In a closed section of the pavilion Elizabeth Day will be exhibiting a series of works that respond to the aggregation of institutions in Parramatta North, from the Parramatta Girls Home, Norma Parker Centre, Parramatta Gaol, Female Factory, to what used to be called the Lunatic Asylum and is now Cumberland Hospital. The 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.
This work was supported by an Australia Council grant and part of the series was developed with the assistance of University of Newcastle’s Centre for Organic Electronics, who used electron microscopy to image carbon nano-tubes for Elizabeth. The images incorporate texts Elizabeth has written based on her experience as a prison educator over the last 25 years, and are intended as an ethical commentary on trauma.
The same texts recur through unravelled wool works laid out on the pavilion floor. These works echo sandstone wall blocks and the archeological footings of the buildings under the platform, revealed through the pavilion’s heritage displays. The pavilion stands on the site of the former Colonial Hospital, notorious for terrible conditions. In the Justice Precinct and adjacent to Jeffrey House—home to the current Parramatta Community Health Centre and Mental Health Team—the pavilion is underpinned by colonial, justice, health and mental health contexts. Here, the works reference the institutional walls of any of the colonial buildings and institutional remnants that connect to this site and broader Parramatta area. These works extend a long-standing body of work by Elizabeth titled “Unravelling of Form” from the early 1990s but are the first works in this series to incorporate text. The words emerge from the unravelled wool, barely readable, but highly visible—asking to be heard.
Images from top to bottom: Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: Crack in Space and Time, 2016. Electron microscope imaging of carbon nano-tubes. Courtesy of the artist and Conny Dietzschold Gallery.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: The Horror Sticks To You, 2016. Altered electron microscope imaging of carbon nano-tubes. Courtesy of the artist and Conny Dietzschold Gallery.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds: The Just Are Not Always Just, 2017. Unravelled wool, muslin backing. Courtesy of the artist and Conny Dietzschold Gallery.
Elizabeth Day, Invisible Words Invisible Worlds, 2016-2017. Composite image. Courtesy of the artist and Conny Dietzschold Gallery.