The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct (PFFP) and PYT Fairfield are forging a pioneering new partnership to explore the Australian experience of institutions for women and young people through the program ‘Women of Parramatta.’   

The program opened with it’s first event on Tuesday 25th June, a LONG TABLE hosted by Bonny Djuric, Brianna Munting and Karen Therese. The event was an invitation only to the partners of Women of Parramatta on the site of the former Parramatta Girls Home.

The PFFP sets out to bring public engagement, critical awareness and cultural activity to the Parramatta Female Factory site. PYT Fairfield continues its practice in making brave and transformative artistic work. Together, we will employ collaborative artistic practice as a major way for the Stolen Generation and Forgotten Australians to connect with each other. The Parramatta site will ultimately be transformed into a space dedicated to women’s cultural practice.

Partners and attendees included Erin Wilkins and Leanne Watson Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation, Jiva Parthipan STARTTS, Rev. Keith Hamilton Parramatta Mission, artists Zanny Begg and Donna Abela who gave a talk on recovering freedom and her recent experiences in Chile.

An excerpt from Donna Abela’s Long table presentation.

“Why write? Why make art? Why follow this urge? … Because art can recover freedom … reclaim and revive debased places and bodies … assert ethical memory … serve as an ethical reference point … draw a line in the sand … Because art can pull the plug on despicable myths … activate new propositions and stories … celebrate life … acknowledge loss … Because – to borrow a phrase from Chilean feminists – it can contribute to the task of preserving the species … Because what is typed – or sung or made or performed or played or painted – can outlive the dictator, the censor, the copper, abductor, the bureaucrat, the Reverend Mother, the legislator who tomorrow might outlaw your need, your poverty, your race, your language, your union, your love for your wife.” 

The event raised issues on how we heal site of conscience, what is the role of communities, of art and what are our responsibilities as custodians of place, history and of each other? As the conversations progressed the importance women’s agency and healing for women in the past, for women in the future became apparent. Together we are finding new ways that will support models of artistic development, creating spaces and mechanisms for intimate engagement and collective action.

Stay tuned for our next planned events.

Image credit: Cass Hannagan