Deborah Klein - 'Fallen Women'

Wednesday 29 November - Saturday 17 December 2017

'For several years I’ve employed silhouettes in my work, primarily as a metaphor for marginalisation or invisibility.

Fallen Women explores the historic connection between the Victorian Goldfields and China during the gold rushes, a period of Australian history from which Chinese women were conspicuously absent.

In 1861 Chinese immigrants made up 3.3 per cent of the Australian population. The vast majority (38,337) were men, compared to only eleven women. For the men, separation from their families was a source of abiding sadness. Their unjust treatment is well documented, but almost nothing is known about the women who remained in China.

In the Victorian town of Newstead, there were over 3000 Chinese miners. Its forest floor is still pockmarked with holes, enduring evidence of its gold mining history. The Eucalyptus leaves in Fallen Women were sourced there because of their significance to the project but also because of their singular shapes - in part the result of interventions by my ‘insect collaborators’, the Eucalyptus tip bugs.

My initial research included a study of historic Chinese women’s hairstyles. Reduced to shadow forms, however, the women could equally be from any place or time, including the present."