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(38) Anne O'Connor - White Coal


About this Artwork

In the 1950’s, the Tasmanian Hydro Electric Commission was formed. Their purpose was to create electricity out of Tasmania’s wild rivers, harnessed through the building of large dams. This water was referred to as ‘white coal’.
With these dams, came a huge workforce of men, many of whom were refugees to Tasmania from war torn Europe. With them came their wives and children. Alternately, the wives and children came later, living together in tiny huts close to the construction.

In the snow and in the rain, or in the heat of summer, the work didn’t stop. To the employers, the men served a purpose but their own purpose was different. They came to build a life in a new country and become part of it, but they were not made welcome because of their differences. For some, violence was not far from home, but they lived through it all. It was white vs. black for many.

This work is about them, about the division, but in particular, about the women. To me, stitching is a way of life, a way of keeping things together. We could say the water was taken and ‘stitched’ into place to create power. Women too are a source of power in holding things together. Hence the use of thread to represent the term ‘white coal’.

About Anne

Tasmanian artist Anne O’Connor works in a variety of media, with photography her passion. She received a Bachelor of Social Work at UTAS in1991 that became her profession until she retired. At that point she re-enrolled again at University to take her art practice further, graduating with a Bachelor of Contemporary Art (Visual) at UTAS in 2015.

Anne’s work is about light, shade, relationships, colour, texture and form. She finds that the relationship between these elements is the trigger for her response. Creating a story that can inspire imagination or evoke memories of time or place.

Her imaginative side is seen within the abstract designs she creates in camera or with the use of other mediums, letting them flow naturally to find their own equilibrium and design. At times she embellishes her work with hand stitching, another medium of creativity.

Anne has exhibited in many solo and group shows within Australia and overseas and her artwork is held in many private collections across the world. She won the Scone Photographic Art Prize in 2018 and was a finalist in the Mullins Australian Conceptual Photographic Art Prize in 2019, the Bay of Fires Art Prize (both in 2017 & 2014), the Field Art Prize (UTAS 2015), and the Birchall’s Art Prize (2014). She was the first woman & the 3rd Australian to be awarded a Masters in Photographic Art by the Federation of International Photographic Art (FIAP) in France 2014. She is represented by Nolan Gallery in Salamanca, Hobart.

Link to Anne’s Art Aviso profile HERE

Anne was supplied the following page from Newnes’ Pictorial Knowledge Encyclopedia:
Volume 3
The story of the world and its peoples – Countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
White Coal for Tasmania.

Anne O'Connor
Mixed medium, ink,pastel and cotton thread onto acid free Canson water colour paper .
$320 AUD