New chapter

Judith Forrest’s Unfolding Lives. Photo by Moondyne under Creative Commons 3.0

A PLAN to reinstall a significant memorial has been welcomed by people who survived institutional care as children.

The Unfolding Lives artwork by artist Judith Forrest was unveiled in 2010 and dedicated to Forgotten Australians who’d been in state institutions like the Parkerville Children’s Home or the Bindoon Boys Town. 

It featured a child ‘chatterbox’ folded paper toy inscribed with words by author Terri-ann White reflecting care-leavers’ experiences. 

At the time they were overjoyed to see their stories told in such a prominent place in Northbridge Cultural centre, but in 2016 the memorial was removed as part of the museum upgrades with no consultation (‘Drama unfolding’, Voice, July 17, 2021).

Fremantle-based resource service Tuart Place has been representing care-leavers who want the sculpture reinstated, and earlier this month the group met to discuss the sculpture with commissioner for victims of crime Kati Kraszlan.

Ms Kraszlan has now announced Unfolding Lives will be reinstalled though a new location is yet to be chosen. 

Two possible sites have emerged; close to the original location, or near the Elizabeth Quay children’s water park.

“I invite victim survivors to let us know which of these options they prefer, and anything else they want to say about this sculpture, which has enormous cultural significance,” Ms Kraszlan said.

“It is important the location is a well-frequented, prominent public place, somewhere which has particular meaning for survivors of abuse or where the environment allows a focus on the artwork and its significance.”

Tuart Place director Philippa White says there was a strong preference among care leavers at this month’s meeting for the art to go back to the cultural centre.

“People were so delighted in 2010 that it was put in such a prominent position,” Ms White told the Voice. “That was part of their joy, that it had been given such prominence.”

Some care-leavers had concerns about how the sculpture was being stored. 

“It’s sitting in storage and it’s rusting and mouldy,” Ms White says.

The group also spoke with the artist. The main work is not beyond repair and can be de-rusted and rejuvenated. 

The inscribed flooring wasn’t able to be preserved, but Ms White says people were understanding that it would’ve been hard to keep in one piece, and there’s an opportunity now for the new surrounds to have more information about the memorial and institutions and include seating and lighting.

Consultation is open to November 30 via cvoc@justice. or 9264 9877


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