Parramatta Girls: 'exposed to moral danger'

Parramatta Girls: Lily Hibberd with artist Gypsie Hayes in the former segregation cells where an installation work will be on display. Picture: Lucy Parakhina.

Parramatta Girls: Lily Hibberd with artist Gypsie Hayes in the former segregation cells where an installation work will be on display. Picture: Lucy Parakhina.

A building once used to imprison so-called "wayward girls" will throw open its doors for an art and history exhibition on Friday.

Bethel House, within the former Parramatta Girls Home, Fleet Street, North Parramatta, will display a preview of the EMD exhibition from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

"It's a powerful building," said one of the project's curators, artist Lily Hibberd.

"In the confinement rooms, there's the markings and scratchings of the women who were locked up there, scored into the skirting boards. One of the artists involved, Christina Green, her name is actually there."

Ms Hibberd said the exhibition was drawn from a year-long "memory project" at the site by former girls' home inmates, artists and writers to depict the institutionalisation of people there.

The child welfare institution operated from 1887 until 1974.

"EMD means exposed to moral danger, which was the criminal charge many of the girls went to court for. They were charged as criminals for their own neglect, so if your parents abandoned you, it was your fault," Ms Hibberd said.

Artists include memory project co-ordinator and former ParraGirl Bonney Djuric, Christina Green, whose autobiography The Life of Riley will be launched at the exhibition, Leanne Tobin, Elizabeth Day and Gypsie Hayes.

The exhibition coincides with Alana Valentine's play Parramatta Girls showing at Riverside Theatres.

The exhibition will also open on Saturday from 5.30-7.30pm, with subsequent viewings from May 12-18, from 11am to 4pm.

Details:pffpmemoryproject.org

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