The Transitional Heterotopia: Cockatoo Island

November 4, 2011

Cockatoo Island remains the largest island in Sydney Harbour. Its history provides a string of institutional sites that require an understanding and investigation of its transformation. The island was founded upon the establishment of an imperial prison in 1839. During their time, prisoners built the Fitzroy Dock and workshops to service the Royal Navy and ships alike. Upon its completion, the prisoners were then relocated and the island was occupied as an Industrial School for Girls and a reformatory. However, due to ‘overcrowding’ of prisons elsewhere, Cockatoo Island was again made a prison for ten years, during which the island saw the completion of its second dock as a major shipbuilding and dockyard facility for the South West Pacific in World War II. The servicing, refitting and construction of submarines and ships ceased in 1992 upon the dockyard’s close. Currently, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust assumes control of the island and aims to achieve restoration works, to conserve its cultural heritage, protect its environment and maximise public access. The Trust aims to revitalise the island as a landmark harbour attraction with the creation of parkland and spaces for cultural events. Recent events include the Art Biennale and temporary art exhibitions alike, music festivals and concerts.

This essay aims to investigate the historic timeline ofCockatooIsland’s various institutions of heterotopias, with reference to Michel Foucault’s article ‘Of Other Spaces’. From colonial, state and federal administrations, penal facilities to a dockyard to a public cultural entertainment venue, the essay will explore the overlapping relations of these heterotopias and their affect as a ‘layered’ institution. Foucault’s six principles of heterotopias will be applied in examination of the island’s position, followed by a comparative assessment of its transition and what unfolds for the island’s future occupancy.

Please see attached link for my Essay:

Please see attached link for my Colouring Book:

Naomi Brennan






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