Healthy people, healthy country and healthy art careers

Healthy people, healthy country and healthy art careers: Understanding creativity and cultural identities in new Indigenous artistic practices and industries

Creativity and Wellbeing Research Initiative Seed Funding Grant, The University of Melbourne

Dr Megan McPherson

Dr Kathryn Coleman

Associate Professor Sally Treloyn

This project is supported by a Creativity and Wellbeing Research Initiative Seed Funding Round 1 2019, The University of Melbourne.

Healthy people, healthy country and healthy art careers are intertwined in remote Indigenous communities. This collaborative research-creation approach investigates expression, exploration and understanding of artist-priorities and perspectives on artistic practice and identities, its significance for wellbeing and desired futures. Three Indigenous artist-researchers, from the Mowanjum Art Centre in west Kimberley, will undertake a 5 day printmaking residency at the Southbank campus in 2019, with a public art exhibition in 2020. By engaging in collaborative knowledge production and exchange in pedagogical, creative and cultural knowledge, the possibilities of artmaking as research will be explored and will develop diverse measures of the intersection of creativity and wellbeing.

Links between the social and emotional wellbeing of people and the physical and spiritual wellbeing of Country are widely recognised in Indigenous public and research spaces informing the trope ‘Healthy Country, Healthy People’ (Burgess & Morrison, 2007). While the role of artistic practice in this nexus is often assumed in the Indigenous context, little is yet known of the mechanisms for this (Australia Council, 2017). This research-creation approach (SSHRC, 2019) positions artmaking and collaborative research to produce knowledge about contemporary Indigenous arts practices, industries, creativity and wellbeing. The project will contribute to the national agenda and international research into the conditions for cultural, social and economic sustainability of creative and cultural practices (Schippers & Grant 2016).

The Research Partnership Development engages with Indigenous artist-researchers connected with the Mowanjum Art Centre in west Kimberley, and their practices in forms of material creativity, ceremonial performance, and oral expression. In the course of a Workshop On Country, Symposium and Ceremony (25-29 November 2019) at the Southbank campus, three Indigenous artist-researchers will develop a portfolio of printmaking artwork. The artist-researchers will be supported in the residency by an artist-printer to further develop their capacities to return to community. This knowledge-exchange supports the further development of printmaking in the remote area as a sustainable part of an artist’s portfolio career (Bridgstock, 2005, 2013).

We will be posting project progress and residency updates: Healthy art careers