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Roses From the Heart

The T.L.C. Group and “Roses from the Heart”

"A Boat Full of Bonnets"

The “Roses from the Heart” Project is an Australian project  - a tribute to women, especially the 25,000 + convict women who were shipped to ‘parts unknown” and became the backbone of contemporary Australian society.

The woman behind the project is Australian artist, Christina Henri and she wanted 25,566 bonnets made with empathy for these convict woman who endured so much and yet have received so little recognition. Their economic and social contribution was enormous, yet the ‘stigma’ shrouding their existence always precluded discussion of their value. To date she has 15,000 bonnets.

A lot of these women were from the four corners of Ireland and for most, their only crime was stealing food for their families.

For crimes that required pity more than punishment convict women were forcibly migrated around the world. Until 1776, when the War of Independence halted their offloading to America, these 'unfortunates' were pawns of the slave trade. From 1788 to 1853 – 25, 266 women were transported to Australia. Keeping them company was British Middle Class ideology that became embedded in Australian society. Penal conditions exacerbated the oppression of women. Convict women were treated as slaves, just stock to barter.

Convict women must have required enormous depths of self assurance not to be crushed by the condemnation hurled at them. Language of the day confirmed a convict woman’s degradation. How hard to erase the prevailing belief in their whorishness and worthlessness. Until recently historians perpetuated the ‘immorality’ of convict women and did not look beyond the stigma of moral condemnation.

Christina invites people throughout the world to make a bonnet tribute to commemorate the value of a convict woman's life. The artist deliberately chose to invite personal tributes to be made rather than mass orders so that each bonnet is a testament to the individuality of the lass for whom it is created.

She is holding a ‘Blessing of the Bonnets” in Kilkeel on September 11/12.

We now have a “ship of Irish convict women” to choose from and each bonnet will bear the name of one of these women, the name of the person/group who made the bonnet and a little rose or a similar symbol.

The artist chose the name Roses from the Heart™ because the rose is a very strong symbol of love. Roses would have reminded the convict women of the homeland they had been exiled from. Few of these women would have been offered roses as a token of love and now contemporary women can belatedly do so. Hearts also represent love and the artist hopes that the bonnets sewn throughout the world in memory of the convict women are made with empathy and love. It is not an absolute that either hearts or roses have to be included as part of the bonnet's embellishment. It is up to the skills and choice of the bonnet maker.

Below is the e-mail recevied from Christina Henri.

Dear Catherine,

So lovely to hear from you.

I am really excited to know that you and your group from Northern Ireland would like to be part of Roses from the Heart(tm).

I plan to hold a 'Blessing of the Bonnets' in Kilkeel, County Down. (weekend 11/12 September. The date, time and venue to be advised).

I can send you a ship of Irish convict women and you can choose whoever you feel drawn to make a bonnet tribute for. You can make as many bonnets as you would like to. If you have a female convict ancestor then please make a bonnet for that family member.

I have over 15,000 so I am well on the way to achieving the required 25,566 bonnets.

I would love some images of you making the bonnets and also some images of where you live so that i can feel connected to you as you sit and sew and embellish the bonnets.

I am sending you the information that I give to participants.

Please do keep in touch.

After I hear back from you I will send you a ship of women.

Kind regards,






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