A new exhibition at Old Government House explores the lives of convict artisans who used their skills to transform their place of exile into a thriving modern settlement.
Making Good: Convict Artisans in Exile, running from 5 March – 27 November, tells the stories of skilled convicts connected to Old Government House and more broadly the colony. The exhibition explores how those forcibly banished to the antipodes used their skills and acumen to become independent businesspeople who furnished the homes of their captors. These convicts were instrumental in transforming a place of exile into a modern settlement with a thriving local economy.
Through an exploration of convict artisan crafts, we turn the lens onto convict ingenuity, skill, perseverance, and entrepreneurship. Bereft of family and exiled from their home, convicts produced and sold their wares to ultimately gain their freedom in the colony, seizing all opportunities. While this exhibition showcases the artisan and exquisitely made wares made by convict hands, the exhibition is fundamentally about the lives of these people told through their objects.
From convict love tokens to beautifully detailed silverware, the exhibition includes furniture made by Laurence Butler and Alexander Hart, clocks by James Oatley, art by Joseph Backler and Joseph Lycett, pottery by John Moreton and Jonathan Leak, and textiles made at the Parramatta Female Factory.
An exciting component of the exhibition is a multimedia artwork created by a Western Sydney artist in response to a convict made bed, exploring the ideas of industry, the convict labour system, and the impact that making a colony had on the Indigenous people forced from their land.
Access: Please note this exhibition is located on the top floor of Old Government House, up a flight of stairs.
This exhibition runs Saturday 5 March – Sunday 27 November 2022 in accordance with Old Government House opening hours and days, as listed below. Last entry at 3.30pm for 4pm closing.
How to book your tickets
Your exhibition ticket also grants full access to the house.
Book via Eventbrite where possible, to guarantee a spot, unless you are redeeming a Service NSW $25 Discover voucher. You are welcome to use your voucher at this National Trust Property when you purchase your tickets upon arrival.
Please contact the property direct using the details below.