HEAD ON PHOTO FESTIVAL 2012 Solo Exhibition by Rowena Hall

By rowena on April 22, 2012 | Category: Blog | No Comments

As part of the 2012 Head On Photo Festival, my series History Bearing will be featured as a solo exhibition. Details are:

History Bearing – Solo Exhibition

This exhibition will by opened by Film Reviewer, Peter Castaldi

May 2 – 14, 2012

Opening Night – Wednesday, May 2 at 6 – 8.30pm.

Pine Street Gallery

64 Pine Street Chippendale, NSW, 2008

ph: 9245 1503

‘On Women’ Exhibition – featuring ‘History Bearing’

By rowena on February 16, 2011 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Hi all,

This coming Wednesday evening, February 23rd, the group show, ‘On Women’ opens at Chapel Off Chapel, at 6pm. The show goes from 22nd Feb to 13th March and features myself, Craig Blowfield and Grace McKenzie. The show has been put together in celebration of International Women’s Day 2011.

If you reside in Melbourne or are passing through please come along to the opening or pop in over the three weeks it is on. Address is:

Chapel Off Chapel

12 Little Chapel Street


‘History Bearing’ Exhibition – Postgraduate Degree Show

By rowena on November 30, 2010 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Sydney College of the Arts invites you to attend the preliminary exhibition of ‘History Bearing’ as part of the Sydney College of the Arts –


History Bearing will be exhibited in Gallery 2 – Ist Gallery on left when entering main building of SCA

Balmain Rd, Rozelle (enter at Cecilly Street).

Opening Night: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2010 – 6pm (till 8pm)

Exhibition continues to Wednesday 15 December

Monday – Friday, 11.00am – 5.00pm

Saturday to Sunday, 11.00am – 4.00pm

History Bearing – Story of Doctor James Miranda Barry

By rowena on November 30, 2010 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Dr James Miranda Barry: The She-doctor

Margaret Ann Bulkley (alias James Miranda Barry) was born in Ireland in the late eighteenth century. When Margaret and her mother were left with no financial security, Margaret’s maternal uncle, James Barry (an artist and Professor of Painting at London’s Royal Academy) sort help and discussed the problem with two colleagues: Edward Fryer – a physician, and General Francisco Miranda who owned an extensive library. When Barry died in 1806 he left Margaret enough money to pursue her studies and for 3 years she did so with the assistance of Fryer and Miranda. In 1809 the decision was made to dress Margaret as a boy with the help of Fryer, Miranda and Daniel Reardon (the family solicitor). She then attended university in Edinburgh disguised as Mr James Miranda Barry and studied medicine. In 1812 Barry (Margaret) joined the British Army, as a doctor. The following years saw Barry become a very highly revered doctor and surgeon who travelled extensively throughout Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. Barry was the first doctor to perform caesarean sections in the United Kingdom and became known and respected for ‘his’ skill and knowledge in this area. Upon her death in 1865, Barry’s sexuality was discovered. A woman named Sophia Bishop who had been assigned to prepare (his) body claimed that Barry’s body was not only female but showed signs of having given birth during her lifetime.

History Bearing – Story on Pope Joan

By rowena on November 30, 2010 | Category: Blog | No Comments

La Popessa – Pope Johannes VIII

Pope Joan, as she is now known, was born in Mainz, Germany, to a family of English missionaries. In the early ninth-century, denied her desire to be educated, she ran away with her brother so she could study and enter the Holy order. To achieve this she dressed as a boy and became (alias) John Anglius. Joan’s tertiary pursuits were so outstanding that she was elected Pope and the estimated time for her papacy-around the 850’s-is said to have commenced between the reigns of Benedict III and Nicolas I. For two years, seven months and four days she succeeded in hiding her gender until one day when on procession through the streets of Rome, concealing a pregnancy, she went into early labour and gave birth to child. Pope Joan and her baby were executed and buried on the spot. To honour her reign the erection of a bust amongst other past Popes was sculpted for the Duomo of Siena. Pope Joan’s bust was named ‘Johannes VIII, Foemina de Angolia’. However, the Catholic Church denied the existence of Pope Joan and in 1601 Pope Clement VIII declared the legend to be untrue and the famous bust of Johannes VIII was re-carved, relabelled and replaced by a male figure of Pope Zachary.

‘History Bearing’ Project

By rowena on November 12, 2010 | Category: Blog | No Comments

This first blog is to give you an insight into my thoughts and how the series History Bearing was conceived. Next blog will introduce the stories. I will do one per week…… Exhibition opening Sydney College of the Arts, Wednesday December 8, 6pm. Gallery 2.

I will announce this in one blog with address 2 weeks prior to opening.

Cheers, Rowena.

Introduction – History Bearing

The body of work, History Bearing, has aspired from, at its earliest beginnings, my very strong interest in violence towards women and the relationship of this global travesty to religious teachings on women and their bodies. This interest was further fuelled by a deeper awareness gained through a text by Serenity Young, An Anthology of Scared Texts By and About Women, which opened my eyes to the fact that across the four most dominating global religions, (Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism), the teachings relating to women all perceived women as inferior, in one way or another, especially in relation to their fertile bodies.

At this time in 2006, I was considering the attention being paid to religion in the media and the many communities here and abroad that were living in unison with religious practices and teachings. I found it hard to ignore the connection between religion, the current status of women and the continual battle for women to be safe and heard.

On International Women’s Day, March 8 2006, a speech given by the Head of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, outlined the size of the problem of violence against women, and aligned it equally to apartheid being driven by the inaction of global communities and, as she states, “The tendency by family, friends, neighbours and religious leaders is to tolerate, condone or turn one’s eyes away.” At this point I decided to respond through my art practice and became interested in the role art may have played in condoning these doctrines throughout art history and set about researching this.

However, once beginning to research this area I was struck by the lack of the pregnant form in historical depictions of women in western art history. I became more aware of how, throughout western art history, the concept of woman had been consistently expressed in the arts (theatre, literature and fine art) interacting and weaving alongside and within the confines of politics and religion. However, even though historical social confines of women (at least up until the late 60’s of the 20th century) were traditionally restrictive in nature to keep women dignified (and in place), many visual works depicted nude women but very rarely pregnant women. I found that when there were depictions of pregnant women, modern art theorists disputed whether this was the case and further censored the pregnant body by denying that pregnant looking subjects were indeed pregnant. I feel that there is an alignment between the censorship of the pregnant form, religion and continued violence towards and control over women and their bodies.

Having photographed the pregnant body for some 15 years, I’ve become very aware at how seldom the pregnant body is explored as an art form today and in art historically. Hence, it made sense to change my conceptual direction (focusing on religion) and concentrate on the omission of the pregnant body in art history and set out to create a body of work that at least attempts to rectify these omissions with an air of respect but perhaps some humor as well.

A Big thank you – I am now LIVE.

By rowena on November 4, 2010 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Dear Friends…

I am sitting here in Noosa after a long week of work towards the creation and launch of this site.  I am so excited to have got this up and running so quickly and beautifully. I’d like to say a BIG thank you to my dear friends Karen and Matt Bennell of White Space Media, and their colleague Matt Heyes for making this happen. Many many thanks to you all.

Other folks to thank in relation to my current work History Bearing are: Tom Luscombe for tirelessly lighting my shoots with such dedication, enthusiasm, love, creativity and extraordinary talent; The staff at the Australian Centre for Photography for turning a blind eye to hay bails and sand in the studio; Annie Wright for her beautiful self and props early on in the series; Catherine Gleeson for her never ending energy and expertise in helping me prep images for the upcoming exhibition (details to come); my Grannie for many many reasons; my beautiful boy Michael for his patience, encouragement and love; all the pregnant women who have modeled for me so patiently and selflessly; and Dr Stephen Gapps… for coming on board with history, costumes, props and generosity.

If I’ve forgotten anyone, I’m sure that on a new day, it will come to me and I’ll blog it! Because I can! xxx


Follow me

To keep updated with exhibition information you can either subscribe to receive notifications from this blog, or you could just as easily follow me on facebook. Please select your preference below.