Stoker Emma Conway: the engine room, HMAS Kanimbla

Place Middle East: Persian Gulf
Accession Number ART91771
Collection type Art
Measurement board: 40 x 35 cm; frame: 42.6 x 38 x 3.8 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on hardboard
Location Main Bld: Afghanistan Gallery
Maker Churcher, Peter
Place made Persian Gulf
Date made 18 February 2002
Conflict Period 2000-2009
Afghanistan, 2001-

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


Female stoker in the engine room. Peter Churcher recalled, "Emma was the only female who voluntarily worked as a stoker. The engine room is an environment that does not normally suit women or people of frail sensibilities. It is very cramped and very hot and extremely noisy and one is working with grease and nuts and bolts and heavy-duty tools. Emma loved working down in there. It's deep down in the bowels of the ship. I think it's an uncomfortable part of the ship. Emma had a very bright and positive attitude and was able to do the job extremely capably. She absolutely gained the respect of the men. The men told me that she was as reliable and as hard working as anyone else in the engine room. She told me that what she enjoys most about working down in the engine room is that she doesn't have to work with other women. The women generally did all sorts of things. (They were not rostered to do everything). Some people just worked in the Operations Room and were capable at that, and others worked in the kitchen for example. Emma had asked to work down in the engine room. I sensed in her personality that she was a bit of a loner and liked to work alone. She just enjoyed the peace and solitude down there. There would be 3 or 4 people working in the engine room, doing their own thing in different parts of the engine room. One cannot talk down there; it is too noisy. One must wear ear muffs because of the high noise level. I had ear protection when I was painting. The engine noise is extremely loud. They are enormous engines. The ship is a big bloody thing to push in the water so a lot of power is needed to push it along. They can sail around the world two and a half times without re-fuelling but they can re-fuel at ports if they need to".