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Campus News : July 2010
10 Campus News July 2010 University of Wollongong www.uow.edu.au Linen memorial reflects Irish pain Dr Lycia Trouton Doctor of Creative Arts 2005 When artist Dr Lycia Trouton conceived her defining artwork, The (Irish) Linen Memorial, after a visit to Northern Ireland in 1999-2000 she didn't imagine it would gain international recognition and be exhibited around the world. She also didn't imagine that it would take a decade to complete and become such a large part of her identity as a sculptor. But The Linen Memorial has done that, and much more. It has also taken her on a journey that included four years at the University of Wollongong's Faculty of Creative Arts, where the work was a pivotal part of her doctoral studies (as part of an ARC grant for research into post-colonial text and textiles). Lycia graduated from UOW as a Doctor of Creative Arts in 2005, and is now Head of Theory in the University of Tasmania's School of Visual and Performing Arts in Launceston. After completing her doctorate she held short-term teaching positions at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory and the University of South Australia in Adelaide, and also worked as a freelance artist/writer-in residence. All the while The Linen Memorial was the constant thread in her creative life. It is a public art sculpture made up of hundreds of Irish linen handkerchiefs on which are embroidered the names of almost 4000 people who were killed as a result of the sectarian violence that has wracked Northern Ireland between 1966 and the present day (commonly called 'The Troubles' and typically dated between the late 1960s civil rights era and the mid 1990s). The Names List does not discriminate: it contains the names of ALL those who died in the violence -- bomb victims and bombers, terrorists and police, military and paramilitary, and innocent bystanders. It stands as a poignant reminder of the legacy of trauma and grief of that dark period in Northern Ireland's contemporary history. Lycia, who was born in Belfast but migrated to Canada with her family as child, conceived the idea for the memorial when she visited her homeland as a working artist in 1999-2000. With a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, she began the project in 2001 by printing the names on the handkerchiefs. In the years since, the names have been hand- embroidered (by 50 embroiderers around the world), and a lock of hair (a traditional 19th century symbol of mourning) has been attached to each square white panel of cloth. More recently, visitors to the memorial have been pinning small memorial tokens next to the names of loved ones. The Linen Memorial was first exhibited in Washington State in the US in September 2001, and has since been exhibited a number of times in Australia (including at UOW in 2002 and 2005 at the start and finish of Lycia's degree process). For the last three years it has been installed in Northern Ireland for the Private Day of Reflection -- an annual event established in 2007 for people to reflect on the conflict -- at the Corrymeela Peace and Reconciliation Centre at Ballycastle (2007 and 2008) and at Queens University, Belfast in 2009. Next year, the memorial will be featured in a Biennale exhibition in Quebec, Canada. NH Left: Dr Lycia Trouton with one of the handkerchiefs from the Linen Memorial. Right: Bodie O'Dell admires Dr Lycia Trouton's Linen Memorial when it was on exhibition at UOW in 2005. graduates of our university... Alumni Writing talent a secret no longer Jessica Webster Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) 2008 When Jess Webster had a year of casual work between finishing her Science degree and starting Medicine at the University of Wollongong she decided to entertain herself -- and her mother and a few close friends -- by writing a story. She succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Everyone enjoyed reading her story so much that they urged her to keep writing ... and writing. Eighty thousand words later Jess decided to enter her story in a national competition for unpublished writers, called IP Picks. Early in 2009 she was informed that her story had won the Best First Book category, and that the prize was publication by Queensland publishers Glasshouse Books. A year later Jess is a published author with her book, a fantasy novel called The Secret Stealer, released in March. It's about a nine-year-old boy, James Winchester IV who has his deepest secret stolen (by the Secret Stealer). The story follows his quest to regain his secret, while dealing with the realisation that when his was stolen he gained the ability to steal secrets from others. With his new-found ability James sets out to tackle the injustices around him. "It's very exciting to have a book published," said Jess, who also drew the cover illustration. "I have enjoyed writing stories since I was very young, but had never completed something of this length. And I certainly didn't imagine I was going to win the competition, but figured it couldn't hurt to at least enter." Jess spent 2009 juggling the demands of the first year of a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree at UOW's Graduate School of Medicine with working through the editing process with the publishers. "It was interesting, to say the least. I'd be in the middle of an assignment for uni and then would have to find the time to read through all 230 pages of the manuscript and email my comments back to my editor," she said. "But I could really see the value in the editing process and I'm happy with the result." Jess' ambition in medicine is to be a small-town General Practitioner "where I can follow through with patients and their families, and provide some sort of continuity of treatment". For now her medical degree is the main priority, and Jess has had to give up her place playing viola in the WIN Wollongong Symphony Orchestra. But she hasn't ruled out another book. "Second year Medicine is very challenging, with five- week rotations at hospitals and clinics coming up. I am very busy, but I really enjoy writing so it might just happen ..." she said. NH UOW medical student and author Jess Webster with her first novel, The Secret Stealer.