Rachael Romero's point of departure as an artist is her own life and experience. She figures if she can go deeply enough her findings will have relevance to others... By observing, re-creating and re-imaging the language of her younger body through the vision of her much older self—she informs her identity with the intention of journeying towards continual resurrection and liberation of self and society.
In 1976...needing images to study foreshortening, she used herself as a model, making a contact sheet to work from. From these images and photos of political prisoners, she carved a block print poster for street posting. ..
At the time she made these photos she was emotionally numb, channeling her unprocessed feelings into outrage at the injustice perpetuated around the world. Always on alert, ready for anything to happen at any time, unknowingly, she was living with undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress. ...
Forward again to late 2011, sorting through her archives, Romero come across this old contact sheet of photos of her former self embodying the contortions of her once buried trauma. She felt her body speaking what she could not then allow herself to feel. When this contact sheet was made, her body was an enigma to her. She felt polluted by her past* and in order to purify herself she used to go on fasts of a week or ten days. ...
*The artist is one of many thousands of young women who were incarcerated in Roman Catholic convents around the world where they were forced to do hard labor without pay in commercial laundries known collectively as Magdalene Laundries.
Senator Andrew Murray referred to The Pines, in his speech to the Senate, Parliament House, 12 March 2008, urging for the Australian Government to make an apology to Forgotten Australians and former Child Migrants:
[There] "were systemic floggings and beatings with a variety of weapons for the most minor misbehaviours. All these acts amounted to criminal assaults punishable by law at the time. And that is the important point. These things that were done to the children were not lawful at the time and yet there was a conspiracy of silence between churches, health authorities, police and others which mostly kept these incidences under cover.
This appalling treatment of vulnerable kids has its match in prisoner of war camps. Places like Bindoon in Western Australia; Goodwood and The Pines in South Australia; Westbrook in Queensland; Box Hill and Bayswater in Victoria; and Parramatta and Hay in New South Wales were akin to concentration camps that incarcerated and brutalised far too many young people in 20th century Australia. Some beatings even resulted in physical impairments later in life."
Aftermath of trauma by Rachael Romero