The Convict and the Jew

Sue Pedley and Tess Horwitz

The Convict and the Jew was a collaborative exhibition with Tess Horwitz in which we investigated our family histories – my Tasmanian convict heritage and her Jewish heritage.

We worked individually to make the three elements of the exhibition, but kept in close dialogue with one another. One darkened gallery space contained two family trees assembled on the wall and six suspended paper sculptures lit from within. In an adjacent space were many smaller works on paper and objects linked together with thread and pins.

My family tree was a mapping of rivers in northern Tasmania, where my great-great-parents – who would later become wealthy land owners in the colony – spent their years as convicts. The rivers were made of cardboard, limewash and wool, in reference to the hidden geology of the land – its limestone caves – and to the wool industry that benefited the colonists at the cost of Aboriginal people’s displacement and genocide.

The Convict and the Jew was exhibited at Canberra Contemporary Art Space in 1999 and 24Hour Art at Darwin in 2000.