There’s a show called Wentworth which is set in a fictitious women’s prison in Wentworth, Australia, currently running on FOXTEL (new season to begin in May). In this drama, there is a character named Joan Ferguson (but you can all her Governor). If the name sounds familiar it’s because there was a series (soap opera) on some thirty years ago called Prisoner: Cell Block H in which there was a screw (guard) of the same name played very well by Maggie Kirkpatrick. Joan Ferguson is synonyms with evil and manipulation and anything else you can think of, yet, she’s a fantastic character, both in Wentworth and Prisoner because the character is more than what we see on the surface, but to keep reminding us of our pain, sorrow, anguish, we choose not to look too deep and just enjoy the antics that is Joan Ferguson.
In Wentworth, Ferguson is played by Pamela Rabe who does an excellent job of becoming evil personified, yet I am fascinated with her (the character, that is) and most don’t know why and for me to explain would be difficult. In a nutshell, I see more than just evil lurking in the eyes of this character. I see hurt and anguish in which there is no outlet. It’s something we all can relate to if we take the time to look past the antics of the character and look at the character. The writers did a great job in taking Ferguson to the next level by reminding us that loss is the most painful thing we can experience, and loss can haunt us for years if we let it.
But Ferguson’s pain goes deeper than just the loss of someone she loved. Her pain and anguish also stem from a year of verbal, and possibly, emotional abuse by her father. Although Ferguson is a fictional character, all characters are created from someone’s truth that soon becomes out the truth. This is why we, at times, grab on to fictional characters. I tend to gravitate towards troubled characters; those that the world would soon turn it’s back on rather than try to understand. Someone else’s truth, sometimes, becomes my truth.
The picture below was captured by me while watching S3:E8 (titled Goldfish). I feel this is an extremely important episode in the whole series and there were a few scenes that played into my thought, this one is one of them. It depicts Ferguson in her office staring at her reflection (I captured the picture when she turned from her reflection). You see her turning from side to side watching her reflection do the same. Then she turns from her reflection to walk away but her reflection remains standing.
It’s also interesting this episode was named Goldfish:
In Buddhism: The golden fish symbolizes the auspiciousness of all living beings in a states of fearlessness, without danger of drowning in the ocean of sufferings, and migrating from place to place freely and spontaneously, just as fish swim freely without free through the water.
I added the poem tonight because this particular picture kept staying with me in my mind and as an artist, I had to write it’s tale through my eyes.
My reflection stares
though I can’t comprehend
The meaning behind my eyes
and a heart that won’t mend.
A master controller
has invaded my space
Bringing me closer
to my dead-end race.
Memories are lacking
behind my cold gaze
My soul is entangled
in my homegrown maze.
I stand face to back
on this bleeding leading ledge
Always planning my demise
with this dull razor’s edge
I know of no solace
from the destruction, I did comprise
For my reflection can’t comprehend
the soul that has since left my eyes.
(c) 2016 by Nikki Hoskin
All rights reserved.
Wentworth S1-5 is on Netflix. S6 premiers on 6 April 2018 on Showcase (a division of FOXTEL).
All 692 episodes of Prisoner: Cell Block H can be viewed on YouTube. Look for Episode 1 and enjoy.