The Mother Land catalogue forward

Photograph by Australian artist Alan Jones.
'Head at Carlisle', 2012, digital inkjet on fine art photo rag, 45.7cm x 64cm, edition: 5 + 1AP

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 viewpoint 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 ancestor’s lives before being transported to Australia from where they never returned:

Upon arriving in the harsh environment of New South Wales, both Robert and Isabella would have reflected on their former lives in England. Their memories of ‘The Mother Land’ may have been fond reflections or far from it. It’s 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. Being located in the North of England was essential for gathering the images and the aesthetic that underpins this body of work.

Alan Jones
View exhibition – The Mother Land – Artspace

The Mother Land
15 September – 14 October 2012
Artspace, The Ropewalk
North Lincolnshire, UK