Ph. D. (Flinders University).The Spirit of Change in Museums: A study of the influences of Indigenous cultural and spiritual beliefs and values on contemporary museum practice.
M.A. in Museum Studies (Uni of Leicester). Cultures on Display: Contemporary Museum Practices in the Display & Interpretation of Cultures.
PGCE - Post-graduate Certificate in Education in Art and Design (Moray House College of Education).
B.A. (Hons) in Art – Sculpture and Ceramics (Heriot Watt University). Thesis topic: North West Coast Indian Art: Cultural and Environmental Influences. (Awarded Andrew Grant Travelling Scholarship).
I combine expertise in arts education, visual literacy, curation of art and ethnography exhibitions, and museum and gallery education. I specialise in cultural diversity, interactive learning, and novel approaches to art gallery display and labelling to actively engage audiences of all ages with artworks.
My experience includes exhibition curation, education and public programming in museums and art galleries; training gallery guides in visual thinking strategies and interactive guiding methods; teaching art and art education in schools, universities, museums and art galleries; and research and consultancy for museums and art galleries.
As an artist and art educator, I work with a variety of media including fibre arts, sculpture and encaustic. My teaching skills include: visual arts; art education; non-western art histories; museum, gallery and heritage studies.
As an academic, I have completed a number of commissioned research reports for local and national museums and art galleries, and professional organisations, including international research. This has focused primarily on the display and interpretation of art and ethnography in contemporary museums and art galleries, cultural diversity issues, and the development of culturally-sensitive approaches to the display and interpretation of Indigenous art and cultural materials.
As an artist, educator and researcher, I have pursued my interests in visual arts and cultural diversity by travelling to many parts of the world to learn firsthand about traditional and contemporary art forms. These research trips and study visits have taken me to Indigenous Australian communities in Central Australia, Arnhem Land and Queensland; the Islands of Haida Gwai in northern British Columbia; the Blackfoot First Nations reserves in Alberta; the Pueblo and Navajo Native American reservations in New Mexico and Arizona, USA; archaeological sites in central Mexico; the Highlands and Sepik River of Papua New Guinea; craft villages in Bali and Java; and various sites in central and northern Thailand. During these visits, I have engaged with and worked collaboratively with local peoples of many cultural backgrounds, as well as visiting many museums, art galleries and cultural centres to view collections and meet with curatorial and education staff members.
I have also conducted research into the development of art galleries and museums designed specifically for young audiences to stimulate children’s engagement with visual arts and cultural materials through participatory display techniques and creative activities. When working as Visual Art and Design Education Coordinator at Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston, Tasmania – Australia’s largest regional museum and art gallery - I developed ArtSparks! Family Art Space, an interactive gallery and activity area designed for young children (http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/qvmag/?c=85 ).
I have published over 60 books, book chapters, journal articles, conference papers, and reports. My research crosses disciplines and my publications are used by scholars and students in universities in various countries in courses in Visual Arts, History of Art, Museum Studies, Heritage Studies, Anthropology, Cultural Studies and Cultural Geography (see attached publications’ list).
- Principal, Evocative Art and Heritage (Museum and gallery curator and consultant. Organiser of adult and school-based art workshops). For further details see www.e-vocative.com
- Editor, Textile Fibre Forum magazine, ArtWear Publications, Australia.
- Independent grant assessor for the Ministry of Arts’ Catalyst program.
- Volunteer: Australian Aboriginal Material Cultures Digitisation Project, South Australian Museum.
- Member of the Adelaide Hills Council Heritage, Arts and Culture Working Group.
- Member of the Editorial Board of Museum and Society, Leicester, UK.
- Member of the Board of the Independent Arts Foundation, South Australia.
- Member of the Board of Hahndorf Academy Museum and Art Gallery, South Australia.
- Member of the Committee of Museums Australia, South Australian branch.
COMMISSIONED RESEARCH, ADVISORY ROLES AND POLICY DEVELOPMENT
2012 - 2013 Member of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Reference Group for the project: Collaborative exchanges with museums to engage Humanities and Education students in experiential learning and citizenship.
2002 – Board of Hahndorf Academy: Hahndorf Academy: Preserving Heritage and the Arts – A Collection Development Plan.
2001-2002: Commissioned by the North East Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to assess and make recommendations on culturally-sensitive objects in the collections of three museums.
1997-2001: Museums Association (UK) adviser and representative on Repatriation Guidelines Steering Group and national Museums Standing Advisory Group on Repatriation and Related Cultural Property Issues.
1996-7: commissioned by the MA (UK) to investigate attitudes of museum staff regarding issues of repatriation, and to survey and research policies and experiences of UK museums in handling requests for repatriation of artefacts. Recommended development of national repatriation policy guidelines, subsequently launched in 2000.
1993-4: Commissioned by the Museums Association (UK) to survey and research policies and experiences of British museums in storing, displaying and handling requests for repatriation of human remains.
1991: Research in the USA into strategies for presentation and interpretation of African American history and slavery topics. Provided consultation advice to National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside in development of the Atlantic Slave Trade Gallery.
MAJOR RESEARCH PROJECTS
My research focuses on cultural diversity in museums and current practices in the display and interpretation of non-western cultural materials in museums internationally, including mainstream, ethnic and Indigenous museums.
2004-5: Doctoral studies: field research in Arnhem Land and Victoria, Australia, and British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, exploring influences of Indigenous cultural and spiritual beliefs on contemporary museum practices and examining Indigenous Australian and Canadian First Nations museums and cultural centres.
1998: Conducted research in the USA examining art galleries and interpretive techniques designed specifically for children to enhance learning through engagement with original art works and creative activities.
1991-96: Research for book ‘Making Representations: Museums in the Post-colonial Era’ - three overseas research trips to visit museums and communities in Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand. Issues examined include: museums and indigenous peoples, display and interpretative practices, repatriation policies, and indigenous museums and cultural centres.
1989: Research in Dutch museums: examined cross-cultural interpretation of ethnographic collections and education programs.
2011 – Invited to contribute to the Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology published by Springer, two articles defining:Multiculturalism and Museums: Exhibiting Diversity and Ethnomuseology.
2010 - Invited to participate in “Crossing Borders”, an innovative contemporary art project organised by the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology, which presented work of 12 contemporary artists from around the world “who engage in a dialogue about cultural boundaries, within and among communities, art practices, audiences, or museum’s art collections”. I wrote an essay responding to work of Australian Indigenous artist Ron Yunkaporta, published in the interactive online exhibition catalogue.
I have been invited to contribute to chapters to a number of highly regarded museological text books and to deliver key note presentations at international conferences in the UK, Thailand, Greece, Portugal, and Greenland.
GRANTS AND AWARDS
- Cathy Candler Grant by the Australian Federation of University Women (AFUW)
- Overseas Field Trip Award from Flinders University for research in Canada and the USA in 2004.
- Post-graduate Travel Award by the Association of Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand
- Australian Post-graduate Award (APA) for doctoral research into museology and Indigenous spiritual beliefs.
- Travel grant from the Flinders University for field work in Arnhem Land and Central Australia.
- Research in museums in the USA in order to study the design and presentation of art exhibitions for children.
- Research and Innovations grant, University of Warwick for field research in Canada and the United States,
- Madeleine Mainstone Trust Study Scholarship to conduct research in the Netherlands.
- Andrew Grant Travelling Scholarship, Edinburgh College of Art / Heriot Watt University.