Village Unknown – these two words were sometimes engraved on the blue-stone block that marked the graves of Chinese miners who died on the Ballaarat goldfields, and to whom it was unknown to where they originated from in China. According to Chinese culture of the day, to be buried without acknowledgment of village of origin, fated their souls to eternal separation from their ancestors – in a form of purgatory between heaven and earth.
In more recent history ‘Celestial Body’ funds were set up by the Chinese to support the exhumation of graves in Ballarat, to return individuals to the home villages in China for appropriate burial rites along-side their ancestor’s.
In these pieces I wanted to explore the feeling of being lost and estranged from family and ancestors for eternal life.
The use of the collaged rubbings of leaves suggests they are captured, preserved from decay and their right to the cycle of life.
The Chinese in Ballarat – article written by Ms Irene Scott