This blog captures my interest in curious, open-ended, sometimes contrary, occasionally pugnacious, always authentic, encounters with contemporary art. I think of it as the B-side to my doctoral thesis which explores and theorises how art – in galleries and museums – can be the catalyst for transformational encounters. I am undertaking this research with the Faculty of Education, Cambridge University UK and the Faculty of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University, Australia.
Australian born, I grew up travelling through England and Europe with my dad’s band. During these peripatetic early years I loved being in galleries and classrooms, to me they were spaces of playful, romantic, creative encounters, providing a welcoming community even when I didn’t speak the local language. I am continuing to pursue my delight in art and in education through my doctoral studies and aim to make the practice of Artful-Relational-Cultural-Mediation more accessible to more people. I use the term ‘Artful-Relational-Cultural-Mediation’ to convey the kind of engaged art appreciation I am interested in theorising and promoting in my research. Working with photography and video art, and positioning the body as a contested site, I will work with contemporary artists, and emerging scholars from The University of Cambridge and Western Sydney University as the next generation of influencers, to illuminate/illustrate/show how contemporary art can be an agent of change that can provoke critical awareness and help shape people’s thinking – politically, culturally, socially and ecologically.
My research is concerned with examining the what, the why, the how and the consequence of engaging strangers, through a process of cultural mediation in meaningful conversations about contemporary art that enacts activism. The motivation to examine the efficacy of cultural mediation in navigating differences illuminated/elevated/negotiated through conversations in relationship to contemporary art, is to consider how effective cultural mediation can be in support of gallery and museums publicly funded, political imperative to act as democratic, civic spaces of social, aesthetic and political engagement that contributes to personal well being and social cohesion as defined in Create NSW arts policy.
My career objectives are to operate as a consultant increasing the efficacy of the cultural mediation that takes place in public galleries as an enactment of Create NSW Arts and Policy Framework. I am particularly interested in issues around access that focus not only on increased participation but also on participation as a holistic encounter that deepens audeircnes engagement with meaningful, affective engagement experiences. I am interested in understanding internal and external stakeholder relationships to each other, to audiences and to the cultural experiences they support, in order to increase the value engagement in these roles brings to the stakeholders and to the programs and to diverse sector audiences.
I am interested in policy enactment, in particular closing the gap between policy objectives and fulfilment of those objectives in the cultural sector, for the greatest good for the greatest number. I am also interested in program development and delivery that seeks to be an affirmative, effective and increase the enjoyment and engagement and cultural and social capitol of audiences.
When facilitating cultural mediation in public galleries cultural mediators have the potential, especially when working with intercultural artworks that enact activism, to find themselves situated in a site of provocation and of potential misunderstanding, ‘Museums are places where meanings can be considered, shared, affirmed, contested, discarded, or changed (Hooper-Greenhill, 1992) and individuals, groups, and even society may change as well. (Silverman, p. 16). There sites are also sites of potential opportunities to effect and affect audiences and to effect affirmative change – I am expecting that the learnings from the my research into these complex encounters will allow me to bring these learnings to the larger field in the service of individual agency and community cohesion.
I am reflexive and responsive and excited to move into a consultant role in the cultural sector. I am enthusiastic to continue to support the excellent work being done by practitioners in the cultural sector and amplify the relevance, resonance and sustainability of programs that work to increase the arts role in building and supporting diverse flourishing communities in NSW and across Australia.
Arts 2025, Create in NSW Arts and Cultural Policy Framework
Silverman, L.H. (2010), The Social Work of Museums, Routledge.
Hooper-Greenhill, E. (1992). Museums and the shaping of knowledge (Heritage). London ; New York: Routledge.
A reflection on Courses, Mentoring and Learning Experiences I’ve participated in, during 2021
In a year of Teflon coated zoom experiences – I have had several standout learning opportunities:
I’ve worked with literacy mentor Susan Mowbray though out the year and learnt what grace looks and sounds like in a mentor.
I’ve been in email communciation with Phil Beadle, education maverick, song writer and musician, and the author of ten books about teaching and learning, whose interlocutions taught me to question ego, whilst also keeping the ego alive and ready for the next round.
I’ve also done a full days training on completing the Confirmation of Candidature with WSU, which wasn’t much use to me as I was still viewing the PhD as a magnum opus. I now realise a PhD is a contained and bounded project that needs to be achievable in a bounded time frame – and am doing the course again – this time with a deeper understanding of what I need to achieve.
I’ve been on the committee for Cambridge University’s Arts and Creativity Research Group and then attended their monthly research seminars on performing research.
I’ve attended monthly doctoral meetups with Cambridge University’s Education Faculty, as I am being co-supervised by Professor Pamela Burnard. My presentation on my research is due in June.
I’ve attended DRAW monthly meetings – Departing Radically in Academic Research, at University of Queensland
I’ve had a mentoring session with Laura my PhD librarian – which was so valuable and something I’d recommend to other early stage researchers. It’s challenging to ‘map my field’ of cultural mediation as it is not widely written about in English, being originally a French concept – which means most of the literature is in French!
I will be presenting at Cambridge University’s, 2021 Kaleidoscope Conference for the Education Faculty, on 3 June, presenting a paper called, ‘Exploring the potential of cultural mediation to enact care-for proximate strangers in art gallery and museum practices’.