When the studio left the room : what do Wallace’s paintings and stories of the Eastern Arrernte homelands reveal?

  • Judith Lovell

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The work of this thesis is to construct an intercultural interface in which a sample of eighteen paintings and stories are considered by researcher and artist as a body of knowledge. The sample is drawn from the contemporary painting and storytelling that Eastern Arrernte artist Kathleen Kemarre Wallace produced between 2003 and 2010 and which represents many public attributes of her homelands. A theory of practice emerges that encompasses the multimodal nature of cultural literacies as deep and cultural knowledge praxis. Wallace’s art objects, one result of cultural literacy praxis, are available to audience who are (a),culturally connected to the homelands source and (b),those engaged through the cosmopolitan Aboriginal arts market or (c),other everyday events. The art objects encompass visual, aural and oral, forms of data and a rubric for interpretation draws on hermeneutic circles of conversational dialogue and visual elicitation as well as holistic, thematic and theoretic coding and recoding of the sample from individual paintings and stories. The researcher approaches the methodological challenges of this multimodal data set as a bricoleuse working with the available methods (tools) to construct a suitable methodological bricolage. The artist and the researcher engage in a process of interpretation that determines growing insight of a public homelands habitus, constructed against Wallace’s inheritance of knowledge and her Indigenous Standpoint, and influences of western knowledge the researcher brings. Findings from the data reveal dispositions and attributes in the artist’s work draw from the opportunity to combine contemporary and ancient praxis in the mediation and transmission of knowledge. Among the findings are human and more-than-human ecology of the homelands, the impact and mediation of change within the homelands habitus, and the form relational nature of cultural literacy praxis. The fluid, ancient anytime and everyday temporality represented in Wallace’s paintings and storytelling of the homelands is a characteristic of this contemporary-ancient praxis continuum. The organisational structure of the kin and skin relationship system, and the intergenerational transmission and maintenance of knowledge are extant in the paintings as systems of organisation evident in the body of knowledge Wallace’s work represents. Dispositions and delimits of this intercultural interface reveal Wallace constructs against these extant cultural social and organisational structures, revealing insight layered into the paintings through her artistry, drawing on stories inherited from elders, ancestors and the beings active at the beginning of consciousness. A Theory of Cultural Literacy Praxis emerges from this thesis as agency of the arts-based and collaborative research.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPeter Radoll (Supervisor) & Carole Kayrooz (Supervisor)

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