Thu 3 Nov 2011
More than 2-dimensional: under the rafters of the newly built guardhouse domes. Photo Gary Crockett
Our new domes are indeed sexy, in a splintery, folksy way. But how does their ‘accuracy’, or the quality of their construction, help us know more about the past, or their original builders, or the ragged world that they once were part of…? Surely they’re more than a shape, or a symbol of colonial progress. More than a costly facsimile. Former HHT curator James Broadbent once warned us that re-creation needs to forge new understandings and teach us something about life in the past, otherwise the whole activity is “a self indulgent waste of time and money on the past of its creators, or re-recreators”. Our challenge as keepers of the re-roofed guardhouses is to make them perform – to help them sing for their supper and reveal intriguing things about themselves. Looking good, or being well built, is only part of the job. They need to speak up and tell us something about the world of convicts, constables, colonists, power, pain, terror, cruelty, heartbreak and hope that echoes within their walls and under their (accurately re-made) rafters.