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(re)create: art and the activation of heritage


One-day symposium, Wednesday 21 April 2021, 8:45am–5pm
Ann Harding Conference Centre, University of Canberra

(re)create is a one-day symposium exploring the role of creative art practice in the activation of heritage places, practices and projects. Artists are adept at generating new perspectives on seeing, feeling and thinking. In doing so they play an important role in urging us to consider how we perceive and value the world around us.

(re)create brings together artists, curators, heritage professionals and other researchers to explore the new perspectives that art can bring to heritage interpretation, engagement, community participation and collective problem-solving.

Speakers will discuss their involvement in reanimating archives, reimagining histories, place and ecologies, and drawing inspiration from collections and things. Whether it be the activation of dormant seed banks, endangered mammals on the edge of suburbia, or the values of mid-century modern buildings, art has a role to play in how we frame our future heritage.

Followed by a private viewing of the exhibition Expanding the Field: Encounters in archaeology and art at M16 Artspace, 6pm.

Keynote Speaker:

Stuart Jeffrey (Glasgow School of Art)

Speakers include:

Tessa Bell, Elisa deCourcy, Ursula Frederick, Katie Hayne, Cathy Hope, Tracy Ireland, Edwina Jans, Martyn Jolly, Martin Rowney, Joanne Searle, Erica Seccombe, Tim Sherratt, Denise Thwaites, Sharon Veale, Carolyn Young, and Ruth Waller.


Bookings are essential. Register here.

Waged: $44
Unwaged: $22
UC staff, students and speakers: Free


Ursula Frederick:

Image: UK Frederick, Planet X (detail), 2019, chemigram, slide mounts and plastic sleeving.

Tessa Bell is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Canberra. Her research focuses on the relationship between material and digital objects, engaging broadly with ideas about circuits of affect and concepts of material vitality, through multidisciplinary methods.

Dr Elisa deCourcy holds a Discovery Early Career Researchers Award for a project that interrogates the first fifteen years of photography in the Australian colonies. Her work with historic images combines archival research with practice-led methodologies to engage with heritage collections. Her most recent book Empire, Early Photography and Spectacle (co-authored with Martyn Jolly) was published by Routledge in 2021.

Dr Ursula Frederick is an artist with a background in archaeology, photography and art history. She recently completed a Discovery Early Career Research Award exploring the role of the visual in archaeology and heritage and is currently examining the intersection of creative art and heritage practices. Ursula is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research, and a Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative Archives in Bark. Her book Stories from the Sandstone: Quarantine Inscriptions from Australia’s Immigrant Past (co-authored with Peter Hobbins and Anne Clarke) won the 2017 NSW Premier’s History Award (Community and Regional History). In 2016 and 2017 Ursula was a finalist in the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award.

Katie Hayne is an artist and Master of Philosophy candidate in the Painting workshop of the ANU School of Art and Design. Her art practice explores issues of gentrification, consumerism and the overlooked. She has won awards for her painting, photography and short films, and was a finalist in the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award in 2017.

Dr Cathy Hope is the Coordinator of the Play, Creativity and Wellbeing Project. Cathy has delivered multiple cross-sector, interdisciplinary projects in the ACT public realm at the intersections of creativity, urban renewal, community engagement for improved people and place outcomes. Cathy was the project lead on Haig Park Experiments —a six month $1million dollar activation of Haig Park to test community aspirations for the park and inform its ongoing renewal.

Professor Tracy Ireland is Director of the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research, University of Canberra. Tracy is known internationally for her research on heritage practice, ethics and the social values of heritage and has published on the archaeology and heritage of colonialism. Tracy has led research and teaching across UC's GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) heritage, conservation and cultural leadership related courses, including leading the development on the new Master of Arts in Creative and Cultural Futures. Her books include The ethics of cultural heritage (with John Schofield), and Object Lessons: Archaeology and heritage in Australia (with Jane Lydon). Tracy is currently the Lead Chief Investigator for the 3 year ARC Linkage project Heritage of the Air, 2018-2021.

Dr Stuart Jeffrey is Reader in Heritage Visualisation at the School of Simulation and Visualisation in The Glasgow School of Art. Stuart studied Computer Science and Archaeology at the University of Glasgow and also completed his PhD there in 3D modelling of Early Medieval sculpture. Recent research projects have strongly focussed on creative response, community co-design and co-production of heritage data, and visual and acoustic modelling of natural and cultural sites. Stuart has published widely on Digital Heritage, community co-production aura and authenticity in the digital domain, art in heritage and digital archiving.

Dr Martyn Jolly is an artist and a writer. He is an Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University School of Art and Design. He completed his PhD on fake photographs and photographic affect at the University of Sydney in 2003. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Canberra Museum and Gallery. In 2014 he received an ARC Discovery grant along with Dr Daniel Palmer to research the impact of new technology on the curating of Australian art photography. In 2015 he received an ARC Discovery grant to lead the international project Heritage in the Limelight: The Magic Lantern in Australia and the World. In 2006 his book Faces of the Living Dead: The Belief in Spirit Photography was published by the British Library, as well as in the US and Australia. In 2019, with Elisa deCourcy, he co-edited The Magic Lantern at Work: Witnessing, Persuading, Experiencing and Connecting and co-authored Empire, Early Photography and Spectacle: The Global Career of Showman Daguerreotypist J. W. Newland. He is also researching Australiana photobooks, Australian magazines, mechanical spectacles in colonial Australia, and the history of Australian media art.

Martin Rowney is a Canberra/Queanbeyan based sculptor whose sculptural practice explores concepts of history, archaeology and identity. His sculpture explores the idea that we all have an individual history, that we all contribute to a collective historical narrative and that we all leave our own distinctive cultural imprint on the landscape.  Martin works with sculptural assemblage using found and collected historical and archaeological objects to create sculptures which explore the objects’ historical and cultural context. Martin’s sculptural practice draws inspiration from his professional practice as a consultant archaeologist.

Joanne Searle is a Canberra-based ceramic artist and educator. Since graduating from the ANU School of Art and Design in 1999, Joanne has exhibited nationally and internationally. Joanne works at the intersection of printmaking and ceramics and in her research practice uses sound data to represent narratives of place.

Dr Erica Seccombe’s interdisciplinary arts practice spans from traditional lens-based imaging, print media and drawing, to experimental digital platforms using frontier scientific visualisation software. She will discuss her involvement with the RBG Mount Annan Seed Bank and the community project “What does a Hospital Feel Like?” with the Campbelltown Hospital Rebuild.

Dr Tim Sherratt is a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections. He is Associate Professor of Digital Heritage in the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research at the University of Canberra.

Sharon Veale is a public historian and urban planner who has worked in cultural heritage management and conservation for over 20 years. She is the Chief Executive of GML Heritage and a sessional lecturer at UNSW. Throughout her career a central theme has been the creative interpretation of history and heritage.

Ruth Waller is the former Head of Painting at the ANU School of Art & Design. She exhibits with Nancy Sever in Canberra and Rogue Gallery in Sydney. During 2018–19 Ruth was involved in organising a collaboration between the art school and Geoscience Australia involving artists from a wide range of disciplines and culminating in the exhibition and symposium Art of the Collection at ANU.

Dr Carolyn Young is a photographer based in the Canberra Region. A repeated theme in her photographs is place-inspired art, with a particular focus on novel ecosystems – the mix of native and exotic that results from people inhabitation. Carolyn holds a PhD in Visual Arts (ANU) and honours degree in Natural Resources.

(re)create: art and the activation of heritage  - symposium presentations

Stuart Jeffrey

Keynote Presentation

The Temple of the Western Main: recentring creative response in heritage practice

This presentation will explore the relationship between historic artistic responses to places that engender wonder and more recent heritage practices around those places. I will ask what might be lost through a professional focus on explanation and de-mystification and what are the benefits of re-centring creative response in heritage practice.  I will explore this relationship primarily through recent work on the Isle of Staffa, an uninhabited island in the Hebrides archipelago of the West of Scotland. This island and its unusual geological formations, particularly Fingal’s cave, were central to the romantic construction of the Scottish landscape in the 18th and 19th centuries and an inspiration to a host of Europe’s most well-known artists. The 20th century response which stresses geological fact and the ecological understanding starkly contrasts with earlier ideas and practices around the site and effectively ignores its cultural context. Most heritage work at Staffa and similar sites may now stand separate from the long continuum of creative and artistic response. I will argue that this is detrimental both to the appreciation and the understanding of these sites and that collaboration with artists and artistic communities should be central to the range of activities deployed by heritage professionals rather than outliers.

Activating the archives: extended presentations

Elisa DeCourcy

Making from the Archive: thinking about the Daguerreian Gallery in 2021. 

In April 2021 I am collaborating with local and interstate artists to take a series of daguerreotypes following historic processes. This exercise is informed archival research into equivalent images from the 1840s and ephemera surviving from this period of photography. Cased images, particularly daguerreotypes, are often exhibited as precious but inert artefacts. The experience of the studio behind their construction; aspects of their commissioning and collecting, as well as the strata of society represented in the historic archive, is often marginalised within exhibition and scholarly narratives of this media and period. This paper considers how practice-led research can engage with heritage collections to illuminate archival silences and produce curatorial tools that connect disperse knowledge to productively activate colonial art for contemporary audiences.

Martyn Jolly

Reflecting on Heritage in the Limelight

The practice led research component of the ARC Discovery Project Heritage in the Limelight: The Magic Lantern in Australia and the World began under the more or less generally accepted methodologies of ‘Media Archaeology’ and ‘Creative Re-enactment’. Now, reflecting on several years of collecting, restoring, and performing with, actual magic lantern slides, actual magic lanterns, actual collaborators and actual audiences, I find myself using phrases such as ‘Apparatus Thinking’ and ‘Experiential Heritage’ to describe the research value I have derived from the project. I am still thinking through how my work and the work of my collaborators relates to other forms of material engagement, re-enactment and restoration, and would welcome the chance for a discussion.

Tim Sherratt

Secrets and lives

The collections of the National Archives of Australia are full of people – lives glimpsed, moments captured, secrets whispered. In this presentation I’ll explore means of reversing the gaze of government surveillance to open the archives to new connections and new meanings.

Artists at Light Speed: Short presentations

Tessa Bell

Bad Forms: Moving and thinking through makeshift digital ruins

Katie Hayne

We Planted Seventy Rose Bushes in the Rain: Painting on the edges of a public housing precinct undergoing urban renewal

Cathy Hope

Haig Park trees as cultural (not environmental) assets: Creative navigation of the complexities of placemaking in a heritage-listed park 

Haig Park Experiments was an innovative, large scale cross-sector temporary activation of an underused and unsafe green space in the centre of Canberra to trial community aspirations for the park. Haig Park’s heritage status as rare example of a windbelt, with its 1.8 kilometres of non-native trees in a row, made our creative programming approach with the constraints and opportunities of the trees as culturally (rather than environmentally) valuable a complex and fascinating exercise.

Martin Rowney

Art and heritage practice: Working in mutual support

Contemporary art practice has for some time been allied with, and embedded within, heritage management practice. History, historical places, and historical objects—the foundation material for heritage management practice—are also a rich source of inspiration for many artists, with practitioners from both disciplines seeking to interrogate, understand and present heritage places and values to the public. Art and heritage practice often work together in mutual support to assist in developing community identity, and to unfold alternative views of the past.

Martin’s talk will explore these ideas within his own art practice and as reflected through some works of other artists.

Joanne Searle

Cultivating weeds: a ceramic response to an invasive species in Namadgi National Park

Erica Seccombe

Working with seed banks: Art, community, and dormant collections

Ruth Waller

Rocks in my head

Ruth will outline how artists were introduced to exploring the Geoscience collection, show examples of the works they made, and reflect on the process and challenges of responding to such a spectacular storehouse of geological wonders.

Carolyn Young

Looking across time: Studies of rabbit-sized Australian mammals using the Cyanotype photography process

My cyanotype photographs form a study into rabbit-sized Australian mammals, the size category most vulnerable to being preyed upon by foxes and cats. When describing his experience of the Southern Brown Bandicoot the 19th century naturalist John Gould wrote, “I have frequently trodden upon the almost invisible nest of this species and aroused the sleeping pair within, which would then dart away with the utmost rapidity…” Such descriptions of abundancy litters Gould’s publication, The Mammals of Australia (London, 1863). We do not see this abundancy anymore. For those living in eucalypt woodlands of south-eastern Australia today, where Gould travelled, the cultural references are rabbits and Eastern Grey Kangaroos. The mammal re-introductions and ecological research taking place within the predator-proof fenced Mulligans-Flat Woodland Sanctuary (ACT) aims to bring back some of this biodiversity, and offers an experiential glimpse into past abundancy. In my artworks, my aim was to bring together aspects of 19th century experience of Australian mammals – including the burgeoning discipline of science, myths and exploitation - and overlay this with the scientific knowledge and first-hand experiences of today.

Panel speakers and discussants:

Ursula Frederick, Tracy Ireland, Edwina Jans, Denise Thwaites, Sharon Veale

Magic Lantern performance:

Martyn Jolly and Elisa DeCourcy

Exhibition drinks and private symposium viewing

M16 Artspace