Blood Sisters in the Convent of the Good Shepherd, Magdalene Laundry by Rachael Romero, 28x22" mixed media drawing on paper.
Lillie and I did this because we felt we had become sisters in horror. Lillie had been taken from her mother to a mission, then The Pines.
She didn't remember where she was from. I didn't want to be from what I remembered.
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This work depicts the experience of the Australian-born, New York artist Rachael Romero, who at 14, in 1967, was sequestered, without charge and without legal trial, in the Convent of the Good Shepherd. ‘The Pines’, on Marion Road, North Plympton, SA, was one of nine commercial ‘Magdalene’ laundries across Australia in the 20th century. Romero recalls, “In this Dickensian throwback, our names were taken. Our identity was taken. We were shocked into an enforced silence and ‘trained’ to carry out dangerous drudgery. Offered no remuneration for such labour we were told to offer it up for the saving of souls in the ‘next life’ and therefore beautify our pitiful selves”.
After all that
I am a woman
not a victim
Does that surprise you?
Please don’t misunderstand me
The branding of that cement quadrangle
Liberated me from obligation
By cauterizing my childhood
it favored my freedom
I survived that last judgement
conveniently caste aside,
an artist, liberated by exile
a woman of grit
stubborn as a weed
It took a half century
to emerge from the
crack in that concrete quadrangle
I've faltered, changed course, but
Even as I mature and die
I throw out seeds
Kerry Packer Civic Gallery, the Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, South Australia University, Adelaide, South Australia. September 5-October 3, 2014
Romero recallis her experience in an Australian Magdalene Laundry with Michael Secton for abc 7:30 Report
“What cannot be said above all must not be silenced but written.” --Jacques Derrida
The point of departure for my activist work comes from my own life experience. Always choosing media that can be widely disseminated, I place this material into a broader context --reaching out to others confronting stigma and injustice and shining light on corrosive secrets. --Rachael Romero
Copyright Rachael Romero
Aftermath of Trauma by Rachael Romero