The Bonnet Project combines community education programmes and local history to enable participants to be part of an international art project ‘Roses from the Heart’.
The Bonnet Project is funded by the Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board and delivered by the Waterford Women’s Centre.
The Roses from the Heart Project is an international project, remembering 25,566 women who were sentenced to transportation as convicts from Ireland and UK to Australia and Tasmania (formerly named Van Diemen’s Land) between 1788 & 1853.
Approximately 300 of the women were from Waterford. The story of these women is important not just because of its historic relevance but also because it was deliberately obscured from history. Roses from the Heart founder, Christina Henri chose a cloth bonnet, taken from an original 1860s servant’s bonnet, to name and remember each of the women who were forgotten.
The Waterford Women’s Centre identified with the story of the women convicts and the universal social injustice committed by the treatment they received. The Women’s Centre mission is to challenge barriers to facilitate women to participate at all levels of civil society. These convict women experienced multiple barriers, and many were transported simply for being poor. However, when given opportunities in Tasmania or Australia, many flourished and contributed to the growth of these emerging nations.
The exhibition of the Bonnets and the process of making the bonnets is a wonderful exercise in shifting perspectives and highlighting the experience of these impoverished women through the eyes of women today. Along with practical skills, the Bonnet Project facilitates discussion and analysis of history, gender and class through discovering the life stories of these women. The focus of the project, from inception, has been remembering and keeping to the forefront of Irish society memory of these wronged forgotten women.