About the Project

Footsteps Towards Freedom is inspired by the extraordinary lives of common women and children born into circumstances that found them at the centre of building a new nation. Of international significance this story needed to be reconnected on the very ground that the women and children walked as they reached their destination and stepped forward into a life unknown.

Footsteps Towards Freedom Inc. is a small team of passionate Tasmanians: John Kelly – Businessman; Carole Edwards – Urban Designer; Lucy Frost – Emeritus Professor of English; Jo Lyngcoln – Cultural Heritage Consultant. The team worked tirelessly for almost five years to formulate this inspirational outcome, raising over $300,000 developing a sound not-for-profit incorporated body that encouraged, cajoled and begged support from the many wonderful organisations and private individuals.

Rowan Gillespie, internationally renowned Irish sculptor has created the four figures from a body of research and historical accuracy that once again results in a quality and dimension that speaks deeply to the observer. The sculptures are rendered from the descendants of the convict women who trod this path and through Rowan’s singular method of taking a work from conception to creation, entirely unassisted in his purpose-built foundry in Dublin, the sculptures have become for him, one of a trilogy of works, Famine in Dublin, Migrants in Toronto, and now this stunning work, Footsteps, in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

The project found wide-spread support among the hundreds of contributors who helped along the way, from a couple of dollars to the incredibly generous major sponsorships of the four figures and supporting infrastructure. The major sponsors were:

Vos Family Foundation: The Vos family are generous supporters of many causes across Tasmania and Footsteps Towards Freedom Inc. were so fortunate to receive not only their monetary support for one of the sculptures, but also the permission to locate the sculptures in the forecourt of one of their major developments. Michael and Darren Vos have provided access to their builders and architects to ensure the best possible outcome.

The Hobart City Council were resounding in their support of the project and willingly accepted the recommendation of the Arts Committee to sponsor a figure

Ros Escott and John Coates sponsored the mother with baby to remember the convict women who gave birth under sentence and were separated from their infants once they were weaned.

The Sisters of Charity of Australia sponsored a sculpture in recognition of the order’s long history of ministering to women and children from the colonial period to present day.

The Tasmanian Government provided a contribution through the Community Infrastructure Fund to assist in the installation of the sculptures and to provide lighting.

The Commonwealth Government provided a grant through the Community Heritage and Icons Grant to assist in the provision of further interpretation through a website that would connect the community to the story behind the sculptures and their connections to the places where they were imprisoned or were assigned.

Organisations including the State Cinema, Tas Ports, RACT, Government House Tasmania, Federal Group, Murdoch Clarke Lawyers, Southern Lighting and Distribution, and Wise Lord Ferguson Accounting and Advisory, have supported the project with their generosity in making available resources, significant donations and encouragement.

Many individuals donated their time, their professional skills and talents to drive the project to its successful conclusion. We thank in particular Hon Elise Archer MP, Trudy Cowley, Peter Edwards, Jos Fenton and Rachel Mendlik.