The Mother Land
Artspace, The Ropewalk, North Lincolnshire, UK
15 September – 14 October 2012
The Mother Land
Alan Jones’ maternal family heritage can be traced back to British convicts Robert Forrester and Isabella ‘Bella’ Ramsay. Robert and Isabella were both separately convicted for crimes of theft and subsequently received sentences of ‘transportation to New South Wales’.
Jones has long been interested in looking at Australia’s colonial history and the journey of the First Fleet in 1788. It has interested Jones from a personal perspective and also from a broader view point as an Australian. It was these initial 717 British convicts that formed the beginnings of what has become modern day colonial Australia.
In 2012 Jones undertook a 6 month studio residency at The Ropewalk. During this time he began the process of collecting images relevant to his British ancestry. On various road trips through the North of England he collected photographs and drawings of places such as Carlisle and Kirk Andrews upon Esk that are central in the story of the lives and convictions of Robert and Isabella. These outdoor studies became the groundwork for a new body of work that seeks to put together some of the pieces of his ancestors lives before being transported to Australia from where they never returned:
‘Upon arriving to the harsh environment of New South Wales, both Robert and Isabella would have reflected back on their former lives in England. Their memories of ‘The Mother Land’ may have been fond or far from it. It is impossible to know. I have tried to take a contemporary approach to documenting some of the places that would most likely have held familiar memories for them. Actually being located in the North of England was essential for gathering the images and the aesthetic that underpins this body of work.’