by Wilma Robb (guest author) on 9 December, 2009
Wilma Robb was incarcerated in Parramatta Girls Home and Hay Institution for Girls. One way she tells her story is through painting.
Black, Blue and Raw
Wilma Robb (Cassidy) 2005
This hung in an exhibition “Forgotten Australians” at NSW Parliament house from 11 April-28 April 2005. Supported and Arranged by Forgotten Australians Jools Graeme, Melody Mandena, John Murray
Black, Blue and Raw depicts my time in Parramatta and Hay.
At Hay, I experienced a sadistic, martial discipline the (Silent Treatment outlawed in the late 1800s) designed to break the human spirit. These days we would describe it as a form of ‘programming’. At Parramatta, I experienced psychological abuse, rape, neglect and other forms of violent torture at the hands of state employees.
No-one sees what is hidden inside me. Here are the memories I have tried to suppress. Here is the sub-conscious record of life-destroying events, festering.
The little girl at the centre is me. The eyes overseeing the evil are those of one of my abusers, captured by camera from a television screen.
When I was 18, my baby was taken from me by Welfare, within minutes of his birth.
To me, yellow and purple signalled hope. At Hay, we experienced regular solitary confinement, enforced silence and regimentation. Also, they took our eyes.
At Hay, they tried to turn us into unthinking robots by brainwashing and deprivation. The Hay mask has a robotic expression and a head that has been messed with severely. My memory of Parramatta is dominated by the violence of the staff – I lost my teeth and had my face smashed. The mask has had its features flattened and is flesh softened by fists.