Mary Bryant

Rowena Hall, 2010

Mary Bryant
Mary Bryant was born Mary Broad, 1 May 1765 at Fowey, Cornwall, England. On 20 May 1786 she was charged with assault and robbery at the Exeter Assizes and sentenced to death. Her sentence was commuted to transportation for seven years, and she was transported aboard Charlotte in the First Fleet to Botany Bay. On the voyage she gave birth to a baby girl whom she named Charlotte, after the ship. At Sydney Cove, on 10 February 1788, Mary married William Bryant, a Cornish fisherman. In April 1790 Mary and William had a son. On 28 March 1791, the Bryant family and seven convicts escaped in the governor's cutter and they endured a hazardous voyage to Timor. They landed at Koepang on 5 June, after travelling 3254 miles (5237 km) in 69 days. Mary and her party posed as survivors from a wreck on the Australian coast. The truth leaked out and on 17 September Captain Edward Edwards arrived at Koepang and took them in his charge on 5 October to return to England and stand trial. During the voyage all of Mary’s family perished at sea. On 7 June at the Old Bailey in London, Mary and her remaining companions escaped the death penalty but were kept in custody. After much public pressure, Mary Bryant was pardoned on 2 May 1793 and her four companions pardoned the following November.

The "History Bearing" series is designed to reveal historical stories of women whom art history has not represented honestly or at all. By placing pregnant women in historical costume I am readjusting the way the female body was historically represented. In addition to this, given that the historical narratives within the works are based on claimed true stories, the work is also revealing a history about the chosen subjects not commonly known or (visually) accessible.

About Rowena Hall

Rowena Hall is a emerging photo-media artist who has worked in the Arts for almost 20 years. In addition to her experience in the performing arts, she has worked as the Workshop Manager at the Australian Centre of Photography, participated on the Board of Directors for First Draft Gallery before spending nearly 6 years with the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in Sydney. This involved working within the Cinematography, Research, Digital Media and Foundation Diploma departments of the AFTRS. In 2010 she completed her Masters of Visual Arts in Photo-media at and graduated with her MVA from Sydney of University in 2011.

Rowena’s visual life began when receiving a second-hand Nikon FG20 SLR camera as a thank you for voluntary work on a low budget Tasmanian feature film in 1992. It was the beginning of a journey into ‘seeing’ where, teaching herself how to use the camera, she photographed her local and international experiences whilst working in the performing arts over a five-year period. The photographic work resulted in an invitation to attend the Tasmanian School of Art in 1996 to study photography and art. In 1998 Rowena transferred back home and completed her BVA degree at Sydney College of the Arts in 1999.

The work experience Rowena has gained, including stage management, set building, lighting, and film stills combined with her art practice has resulted in her producing a new body of photographic work reminiscent of tableaux vivant and cinematic stills. This current work, History Bearing is a conceptual continuation of her work in photographing pregnant women which she has practiced for many years. Rowena is dedicated to human rights, particularly women and girls, where much work to create safety and equality is still very much ongoing globally.