The inspiration behind: Justice & Police Museum


Find out more about the curatorial research that inspired artist Gerwyn Davies’s response to the Justice & Police Museum, featured in the Iridescent exhibition.

A figure shackled, or encased in a gold band of matrimony? Inspired by the story of Captain Moonlite and his love for fellow bushranger James Nesbitt, Justice & Police Museum by Gerwyn Davies plays on the dual meaning of the ring – as a symbol of love, or of incarceration. 

Andrew George Scott, a.k.a. Captain Moonlite, was arrested for fraud after trying to cash a bad cheque in 1870. Following his arrest, he was kept in a cell at the Water Police Court, now the Justice & Police Museum. In Davies’s image, the bound figure sits in the processing room awaiting sentence. He turns his back on the portrait of the monarch that hangs on the wall as a reminder of colonial authority. 

Captain Moonlite’s official records of incarceration and punishment survive in NSW State Archives, yet it is Scott’s words of love for Nesbitt – written from Darlinghurst Gaol in 1880 – that speak most loudly to us today. Under the reign of Queen Victoria their love was an unspeakable act. This figure reminds us that it was an act, also, of defiance. 

Image gallery

Click on an image below to take a closer look

Costume featured in Iridescent by Gerwyn Davies. Justice & Police Museum,

Costume featured in Irridescent by Gerwyn Davies. Justice & Police Museum (detail), Gerwyn Davies, 2021. Sydney Living Museums.

© Gerwyn Davies.

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Kim Connors, intern, Hyde Park barracks

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Kim Connors, intern, Hyde Park barracksWednesday 14 September 2016