Christina Henri is a Tasmanian artist who is coordinating a project called 'Roses from the Heart' that pays tribute to the 25,566 convict women transported from Great Britain to Australia in the early nineteenth century. Interested people have been invited to make a simple calico bonnet, based on a contemporary pattern, to represent each of these women, and the first major exhibition is to be in Hobart on May 9th 2008. After that initial exhibition, it will be seen in Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra before being taken to the British Isles, Ireland, Denmark, Canada, America and New Zealand. Eventually the bonnets will be on permanent display in Hobart.
Irishwoman Mary Margaret Quinn received a life sentence for highway robbery at her trial in 1800 in Newry, County Down. There are few detailed records of women in the early days of transportation, and some records have been lost, so I do not know her age, but she is listed as having had two children. She was one of 37 women on the ship Rolla that sailed from Cork on November 4th 1802, arriving in Sydney 189 days later on May 12th 1803. I have no ancestral link with Mary, but she was the only woman on that transport who came from what is now Northern Ireland, just near Belfast from where my Mother came, and that seemed to be reason enough to choose to make a bonnet for her. This is it.