An Artificial Social Protection
The song cycle, titled An artificial social protection, was commissioned from Laura Bowler as part of SLM’s Songs of Home exhibition (Museum of Sydney, August–November 2019), compellingly exploring the experiences of both Australian First Peoples and British immigrants to NSW. Commissioned with the aid of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain, An artificial social protection focuses on the lives of women immigrants to the early colony. Bowler used diaries, letters and historical documents of women who migrated to Australia to create the text of An artificial social protection, combining extracts to produce striking insights into how needlework created early colonial homes. The cycle is made up of five movements, utilising texts from The ladies’ work-table book (1843), texts documenting conditions at the Female Factories and a letter from convict Susannah Watson. The cycle also incorporates many hidden musical references to folk songs that were documented as having travelled to Australia with the convicts, as well as the music of ‘Advance Australia fair’ and the British national anthem. The work not only highlights the treatment of women during this period but also draws parallels with the sometimes archaic expectations placed on women today.
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