A Convict in the Family?

Mine Konakci’s works reveal the connections between convict settlers, their direct descendants and the petty crimes that changed the course of their families’ histories.

The sitters – ordinary Australians – are photographed in modern settings such as their home, garden or a public space with an item representing the petty crime that saw their ancestor sentenced to transportation to the new colony. Through involvement in the project, many sitters discovered their convict heritage for the first time.

For documentary photographer, Mine Konakci, the project presented the opportunity to delve deeper into her fascination with ancestry. “Many of Australia’s early convicts suffered disproportionately in comparison to their crimes. A petty crime, such as stealing a loaf of bread, resulted in transportation to a new colony and a new path in their family’s history. As a photographer, what interested me was the impact that the theft of objects—most of a relatively small value—could have on people’s lives. By photographing descendants with a representation of the item stolen by their ancestor, I have drawn a link to their family’s untold history,” said Mine Konakci.

I believe that knowledge of one’s past develops a stronger sense of belonging, and enables one to pass on this precious gift to subsequent generations.

Mine Konakci, 2011

A convict in the family? is a brilliant concept. Portrait photography at its best.

Visitor, Western Australian Museum – Albany, tour venue 2014

Interview with the artist

Tour contact

Alison McCann

Project Manager - Exhibitions & Travelling Exhibitions
Sydney Living Museums

T: 02 8239 2375
E: alisonmc@sydneylivingmuseums.com.au