From FFF Founders – Roses from the Heart Bonnets Project

Around 2003 a Tasmanian resident, Christina Henri, became aware of just how many female convicts had been transported to Australia following a visit to the Female Factory in Hobart. She then dreamed of a bonnet being created for every female convicted transported – 25,566 bonnets.

FFF - Roses from the Heart - First Fleet Bonnets Project

FFF – Roses from the Heart Bonnets Project

By mid 2008, nearly half of the bonnets had been completed by women working alone, and in groups, all over Australia. And it was hoped the rest would be done by 2010.

A memorial service was held at St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Parramatta on April 10 2008, followed by a dinner in “Lachlans” restaurant in the grounds of  Old Parliament House.

At St John’s, in a Procession of the Bonnets,  1600 bonnets were cast into a dinghy set up in the Cathedral. There were already 8000 collected by Christina Henri beforehand.

The bonnet makers constructed them by machine sewing – unlike those hand sewn in the years of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Then they did the embroidery by hand – with each bonnet bearing a female convict’s name.

FFF - Roses from the Heart - First Fleet Bonnets Project

FFF – Roses from the Heart  Bonnets Project

According to one bonnet maker ….

“when I started to embroider her name onto the brim I found myself focusing very closely on the woman herself, thinking about her life, her struggles; wondering whether she had anything pretty, where she scrounged material for her clothes and those of her family; thinking of her having babies with minimal help, bending over her mending by candlelight. So I felt very close to her, and am delighted that she will be remembered in this way.”

Source : FFF “Founders” Volume 39 Issue 3 – May/June 2008

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