Amy (2015) with her ancestor André Masséna (1792) 





Sarah RHODES


Amy stands in her grandmother’s home in front of a portrait of her ancestor André Masséna (1792) - Duke of Rivoli and Prince of Essling. Massena was a French military general and one of the finest commander’s in Napoleon’s army. He fought in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The original portrait hangs in the Palace ofVersailles, France.


Amy is part of a new generation of women growing up in a world where patriarchies are slowly loosening their grip and exerting less control. Women are taking more roles of influence and power, but are still impacted on by the past.

This portrait of Amy is part of a new series of works looking at the factors outside our control that decide who we become. We don’t choose which family we are born into, our ancestors, and their embodied or cultural memory. We don’t choose the country we are born into, its landscape or climate. 

Identity and how it is shaped is fascinating –– the question of nature versus nurture can never be answered.

I am exploring these ideas in Tasmania. An island at the end of the world known for its gothic landscape, extreme weather conditions and wild terrain. Tasmania has a haunting convict history; shortly followed by a golden era in agriculture. Tasmania is a wonderful backdrop to explore how ancestry and landscape shape identity.

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