Illusions of History

Hugo Michell Gallery, 2016

For the group show Illusions of History  Sue continues to bring together divergent events and stories that occurred around Adelaide from the mid-1800s. These works respond to impressions from tales of people living on the social margins and in places along liminal zones, such as rivers, creeks, swamps, bullock trails and public houses, some of them run by steadfast women such as her great great great grandmother, Mary Bailey. This series of works also responds to the history of the Reed Beds, a large expanse which lies west between Adelaide and the coast. Once a natural floodplain, the environment of this wetland has been drastically altered. After the arrival of  British colonists a thin strip of land hugging the Torrens River was soon scattered with houses, farms, horses and paddocks . Being dispossessed from their source of food along the river through farming, the Kaurna meyunna had to take advantage of other opportunities for finding food such as in time of floods when the ‘natives’ could be seen collecting stray winter melons, and pumpkins, tobacco, palings, rails, and larger timber (South Australian Register Saturday 11 July 1846).  The first female prisoner in the Adelaide Gaol was the Kaurna woman Wariato who was convicted of stealing potatoes from the property of Thomas Payne at the Reed Beds. She was sentenced to 14 days hard labour in March 1841.