The installation ‘Woman’ is a work which draws on the themes of maternal love and the pioneering spirit – women of the Wollombi district. The installation celebrates childbirth and survival, whilst referencing child mortality in the Hunter Valley district. More particularly it pays homage to the mother of Thomas Bellamy (aged 11 months) who died on Christmas Eve of 1846, the first burial in the Wollombi Cemetery. The anatomical drawing which dominates the lower region of the sculpture is a uterus, symbolic of reproduction. Books as features of learning feature at the top of the frame. Beverley Gordon (1996) writing on the female body states; “Woman was seen as the embodiment of the home… and an extension of her corporal and spiritual self” (p. 126).
Dr Melissa Laird trained as a graphic designer prior to undertaking post-graduate study. Her research interests include material culture scholarship and visual intelligence. Laird’s Doctoral thesis (2009) was entitled Remnant and Reliquary: Fragmentary Traces Reconciled as Object and Knowledge. Material culture research and the lives of Women, Australia1788-1901. Notions of ephemeral, transient and fragmentary artefacts as significant models for historical study underpin her work. She exhibited at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum Sydney in 2009, and won the Groundswell Project People’s Choice Award in ‘Hidden: A Sculpture Walk’ at Rookwood Necropolis in 2010.