"Second Chances" ~project

          Second Chances is a body of work I have grown to be much more passionate and attached to than I ever thought when I first embarked on this project.  It is a set of 9 women in various states of emotional disconnect.  The original  images are mugshots taken in Australia in and around the 1920's and they have been convicted for a number of crimes ranging from performing illegal abortion, bigamy, larceny, prostitution and even murder.   All served time at the State Reformatory for Women in Long Bay, New South Wales.  My initial attraction to these images of the women was fascination, the fact that you can read their lives up to date in their eyes, and all over their faces.  How talented the photographer must have been to capture this rare moment in his lens,  tangible proof of their condemnation!  I strive to take it one step further and give these women back a little of their dignity by creating and transforming their mugshots into soft, feminine portraits.  I've chosen copper as my canvas, furthering the idea that traditionally copper is the least valued of currency, as are the "dregs of society", as a cultured society would see these women.  Additionally, although the original images are black and white, I've chosen to breathe a little life into the women, adding a subtle palette of rosy-grey hues, though still keeping the ladies humble in a viewer's presence.

        As I've spent time planning each painting, each tone and brushstroke, I've also spent time imagining what each woman's life must have been like to lead up to that moment in front of the camera.   Clearly for some of them, this was the worst moment in her life while others' expressions translate as par for the course, even coming across bored.  It leads one to wonder what ever happened to them once they were released… did they carry on with their lives of petty crime or was it a life changing experience they had in the reformatory.  Another thing I can't help wonder… is it human nature to experience a bond with someone you know nothing about?  Really examining these women's features and facial expressions in detail has led me to think upon each one in a kinder, more forgiving way… to understand that no matter what one has done in life, there is always someone out there who will look upon you in kindness and forgiveness.   Ultimately, "Second Chances" is a show about forgiveness and the beauty we all carry within ourselves if others care to look deep enough.

Dorothy Mort

Annie Gunderson

Ettie Sultana

May Foster

Patsy Neill

Eugenia Falleni

Mary Brownlee

Alice Cooke

Lillian Boland

Annie Gunderson (study)

Dorothy Mort (study)

Alice Cooke (study)

Esther Eggers (study)

 Eugenia Falleni (study)

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