Visitor perceptions of Port Arthur catalyst for works of art
Tasmania’s iconic heritage drawcard, Port Arthur, is a photographer and artist’s dream but one American artist is looking deeper into the fabric of the former penal colony to provide inspiration for her work.
California-based painter Tia Factor is spending four weeks at the Port Arthur Historic Site as part of Arts Tasmania’s International Natural and Cultural Residencies Program.
Although only in its second year, the residency program has been embraced by the overseas arts community, and positions are highly sought after.
The idyllic locations on offer – such as Port Arthur, Maria Island and Lake St Clair - provide a unique opportunity for artists to develop their work, whatever their artform.
Like Tia Factor, they tell their stories as a “response to place”.
Tia has set up a makeshift studio in “the hostel”, a small house adjacent to the PAHSMA administration centre.
She has spent the last month photographing the landmarks, interviewing visitors to the historic site on her Ipod, transcribing the conversations, filtering the information and then representing it as a painting.
“I have spoken to many people here and many have been willing to share their thoughts,” Tia said.
“Two teenage girls spoke about the dark beauty of the place. They talked about the Isle of the Dead and said they experienced a haunted feeling.
“They were following the life of a boy convict who had been sent to Port Arthur for stealing a loaf of bread.
“The girls also were touched by the sight of a baby crib in one of the old houses and mentioned a set of narrow stairs.”
Tia grasped these images and is working on painting encompassing those elements.
She will be hosting an exhibition of her work from October 5 to 28 at the gallery 5a in Newdegate St, North Hobart.
Arts Tasmania’s International Natural and Cultural Residencies Program offers low-cost accommodation for a minimum of four weeks.
Sensitivity and respect towards the environment is a given, and participating artists are expected to be comfortable with the idea of living and working in relative isolation.
Arts Tasmania assists towards the cost of airfares and rent.
As well as being a wonderful opportunity for the artists, the program plays an important role in the creative development of the arts in Tasmania.
Tia’s project is being documented on DVD. Staff from DTAE’s communications and IT units spent a day with the artist a Port Arthur filming her interviewing visitors and working in her studio.
Tia photographs the Port Arthur landmarks highlighted in her interviews with visitors
Tia interviews a visitor about Port Arthur
The transcribed interview is matched with relevant photos to help gel the plan for the painting
Cameraman Len Gay and IT's Lexi Clark with Tia in the studio
Tia at work in her Port Arthur Studio