Tuesday March 26, 2024 | by Jana Elsayed

Rosalind Lemoh showcases the untold stories of Australia's capital city in works that expand the historical narrative

Australia's capital city, Canberra, was established in 1913 as the former British colonies on the continent created a federation and began to establish a national identity of their own. The site itself was chosen to settle fierce competition between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, both of which were vying for the honor. Located between the two large cities, Canberra would be built on a site that had been continuously inhabited by indigenous people for more than 20,000 years. The first public building constructed in the nascent capital was the Kingston Powerhouse, so named because it generated electricity as this city grew up around it, boasting a current population of nearly half a million.

Since 2013, the former Kingston Powerhouse has been home to the nonprofit art center Canberra Glassworks, which hosts artist fellowships, exhibitions, art awards, classes for all levels of glassmaking, and artist residencies. Current artist-in-residence Rosalind Lemoh is currently exhibiting her work in "TOLD. RETOLD. UNTOLD." -- a solo show on view through the April 28, 2024. In her work, Lemoh invites audiences to expand their understanding to also include the lesser-known stories of Kingston Powerhouse, which she presents through her unique artistic lens. With a keen eye for untold narratives and hidden truths, Lemoh delves into the Powerhouse's myriad histories with a focus on unearthing stories long overlooked.

Lemoh, a Sierra Leonean Australian multi-media sculptor from Gundaroo, New South Wales, approached her 2023 residency as a journey of discovery looking beyond the visible façade of the Powerhouse and delving into the silenced voices and untold stories within its walls. Confronting the absence of certain narratives, particularly those of marginalized communities, she grapples with her own identity and experiences as a mixed-race woman and mother in Australia. Through the transparent medium of glass, Lemoh draws attention to the unseen aspects of official histories, prompting viewers to confront societal injustices. 

Neon elements serve as poignant reminders of the fluidity of consciousness, urging us to acknowledge the hidden labor and energies embedded within structures and histories. By establishing connections between the physical self and the contextual frameworks that shape our understanding, Lemoh challenges us to question the origins of our personal and collective narratives.

Told Retold Untold Glass

Through the medium of glass, Lemoh reframes the narratives of the Kingston Powerhouse, breathing life into forgotten voices, particularly those of women. Employing wordplay with the concept of "power," Lemoh delves into the complexities of authority and control, infusing her narrative with symbols of femininity to deepen our understanding of societal dynamics. Through her exploration, Lemoh sheds light on overlooked figures like Marion Mahony Griffin, inviting us to reconsider the traditional narratives of Canberra's history. Her works, both industrial and organic, stand as testaments to resilience, drawing inspiration from iconic Western art movements. 

The exhibition is not merely a retelling of history but a call to action, challenging viewers to confront the narratives that have shaped our understanding of the world. Through her art, Lemoh asks us to reconsider the untold stories and invisible forces that have shaped our collective consciousness.

Edges finding themselves 2

In the early 20th century, the creation of the Kingston Powerhouse marked a significant milestone in Canberra's history. Crafted by architect John Smith Murdoch in 1915, this structure served as the city's inaugural public edifice. Positioned strategically along the banks of the Maloglow River, it harnessed the power of steam to generate electricity, propelling turbines that hummed with energy. Adjacent to the southern railway line, the Powerhouse facilitated the seamless transportation of coal to fuel its boilers. Constructed with a blend of concrete fortified with river gravel and sturdy steel frames, the building bears witness to its past through the distinct wood grain texture adorning its walls. Today, we acknowledge the diverse history, purpose, and genesis of this architectural marvel.

Rosalind Lemoh, Interior Ammunition (detail), 2023. photo: damien geary

As part of the exhibition, Rosalind Lemoh will host a Gallery Floor Talk at Canberra Glassworks on Saturday, 20th April at 2 pm. This interactive session offers audiences the opportunity to delve deeper into the themes and experimentation behind her captivating works. Lemoh found inspiration in the architecture of the Powerhouse, drawing parallels between its form and the human body as the building's architecture becomes intertwined with the human experience, blurring the lines between past and present. Her intimate interaction with the space during her residency allowed her to perceive it as a living entity, rich with texture, layers, and narrative. Reflecting on the extracted railway nails embedded in the ground, she drew parallels to the roots of a wisdom tooth, symbolizing a profound connection to the earth. In her exploration, Lemoh imbued the building's marks and imprints into her works, transforming them into a stage for storytelling. A crystal slice of rockmelon, meticulously polished to reveal its dimpled skin, sits atop a concrete floor cast with delicate grey and white hues, reminiscent of spilled ink. From the tangible textures of concrete to the ethereal glow of neon elements, each piece invites contemplation on the complexities of identity and belonging.

"TOLD. RETOLD. UNTOLD." catalyzes introspection, beckoning us to confront the obscured truths and unspoken narratives that shape our perceptions of history and self. Lemoh's exhibition is a testament to the power of art to provoke curiosity and evoke transformation, inviting us to reimagine the world around us.


March 7th - April 28th 2024
Canberra Glassworks
11 Wentworth Avenue
Kingston, ACT

To learn more about the exhibition, click here!

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.