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Dancing over dark waters / Gwen Harrison & Sue Anderson, Peter Lyssiotis
Bib ID 6191538
Format BookBook
Harrison, Gwen, 1947-
Description Sydney : Gwen Harrison and Sue Anderson, [2012] 
[14] p. of leaves (folded) : col. ill. ; 55 cm. in 56 x 45 x 3 cm. clamshell box. 

An artists' book. 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 seven copies.

The artists have also produced a chapbook, in an edition of 30 copies, based on this work.

"A collaboration between Gwen Harrison, painter & printmaker; Sue Anderson, letterpress printer & designer binder; Peter Lyssiotis, artist & writer who contributed the prose. Multi-plate intaglio prints using handcut etched & found & manipulated steel plates, chine colle & letterpress. Handset Gill San[s] & Perpetua, Gothic wood type. Charbonnel ink on Maguani Corona 310 gsm"--[Colophon].

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


Fully bound in black kangaroo leather, with inlaid strip of black goatskin over join suggesting quarter binding. Front cover distressed with blind impression. Leaves sewn on four recessed cords with hand-sewn head bands of black and grey silk thread. Grey cloth clamshell box with grey-green textured paper linings made by Wayne Stock. 

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-  |  Lyssiotis, Peter
Exhibited Exhibited in: Quaranta Australis, by Gwen Harrison & Sue Anderson, Manly Art Gallery & Museum, 7 September - 7 October 2012. 

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags
Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other First Nations people are advised that this catalogue contains names, recordings and images of deceased people and other content that may be culturally sensitive. Please also be aware that you may see certain words or descriptions in this catalogue which reflect the author’s attitude or that of the period in which the item was created and may now be considered offensive.