Denied is a current and ongoing research-led portrait project that responds to miscarriages of justice through a series of intimate paintings.
Queensland based artist Sky Parra, supported by metropolitan and regional communities and leading legal scholar Dr Robert Moles, depicts those wrongfully convicted of serious crimes across Australia and those that actively advocate for justice. Parra’s portraits are a poignant testimony of the existence of miscarriages of justice and are the outcome of careful research, in-depth study, and personal connections with the victims of wrongful conviction and their families. Together with existing legal advocacy, the Denied project brings new awareness and understanding to this nationally urgent issue. It is estimated that between one and five percent of convictions in Australia are unlawful.
Representing the innocent as they need to be seen; as people who have been harmed by the system that ought to have protected them, the Denied project explores profound upheaval, displacement, and vulnerability. Highlighting individual cases and systematic indigenous inequity, Parra’s portraits employ art as a vehicle for social justice.
Utilising the humanising agency of paint, Parra sensitively renders each sitter from life. These works bridge the gap created by misrepresentation to restore a sense of normality, humanity, and dignity. It is the intention of this project to hold space for exchange and collective witnessing: to create a body of work that invokes the human capacity for empathy, urging us to look and engage in a critical conversation.
Acknowledging historical and ongoing cases, each sitter has been found innocent through forensic evidence, on the basis of misconduct and/or exoneration/acquittal. While some have been released, many are still incarcerated waiting on their appeal to the High Court. Enduring the inadequacies of our legal system, subjects of the Denied project continue to grow.