Rani Lakshmibai

Rowena Hall, 2011

Rani Lakshmibai
The Queen (Rani) of Jhansi is legendary with regard to resistance to British rule in India. Considered India’s ‘Joan of Arc,’ she was one of the integral figures leading the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Lakshmibai was born to a Brahmin family in November 1835. At the age of 14 she was married off to Gangadhar, the Raja of Jhansi, to whom she had one son who died at four months old. The couple later adopted another son, for whom she would have to fight for his rights to her land after her husband’s death in 1853.The Rani’s esteemed position enabled Lakshmibai to not only be trained in horsemanship and archery, but to establish her own all female army. In 1858, Lakshmibai died at the hands of the British in the battle to save Gwalior Fort (Uttar Pradesh).  Her progressive views on women’s empowerment, along with her bravery and heroism in 19th century India, is honoured by two statues of her in Jhansi and Gwalior, which depict the Rani going into battle on horseback for the Indian Rebellion.

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.