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2012 to 2019

Parragirls Memory Project

Context

Parragirls Memory Project is a social history and contemporary art project centered on the former Parramatta Girls Home at the Female Factory in Western Sydney, Australia. Founded in 2012 by former resident Bonney Djuric with artist Lily Hibberd, Parragirls Memory Project foregrounds the experience, history and representation of institutionalised women and children in Australia. It fosters creative opportunities for those with a direct experience of institutional confinement to represent and articulate their own history.

From 2012 to 2019, Lily Hibberd worked in creative collaboration with the former residents of Parramatta Girls Home, which resulted in the production of six major art projects community events, and exhibitions on site at Parramatta Girls Home, and as part of international film and other festivals. The Memory Project has continued under the direction of Bonney Djuric since 2019, and can be viewed here.

Bonney Djuric on the Parramatta Girls Home site in 2012. Photo: Lily Hibberd.

Parragirls Past, Present

Unlocking memories of institutional ‘care'

Parragirls Past, Present is an immersive film presenting former residents’ visions of Parramatta Girls Home today. This 3D 360-degree film records Parragirls' memories as they walk us through the Girls Home. Commissioned by the Big Anxiety festival in 2016, the film navigates the psychological dimensions of lived trauma through contemporary encounters with the institutional site. The work provides new ways to communicate difficult experiences of institutional and childhood abuse.

This landmark 22-minute narrative digital media project was the first work to publicly screen in UNSW EPICylinder, the world’s highest resolution 360 degree 3D cinema. The project was subsequently selected for SXSW international film festival in 2018, and the Adelaide, Perth and Haifa film festivals in the same year. The 6-minute version below was created for the Sydney Film Festival and presented at MIFF Melbourne International Film Festival in 2018.

Creative Development

The project originated in the work of a small group of Parramatta Girls Home former residents, who formed the “Parragirls” support and advocacy group in 2008. Of the three founding Parragirls, Bonney Djuric continued this work to found Parragirls Memory Project with Lily Hibberd in 2012. Their collaboration with other Parramatta Girls focused on art and memory work on the site of the Girls Home. In early 2016, the Parragirls collaboration expanded into digital documentation and new media approaches with the support of the Australian Research Council.

This groundwork was crucial to the development of Parragirls Past, Present, which commenced in late 2016 with the commission of The Big Anxiety Festival. UNSW media artists Volker Kuchelmeister and Alex Davies joined with Lily Hibberd and five Parragirls to create this work, developed over 18 months on the site of Parramatta Girls Home.

Creative Team

Parragirls: Writer/Narrators Bonney Djuric and Jenny McNally; Narrators Lynne Edmondson Paskovski, Gypsie Hayes and Tony Nicholas.

Art Director & Production Design: Volker Kuchelmeister.

Sound Design/Editor: Alex Davies

Writer/Editor: Lily Hibberd

Co-producers: Jill Bennett, Bonney Djuric, Lily Hibberd

Lily's collaboration as co-producer, editor and writer on this project was supoorted with an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.

The Public Secret

Bonney Djuric, Jenny McNally and Lily Hibberd

The Public Secret an immersive video installation produced in 2017 for the Big Anxiety Festival curated exhibition “Group Therapy” at UNSW Galleries, Sydney. Created with Parramatta Girls Home former residents Bonney Djuric and Jenny McNally, the 14-minute three-screen video installation presents the two women's accounts of the welfare system and the survivor’s experience of pubic justice during the Royal Commission inquiry into historic child abuse at Parramatta Girls Home.

The Public Secret exposes the incapacity of Australian judicial inquiries to resolve the failure of the nation’s welfare institutions to care equally for every child. As former residents of Parramatta Girls Home – one of the sites involved in the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse ­­– Bonney Djuric and Jenny McNally have experienced the failure of state care first hand. In The Public Secret they deploy their expertise to investigate the institutions that promise to restore justice and care today. They interrogate the public face of state care and the gaps between its assurances and the reality for survivors.

Parragirls

Reimagining Parramatta Girls Home through art and memory

Edited by Lily Hibberd with Bonney Djuric, this 248-page illustrated book presents the transformative artwork Parragirls realised in collaboration with contemporary artists and communities since the Parragirls Memory Project began in 2012. This vividly illustrated volume reveals how art can change places and perceptions, in this case the long-neglected site of Parramatta Girls Home in Western Sydney, located on the lands of the Burramattagal people of the Darug nation.

Centred on the art and activism of its former residents, this is the first publication of its kind to use images and creative writing to open up the difficult spaces of an Australian former child welfare institution, one where significant abuse took place right up until its closure in 1974, as evidenced in the 2014 Royal commission into child sexual abuse.

The book was published by NewSouth Press 2019. Copies can be purchased from Booktopia on the link to the right.

Memory Projects