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Awarded for service to the Arts
Entered on roll: 2013
Bonnets which have captured a nation.
Conceptual artist Christina Henri was born on 6 April 1949 in Hobart and is taking Australia's female convict story to the world.
When Christina visited the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site in South Hobart in 2003, she was captivated by the female convict story and has worked tirelessly ever since to highlight the plight of convict women and their children.
Christina's early works used images and installations of christening bonnets to focus on the high infant mortality rate at the Female Factory. Recent research indicates more than 1 000 children born to women incarcerated in the Female Factory are thought to have died.
Since 2007, Christina has been working on Roses from the Heart, the first ever memorial to the 25 566 women sentenced as convicts and transported to Australia from 1788 to 1853. Roses from the Heart invites people from around the world to make and contribute a servant's bonnet to symbolise the life of each convict woman. In 2012, male and female prisoners from two Dublin prisons, presented Christina with 800 bonnets. So far 22 000 bonnets have been received for what will become an international tour site and permanent memorial in Tasmania.
Christina holds regular public events and performances such as Blessing of the Bonnets ceremonies and talks to community groups to highlight the female convict story and remove the 'convict stain'. Many such events have been held in regional Australia to enrich the historical and cultural life of isolated communities.
In 2010, Christina was the main exhibitor of the Festival of Quilts at the National Exhibition Centre, in Birmingham, in the United Kingdom.
Christina wrote a weekly column about the lives of convict women for The Mercury from 2007 to 2012 and appears regularly on ABC Radio.
Christina completed her PhD in visual and performing arts in 2011. Her research focussed on 'Engaging the Convict Legacy: Art's Role as a Means of Understanding'. Christina has been the honorary artist in residence at the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site since 2003.
Photo credit: Pat Whitford