art, Forgotten Australians, memories, painting

What Mrs Letherby did for us

Artist Rachael Romero, who was in the The Pines, the Convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Plympton, South Australia shares her painting of an inspirational teacher.

Rachael explains:

Briefly, a kind old woman was brought in to supervise our studies. Her name was Mrs Mary Letherby, she was only there a week or two.
We expected her to think of us as defiled like the nuns did. But she did something nobody else had done–she treated us as human.
She listened to us and accepted us untarnished by the atrocities we’d experienced. We were amazed.
This gave us hope when we had none.
After we got out several of us went to see her. Her compassion changed our lives.
Although she died not long after she has inspired me all my life.

Artwork showing a woman gathering three young women in her arms.
22×30″ copyright Rachael Romero
art, Forgotten Australians, memories, painting

‘The stain is indelible’

by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 5 August, 2011

Artist Rachael Romero, who was in the The Pines, the Convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Plympton, South Australia shares her painting Pines Quadrangle dark with station of cross detail.

Rachael describes its significance:

It was dark the first time I crossed that cement quadrangle–at first I thought I was on the deck of an old ship. I had entered a new confinement.

It was clear that I had been condemned–that my prior life was over. That I was despised by my new jailers.
That the life that loomed before me was now even more dreadful . The idea that I would have to endure an unbearable seven years until
I reached twenty-one and had the power of my own volition was agonizing.

They knew not what they did.
Now they wash their hands, but the stain is indelible.

Painting of two girls with cross and nun in dark quadrangle
Pines Quadrangle dark with station of cross detail by Rachael Romero
art, Forgotten Australians, painting, poetry

‘A Severed Life’

by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 8 June, 2011

Rachael Romero, who was in the The Pines, the Convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Plympton, South Australia, shares her drawing A Severed Life.

Rachael writes about her art work:

Those responsible for our incarceration were looking in the mirror.
How many lives cauterized?
How many hands maimed?
Girls not protected but stained by unwarranted and self-righteous religious and civil presumption of guilt.
Their persecuters were looking in the mirror.

Magdalene Laundry Convent of Good Shepherd Crown
‘Magdalene Laundry Convent of Good Shepherd Crown’ by Rachael Romero
copyright 2011

Forgotten Australians, memories, painting

‘The Mangle’

by Rachel Romero (guest author) on 18 May, 2011

New York artist and film-maker, Rachael Romero, and former resident of ‘The Pines’, Sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent, Plympton, South Australia shares a page from her book which will be published this year.

Rachael’s book is a series of prints documenting the life in the Convent of the Good Shepherd. Regarding her work below, The Mangle, Rachael says,

You … need to imagine immense heat, little ventilation and the din of thundering machinery.

'The Mangle'  copyright Rachael Romero, 2011
copyright Rachael Romero, 2011

 

art, Forgotten Australians, memories, painting, Stolen Generations

Escape and Blood Sisters

by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 16 February, 2011

Rachael Romero shares two of her paintings which depict experiences at the Convent of the Good Shepherd, ‘The Pines’, Plympton, South Australia.

Frederica’s Escape Attempt
copyright Rachael Romero, 1984

Frederica's Escape Attempt
mixed media on rag paper (ink, watercolour) 22 x 30 inches, copy right Rachael Romero, 1984

Freddie tried to rush up the wall over the barbed wire one night. The dogs were barking on the other side. We were all wishing her up and over and out, but of course she got dragged back.

She would keep trying.

Blood Sisters
copyright Rachael Romero, 1984

Blood Sisters
1984, 22 x 30″, mixed media on rag paper (ink, watercolor), copyright Rachael Romero, 1984

Me and Lilly did this because we felt we had become sisters in horror. Lilly had been taken from her mother to a mission then The Pines. She didn’t remember where she was from. I didn’t want to be from where I remembered.

art, Forgotten Australians, memories, objects, painting

Art has always saved me

by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 14 February, 2011

Rachael Romero’s artistic talent enabled her to have time away from slaving in the laundry at The Pines. Here is one of the bookmarks that the Sisters of the Good Shepherd asked her to make.

Bookmark with handpainted roses

Rachael recalls:

So here’s the rub. When the nuns found out I had talent I was asked to make book marks and cards for them to use.

This way I got out of the laundry for an hour or two a week. What relief they locked me in a room alone to paint!

Peace–quiet!

I feigned a religious conversion in order to escape their radar and plot my escape.