The inspiration behind: Justice & Police Museum
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.
See the exhibition
Iridescent by Gerwyn Davies
In the exhibition Iridescent by Gerwyn Davies, queer photographic artist and costume maker Gerwyn Davies responds to and reimagines the museums, archives, historic houses and gardens under the care of Sydney Living Museums and NSW State Archives.