Stories of Our Town: Scott Sisters of Ash Island Film Released

We are very proud to announce the public release of “The Scott Sisters of Ash Island”, part of the Stories of Our Town series.

Back in April 2020, in the midst of the COVID lockdown, the UON’s Cultural Collections/GLAMx team (in the Auchmuty Library) and its film maker partners Glenn Dormand (aka Chit Chat von loopin Stab) and Tony Whitaker (Carnivore Films) were greatly surprised to learn they were among one of the five successful applicants sharing $1.2 million from the NSW Government’s Round Five of the Newcastle Port Community Contribution (NPCC) fund to help fund twelve films on the important historical stories of Newcastle and its port and estuary.

The Stories of Our Town Project presents Newcastle’s key historic stories through Novocastrian eyes and points of view, and is a great partnership between the film makers and Newcastle’s major Cultural and Educational Institutions.

Harriet Scott From the collections of the State Library of New South Wales (Mitchell Library)


Helena Scott. (Courtesy of the Australian Museum)

The first of these stories: The Scott Sisters of Ash Island has just been completed, and tells the story of two young girls, Harriet and Helena Scott, working and growing up during the 1840s-1860s on Ash Island, which is now part of modern day Kooragang Island, and learning to be scientific illustrators.

They documented the flora and fauna of their island home in beautifully crafted images, recording the transformations of insects from caterpillars into moths and butterflies. Their work was world class, but women and girls of the time were unable to attain a University degree.

Their legacy lives on in the rehabilitation of the natural landscape as well as the UON’s Natural History Illustration Course, the only course of its kind in an Australian University, and one of a handful worldwide.

We thank everyone who helped make this film possible. It is a beautiful piece of work that we hope will inspire and bring joy to people as we collectively course our way through these challenging times.

More on the Scott Sisters:  Here, Here, There, and Everywhere Jodi Vial’s Reflections here.

Best Wishes,

Gionni Di Gravio, OAM & Dr Ann Hardy
Executive Producers, Scott Sisters of Ash Island
Cultural Collections/GLAMx Lab, Auchmuty Library
University of Newcastle (Australia)

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