Visual narratives of trauma

‘Full awareness of their traumatic experience will often rock survivors’ worldview and their view of humanity’ (Alison Miller, 2010)

The process of changing and moving on emotionally means that one has to let go of many old beliefs, illusions and ways of being, and also, often breaking ties with people in one’s life. Survivors suffer spiritual losses and they may feel empty and find no meaning or purpose in life. They may lose their faith and trust in people, God or other religious figures, and their belief that the world is a safe and orderly place is usually shattered.

As survivors move on they inevitably will come into conflict with people in their life because relational dynamics change as survivors begin to set long neglected boundaries and as unhealthy levels of tolerance of others’ interference, exploitation, violation and aggression are decreased. However, the process of burning bridges is painful and needs to involve grieving and acceptance, but it is often a necessary part of survivors’ healing journey and it allows increased safety, freedom and choice.

Inhumanity and betrayal

Inhumanity and betrayal

I tell because I know,

I tell you because I will not be silent,

I tell you because I will not be silenced

(Part of Yarrow Morgan’s poem in Bass and Thornton’s anthology of survivor stories, I Never Told Anyone)

Life thread

‘But art and ideas come out of the passion and torment of experience: it is impossible to have a real relationship to the first if one’s aim is to be protected from the second’ (The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings by James Baldwin)

Light blue

Light blue

Australia…. so far away and yet within me…. my birth land

February 6th, 2014


Hi, today I’d like to share some material related to trauma and art from Australia

You might like to visit the Inside: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions, an exhibition based on personal histories of the Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and all those who experienced institutional care as children. You can view the many written accounts, artwork, music, photographs, etc, exhibited and created by the Forgotten Australians, the thousands of children, which up until recently, were taken from their families and were incarcerated in institutions, convents and monasteries across Australia, where many were abused, tortured and exploited by those supposed to take care of them.

The Inside exhibition was on show at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra from 16 November 2011 to 26 February 2012                                                         The online exhibition can be viewed at

One of the participants is Rachael Romero an artist, who was incarcerated in the Convent of the Good Shepherd (Magdalene) Laundries inSouth Australia when she was a teenager. You can view her art on and

The Magdalene Laundries were run by the Catholic nuns and church in many parts of the world. Thousands of very young girls were incarcerated, abused and exploited in these Laundries. Many of these girls were pregnant and their babies were given up for adoption by the nuns and the authorities involved. 

‘Momma’ is a song written by Leanne Hawkins, another survivor of this institutionalised care

Leanne Hawkins created this video as ‘a way of bringing forward the lack of Human Rights that faces all Forgotten Australians by re-visiting St Joseph’s Girls Orphanage, near Mt Panorama, Bathurst, NSW, Australia, where her mother was placed aged 3 in 1942 and St Michael’s Anglican Girls Home, Kelso, near Bathurst in NSW, where both her sister aged 4 and she aged 5 were placed in 1966’.

There are more songs by other singers about the Magdalene Laundries in Europe in other parts of my website. Another relevant song is A call for justice’ by Mark Torr

Finally, for those interested, a film perhaps worth watching about the Stolen Generation of Australia is the Rabbit ProofFence directed by Phillip Noyce in 2002. The music of the film is by Peter Gabriel (Long Walk Home).

Some short videos about the Forgotten Australians and the Stolen Generation (50, 000 Aboriginal children were removed from their families and were placed in foster homes or institutions) are the following