; a liking for archives and museum collections; a feeling for the expressive potential of cloth and clothing; and an orientation towards the subject of institutions and the women and children confined in them.

The capacity of clothing to suggest an absent body was important for a long time, particularly in the form of clothing photograms. I explored several museum collections in this way, working in the dark, laying the baby’s dress or girl’s bodice directly onto a large piece of photographic paper and briefly exposing it to light (Spill 2002).

The ongoing series The ground at Ross (2001-) began in conscious opposition to the photogram’s translucency and luminosity. I decided to start photographing the empty ground (the site of a former female convict prison in Tasmania, now a sheep paddock) in order to show how little of that history is left and to think about what that invisibility might mean. More recently (INSULA and 1-38 2003, Spoil 2006) I have been focussing on archival records such as birth and death registers and psychiatric hospital records, and making work that tries to ‘release’ the depth of feeling and experience concealed behind them.”

(Anne Ferran 2006)