From the mid 19th century to the early 20th century Australia’s northern sugarcane plantations
began to thrive and prosper feeding into the islands up and coming economy. South sea islanders were
kidnapped or tricked into enslavement, separated from their families and forced to work the fields under extreme conditions, paid next to nothing if paid at all. Open till the the 8th of September the State Library of Queensland will be exhibiting Plantation Voices; a collection of rare and often restricted historical documents and photographs combined with modern artworks by the descendants of such workers. How many names and faces were left unknown? Tales untold? We can deepdive into the re-tracked stories of those who took back their past and who reinvented their identities in order to step forward in a free world they so fiercely fought for. More than 210 people came from along the eastern coastline to honor the Australian South Sea Islander heritage and culture at the opening of Plantation Voices.
This exhibition allows us to understand that the fight for freedom was won by the sheer strength and brut-force of those once stuck in the throws of mankind’s unforgiving march into the future, and to discover the flourished creativity of those whose roots lay in such pasts.