Goolugatup Heathcote nagolik Bibbulmen Nyungar ally-maga milgebar gardukung naga boordjar-il narnga allidja yugow yeye wer ali kaanya Whadjack Nyungar wer netingar quadja wer burdik  ∞  Goolugatup Heathcote nagolik Bibbulmen Nyungar ally-maga milgebar gardukung naga boordjar-il narnga allidja yugow yeye wer ali kaanya Whadjack Nyungar wer netingar quadja wer burdik  ∞  

I thought it would be roses

Chloe Bartram

14 November 2020 - 14 February 2021

I thought it would be roses is an exhibition about the experience of womanhood. Artist Chloe Bartram brings together a group of women to produce a series of love letters upturning patriarchal tradition.

The sexual narratives of young women are typically understood through cliché and fairytale. Bartram subverts this pattern through an involved process of interview, collaboration, and exchange.

I thought it would be roses

I thought it would be roses offers an opportunity to examine personal reflections of womanhood. Having been raised on the stories of love often found in fairy tales, it began with me wanting to speak with women about their sexual narratives. Collaboration began with a desire to understand firsthand their experiences and to facilitate a more open dialogue about gender and sexuality. It aims to expose the bias apparent in the taboos and societal untruths surrounding female sexuality while discussing the greater ‘collective consciousness’. Through tapping into this collective experience, the installation interrogates a gendered sense of self or identity, and how this is connected to a woman’s sexuality. The work explores experiences felt and not always acknowledged.

These love letters give the participating women right of reply. They draw attention to narratives and experiences that are often ignored or skewed in the mainstream consciousness. The sharing of knowledge is incredibly important to this project, and this has been emphasised by bringing together a further group of women to sew the letters. The fabric speaks to the veils we must wear and gives form to the experiences we embody, but that never fully show who we are. I thought it would be roses pays reference to the history of women’s fibre art and the stories we have told through cloth for generations. The needles left in some of the works act as a final stroke of defiance; her weapon of choice.

In part it was my mother, Margaret, who was the catalyst for undertaking this project; she has lived these women’s stories. I acknowledge the women who shared with me, the women who sewed with me and the women on whose support I rely. Thank you to Andrew Christie for his time and wood work.

The participants found the process a cathartic one. For some, they carried the burden of an experience they never wanted. Should you also share in this you are invited to pen your own ‘love’ letter to continue the work. You are welcome to sit at the sewing table, once used at Heathcote Hospital, and place the letter through the slot at the front of the wooden letter box. The box has no other opening and will hold your stories for you.

Upcoming Exhibitions


Goolugatup Heathcote is located on the shores of the Derbal Yerrigan, in the suburb of Applecross, just south of the centre of Boorloo Perth, WA. It is 10 minute drive from the CBD, the closest train station is Canning Bridge, and the closest bus route the 148.

Accessibility and amenities

The Gallery is open 10-4 weekdays, 12-4 weekends, and closed public holidays. The grounds are open 24/7.