Rebecca

Rebecca, 2020-21

Secure™ blankets of fire-retardant polyester, cotton stitching. 

2 blankets of 58 x 78 inches.

On 19 July 2016, Rebecca Maher, an Aboriginal woman, died in police custody in cell 4 of Maitland Police Station, Australia. A coronial inquest ruled the manner of death to be ‘accidental[]…medical attention not having been sought on her behalf.’ Rebecca died at the age of 36. A quilt has been made from 36 patches of a Secure™ blanket, advertised as a ‘suicide-proof’ blanket used in American prisons. The purportedly indestructible white blanket symbolizes the law’s pervasive violence against BIPOC communities. By cutting it up, an intervention in the quilting tradition was made against this ongoing silence, querying relations of care and bodily integrity within the justice system. Each patch contains quotes taken from three sources: the coronial inquest into Rebecca’s death (police uniform blue); advertising for the Secure™ blanket (red); and Sarah Ahmed’s ‘Phenomenology of Whiteness’ (white).

 

Source documents: 

Inquest into the death of Rebecca Maher – full coroner’s report (‘Report 1’):

https://coroners.nsw.gov.au/coroners-court/download.html/documents/findings/2019/Findings%20-%20Rebecca%20Maher.pdf

 

Inquest into the death of Rebecca Maher – decision on inclusion of directed interviews in brief (‘Report 2):

https://coroners.nsw.gov.au/coroners-court/download.html/documents/findings/2019/Maher%20-%20directed%20interviews%20-%20Reasons%20for%20Decision%20-%204%20March%202019.pdf

 

‘…four police officers [were identified] as “involved officers”:

a. Sergeant Nathan Brooks (“Sgt Brooks”);

b. Senior Constable Elizabeth South (“SC South”);

c. Senior Constable Laurie Coleman (“SC Coleman”); and

d. Acting Sergeant Greg Hosie (“A/Sgt Hosie”).[1]

 

[1] At paragraph 2, page 1 of Report 2.