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Dancing over dark waters : the chapbook / [Gwen Harrison, Sue Anderson & Peter Lyssiotis]
Bib ID 6156927
Format BookBook
Harrison, Gwen, 1947-
Description Sydney : Gwen Harrison and Sue Anderson, 2012 
[32] p. : ill. (some col.) ; 28 cm. 

A chapbook based on the artists' book, Dancing over dark waters. The text is reset, and different images unique to this book appear, except for the cover, which reproduces part of an etching from the main work. The other images comprise linocut relief prints, and an interleaved etching on acid free tissue, which varies in different copies of the edition. The work reveals the three artists' response to one of Sydney's darkest historical colonial sites, Cockatoo Island, an imperial prison, industrial school, reformatory and jail. The text also invokes the present day situation of refugees and refers to "those other islands we use as a noose -- Nauru, Christmas Island, Timor, Malaysia," asking: "When will the time come ... when compassion will span the dark waters like an indestructible bridge uniting us and the best part of our dreams for the future with the best part of their dreams for the future."


Cockatoo Island was established as a convict prison in 1839. It was a place for 'hard labour' where, shackled in iron chains, the prisoners quarried sandstone and guarded by British troops. The convicts built their own gaol, and forged their own prison bars. Much of this still survives, as well as buildings for the prison staff. Below the plateau, they also constructed the Fitzroy Dock, and its associated Steam Workshop. Cockatoo's convict precinct survived because after the prison closed in 1869, the buildings continued to be used; as an industrial school for girls, and again as a prison from 1880 to 1909, but also as offices needed for Cockatoo's later roles as an imperial dockyard, and 20th century shipyard. Cockatoo Island was part of an extensive Australian convict system that stretched geographically from Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean, to Fremantle in Western Australia. In 2010 Cockatoo Island and ten other surviving elements of this system were inscribed on the World Heritage List, being described as 'an extraordinary example of global ideas and developments associated with the punishment and reform of the criminal elements of humanity during the Age of Enlightenment and the modern era.' --Cockatoo Island Government website, as at 4/12/2012.


Variable limited edition of thirty copies.

"This chapbook is the result of a collaboration between Gwen Harrison, Sue Anderson & Peter Lyssiotis, writer of Dancing over dark waters. Handset Gill San[s] & Perpetua & Gothic wood type. Printed on an 1880 Albion & Potter proof press. Linocuts & etchings. Zerkall." --Colophon.

Library's SR copy signed by Sue Anderson and Gwen Harrison.

Subjects Convicts -- New South Wales -- Cockatoo island -- Personal narratives.  |  Penal colonies -- New South Wales -- Cockatoo island -- History.  |  Etching, Australian.  |  Prints, Australian.  |  Artists' books -- Australia.  |  Cockatoo Island (N.S.W.)  |  Quarantine islands.  |  Australian
Other authors/contributors Anderson, Sue, 1948- Dancing over dark waters  |  Lyssiotis, Peter Dancing over dark waters
Exhibited Exhibited in: Quaranta Australis, by Gwen Harrison & Sue Anderson, Manly Art Gallery & Museum, 7 September - 7 October 2012. 


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    Members of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori communities are advised that this catalogue contains names and images of deceased people. All users of the catalogue should also be aware that certain words, terms or descriptions may be culturally sensitive and may be considered inappropriate today, but may have reflected the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written.