The Crimson Thread

  • Dates
    2020 - Ongoing
  • Author
  • Location Australia, Australia

'The Crimson Thread' is a work in progress which examines the omnipresence and continual honouring of colonial history in Australia to better understand the impacts of colonisation and white privilege

'The Crimson Thread' is a photographic investigation into the omnipresence of our colonial history that attempts to better understand the impacts of colonisation and white privilege on Australian society in a contemporary context. The title of this project is taken from a quote by Henry Parkes, a colonial Australian politician who described Australia’s connection to the British Motherland as, “the crimson thread of kinship, which defined Australia as a bastion of ‘whiteness’ in the Asian region.”

As a way of documenting the ubiquitous presence and honouring of colonial history in our society, the project retraces the Royal Tour made by Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1954. The work questions the continuing existence of the Commonwealth and the Queen as our head of state, the perpetuation of these institutions, and their role in the creation of systemic racism which exists universally today.

This project uses expanded documentary photography to combine images of landscapes, objects and portraits which exemplify the impacts of British colonisation in Australia. It presents history in an amorphous way that allows viewers to decide for themselves where the work sits between fact and fiction and to reflect on the relevance, or irrelevance of these imperial institutions which still exist.

© Erin Lee - Australian landscape. Maryborough, Victoria.
i

Australian landscape. Maryborough, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Pillars of Melbourne University, for which the foundations were laid on 3 July 1854. Melbourne, Victoria.
i

Pillars of Melbourne University, for which the foundations were laid on 3 July 1854. Melbourne, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Image from the The Crimson Thread photography project
i

Swans were introduced to Australia by colonialists. White swans have not survived in the wild and can now only be seen living in captivity.

© Erin Lee - Image from the The Crimson Thread photography project
i

Lake Wendouree. The site of an artificially created urban lake, the name comes from the Aboriginal word wendaree, meaning 'go away'. This was the answer an indigenous woman gave when asked by a Scottish settler what the place was called. It is still called Lake Wendouree to this day. Ballarat, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Statue of Queen Victoria. Ballarat, Victoria.
i

Statue of Queen Victoria. Ballarat, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Image from the The Crimson Thread photography project
i

Swans were introduced to Australia by colonialists. Black swans are nomadic and have erratic migration patterns depending on climatic conditions, however have survived in high numbers in the wild.

© Erin Lee - Ballarat, Victoria.
i

Ballarat, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Ballarat, Victoria.
i

Ballarat, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Colonialist church situated within a native eucalyptus forest. Steiglitz, Victoria.
i

Colonialist church situated within a native eucalyptus forest. Steiglitz, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Image from the The Crimson Thread photography project
i

In unpacking what it means to be a white person, naming of our ‘whiteness’ is necessary. Being accepted as the status quo or default norm from which everyone else deviates is part of whiteness’s normative hold on power. Yet this identification must be accompanied by an understanding that the category itself is fictitious, the idea of ‘whiteness’ as the superior category must be broken down and replaced if we are to erase this belief in superiority.

© Erin Lee - The idea that the European race was superior to any other played a crucial role in the 'progress' which drove imperialism.
i

The idea that the European race was superior to any other played a crucial role in the 'progress' which drove imperialism.

© Erin Lee - Image from the The Crimson Thread photography project
i

Lake Wendouree. The site of an artificially created urban lake, the name comes from the Aboriginal word wendaree, meaning 'go away'. This was the answer an indigenous woman gave when asked by a Scottish settler what the place was called. It is still called Lake Wendouree to this day. Ballarat, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Highway near Echuca, Victoria.
i

Highway near Echuca, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - The introduction of religion played a crucial role in the 'progress' which drove imperialism.
i

The introduction of religion played a crucial role in the 'progress' which drove imperialism.

© Erin Lee - Ballarat, Victoria.
i

Ballarat, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Ballarat, Victoria.
i

Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Ballarat, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - The Queen's coronation portrait.
i

The Queen's coronation portrait.

© Erin Lee - Image from the The Crimson Thread photography project
i

A replica of the anointing spoon used in the British Royal’s coronation ceremony, the Archbishop drips oil from the spoon onto the sovereign’s hands, chest and head. Supposedly, the oil is holy and therefore, from that moment, this person becomes the King or Queen of England and the head of The Commonwealth.

© Erin Lee - Image from the The Crimson Thread photography project
i

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church where the Queen and Duke attended a Sunday service during the 1954 Royal Tour. Warburton, Victoria.

© Erin Lee - Australian landscape, Red Hill, Victoria.
i

Australian landscape, Red Hill, Victoria.

Latest Projects

  • I saw a tree bearing stones in the place of apples and pears

  • try, take time

  • BUY NOTHING

  • Unimportant Message

  • The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars

  • Like the Waves Appear and Disappear and Appear Again

Sign up to our weekly newsletter

Stay in the loop


We will send you weekly news on contemporary photography. You can change your mind at any time. We will treat your data with respect. For more information please visit our privacy policy. By ticking here, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with them. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The Crimson Thread by Erin Lee

Prev Next Close