Fiona Kelly McGregor, writer and performance artist, plans to work on her fourth novel during her residency in 2012. The novel is based on Iris Webber, a contemporary of the infamous Kate Leigh, sly grog queen and dealer, and Tilly Devine, prostitute and madame. Iris was considered ‘one of the most violent women in Sydney’ yet has been largely ignored by accounts of the period. Soon after arriving in Sydney in the early 1930s, her name began appearing on charge sheets. She made a living through busking, prostitution, thieving and selling sly-grog. She was involved in several shootings, twice acquitted of murder. She died in 1953, the year licensing laws were changed and 11pm closing reinstigated after 37 years of ‘the 6 o’clock swill’.
Photo by Yiorgos Zafiriou