Dr Susan Lowish
Search for online publications at the University of Melbourne digital repository
All forms of Australian art; Aboriginal art; Indigenous new media, film, photography and television; cross-cultural aesthetics; art and cultural heritage management; rock art; digital resources for art history.
BA in Visual Arts and BFA Hons (University of Tasmania); MA in Critical and Cultural Theory and PhD (Monash)
Susan is from Tasmania and studied photography/printmaking in both Launceston and Hobart before moving to Melbourne in 1997. Her postgraduate degrees are in critical and cultural theory and art history from the Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Monash University. As a student, Susan worked as a freelance photographer and crossword compiler. She is also a classically trained violinist, and has performed with the Launceston Orchestra, Tasmania State String Quartet and the Monash University Orchestra, and recorded with several contemporary music groups. In 2005, Susan was awarded her PhD in Art History, supervised by Dr Leigh Astbury, and became Lecturer in Australian Art History at the University of Melbourne later the same year.
Competitive grants, scholarships, awards and fellowships
Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society - Indigenous Education Seed Funding
|2010||Research Collaboration Grant, University of Melbourne|
|2008/9||Visiting Fellowship, Research School of Humanities, Australian National University|
|2007||Joint Research Project Grant, University of Melbourne|
|2006||Information Technology and Multimedia Grant, University of Melbourne|
|2006||Joint Research Project Grant, University of Melbourne|
|2006||Academic Support Grant, Council of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences|
|2005||Arts Faculty Seeding Grant, University of Melbourne|
|2005||IT & MM Conference Grant, University of Melbourne|
|2005||Early Career Researcher Grant, University of Melbourne|
|2004||Arts Postgraduate Publications Award, Monash University|
- Lowish, Susan. "Margaret Preston, Fish, 1949", in Visions Past and Present: Celebrating 40 Years, edited by Christopher Menz, Melbourne, Australia: Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne, 2012, pp. 80-81.
- Inglis, Alison and Susan Lowish. "Trepang: Crossing Cultures, Creating Connections", in Artlink 32 (2), 2012, pp.94-95
- Lowish, Susan. "Rethinking Aboriginal Art and Ethnology: New Displays in the Pitt Rivers Museum", in Artlink 31 (2), 2011, pp.118-119
- Lowish, Susan. "Setting the scene: early writing on Australian Aboriginal art", in Journal of Art Historiography 1 (2), 2011
- Lowish, Susan. "Collector's Dossier: John Wolseley", Australian Art Collector, Issue 53, July- September 2010, p. 206.
- Lowish, Susan. "Writing/righting a history of Australian Aboriginal art", in Humanities Research 15 (2), 2009, pp.133-151
- Lowish, Susan. "Review of Howard Morphy's Becoming Art: Exploring Cross-Cultural Categories," in History Australia, 6 (2), 2009, pp.54.1-54.3
- Lowish, Susan. "Urban Bush Bashing? Some Indigenous Artists' Responses to the Australian Government's Intervention in the Northern Territory," in Anderson, Jaynie (ed.). Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration and Convergence. Parkville, Australia: Melbourne University Publishing, 2009, pp.718-724
- Lowish, Susan. "Recognising Indigenous Aesthetics," in The Inaugural Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards (exhibition catalogue). Perth: Art Gallery of Western Australia, 2008, pp.8-10
- Lowish, Susan and Marina Strocchi. "Pintupi Women," in Pintupi Women, (exhibition catalogue). Melbourne, Australia: Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, 2008, u.pag.
- Lowish, Susan. "Ara Irititja: Adding more value to art through education," in SangSaeng, No.20, South Korea: Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) under the auspices of UNESCO, 2007, pp.8-11
- Lowish, Susan. "Gordon Bennett: reading pictures," in Ewington, J. and Seear, L. (eds.). Brought to light II: Contemporary Australian Art 1966-2006. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland Art Gallery, 2007, pp.189-195
- Lowish, Susan. "Too Many Tjakamarras? a review of The New McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art," in Australian Book Review 296, November 2007, pp.20-21
- Lowish, Susan. "Genevieve Grieves:Picturing the Old People," in Un magazine 7, Autumn 2006, pp.28-31
- Lowish, Susan. "A Land Mark Show," in Meanjin 1, 2006, pp.122-124
- Lowish, Susan. Who Am I?: New Works from Brian McKinnon, (exhibition catalogue) Indigenart, Melbourne, 2006, u.pag.
- Lowish, Susan. "Review of Twined Together: Kunmadj Njalehnjaleken," in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, Volume 7, Number 1, 2006, pp.204-207
- Lowish, Susan (compiled with Elina Spilia). "Chronology," in Ryan, Judith. Land Marks. With contributions by Stephen Gilchrist, Julie Gough and Paul Taçon. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2006, pp.140-144
- Lowish, Susan. "European Vision and Aboriginal art: Blindness and Insight in the work of Bernard Smith," in Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology vol. 82, August 2005, pp.62-72
- Lowish, Susan. "Yukai: Rising Stars," in Rising Stars 2005 (exhibition catalogue). Melbourne, Australia: Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, 2005, pp.1-3
- Lowish, Susan. "'Portrait of an artist as an angry young man', the recent work of Christian Bumbarra Thompson," in Local Art 13, July 2004, pp.6-9
- Lowish, Susan. "Review of Painting Country, Fred Myers, Duke University Press, 2002," in Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology, No.77. London: Sage Publications, 2004, pp.134-138
Lowish, Susan (with Denise Cuthbert, Cheryl Earnshaw, Stephen Pritchard and Ceridwen Spark). "Aboriginal Identity, Culture and Art," in McQuillan, Martin (ed.). The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 11. Oxford, UK: published for The English Association, Oxford University Press, 2003, pp.258-265
- Lowish, Susan (with Denise Cuthbert, Stephen Pritchard and Ceridwen Spark). '14. The Year in Art' in "Aboriginal Identity, Culture and Art," in McGowan, Kate (ed.). The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 10. Oxford, UK: published for The English Association, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp.259-333
Lowish, Susan (with Denise Cuthbert, Kate Cregan, Muldoon and Ceridwen Spark). "Aboriginal Art, Identity and Culture," in McGowan, Kate (ed.). The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 9. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp.239-302
- Lowish, Susan (with Kate Cregan, Denise Cuthbert, Stephen Pritchard and Ceridwen Spark). "Aboriginal identity, culture and art: 'Citizenship, history, rights and community'," in McGowan, Kate (ed.). The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 8. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2001, pp.172-226
- PhD Thesis, "Writing on Aboriginal Art 1802-1929: a critical and cultural analysis of the construction of a category", Monash University, 2004
- MA Thesis, "Something More: Hybridity and Pluralism in the Work of Tracey Moffatt", Monash University, 1997
Public lectures, conferences, symposia and research seminars
- Lowish, Susan. "Securing a Stronger Future for Aboriginal Art: Assessing recent government policy and its impact on Australia's Indigenous visual arts and craft sector", Indigenous Cultures 2012 Seminar Series, Museum Victoria, 8 November 2012.
- Lowish, Susan. "Digital Art Histories for the Aboriginal Arts Industry", eResearch Forum, Faculty of Arts, 12 October 2012.
- Lowish, Susan. "Rock Art and Art History: exploring disciplinary perspectives", Australian Rock Art Research Association Inter-Congress Symposium, Flinders University, Adelaide, 22-23 September 2012.
- Lowish, Susan. "The University's collections of Australian Indigenous art and visual culture", Cultural Treasures Festival 2012 Lecture Program, 29 July 2012.
- Lowish, Susan. "Aboriginal Art on Location", The Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society, Central Victoria, Kyneton Town Hall, 14 June 2012.
- Lowish, Susan. "Aboriginal art's digital future: current issues, new initiatives." Art History seminar program, University of Melbourne, 2 May 2012.
- Lowish, Susan. "Exchange and Obligation: the Gift of Aboriginal Art" (revised title), Old Paintings, Old Stories from the very long time - a symposium hosted in association with the exhibition, Ancestral Power and the Aesthetic - Arnhem Land Paintings and Objects from the Donald Thomson Collection, Discovery Centre, Melbourne Museum, 28-29 November 2011
- Lowish, Susan. "Digital Archiving Aboriginal Art," at Inaugural Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Research Symposium, University of Melbourne, 3 November 2011
- Lowish, Susan. "Attachments to Stone: Realising Australia's relationship to rock art," at Hearts and Stones: An interdisciplinary workshop, ARC Centre for Excellence for the History of the Emotions, University of Melbourne, 28-30 July 2011
- Lowish, Susan. "Cultural Convergence and Contemporary Aboriginal Art," Museums Australia Seminar, Monash University, 21 October 2011
- Lowish, Susan. "On Safari! Learning about Australian Aboriginal Rock Art," Melbourne Savage Club, 20 April 2011
- Lowish, Susan. "Rock Art in Australian Art History," at Tradition and Transformation, AAANZ Annual Conference, University of Adelaide, University of South Australia and Art Gallery of South Australia, 1-4 December, 2010
- Lowish, Susan. "Art History in the Field," Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, 4 November 2010
- Lowish, Susan. "Setting the scene: early writing on Australian Aboriginal Art," at Art History's History in Australia and New Zealand, The initiative to establish the Australian Institute of Art History, the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand and the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 28-29 August, 2010
- Lowish, Susan. "Indigenous agency, western aesthetics and art history," at Borders, theory, art and power: Contemporary borders, theory and art journeys in the reciprocal construction of identity between Australia and Europe, The Second Imagined Australia International Research Forum, University of Bari, Italy, 17-19 June 2009
- Lowish, Susan. "Treasuring Aboriginal Art: exploring the confluence of differing systems of value," Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA, 15 May 2009
- Lowish, Susan. "An art history for Aboriginal art," Department of Art and Art History, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, 23 April 2009
- Lowish, Susan. "The Object of Australian Aboriginal Art History," Public Cultures: Museums and Collection Seminar Series, Research School of Humanities, Australian National University, 4 March, 2009
- Lowish, Susan. "Towards a history of Indigenous Ceramics," Inaugural Indigenous Ceramics Award, Shepparton Art Gallery, 7 February, 2008
- Lowish, Susan. "Urban bush bashing? Some Indigenous Responses to the Australian Government's Emergency Intervention into the Northern Territory," at Crossing Cultures,the 32nd Congress of the International Committee of the History of Art, University of Melbourne, January 2008
- Lowish, Susan. "New Internationalism and the need for something more," Collection in Context Lecture: Tracey Moffatt, Queensland Art Gallery, 27 October, 2007
- Lowish, Susan. "Chinese Whispers: Wanjina Drawings in the State Library of Victoria," at Drawn Together: a two-day symposium exploring the practice and collection of Indigenous drawing in Australia, Old Canberra House, ANU, 28-29 May 2007
- Lowish, Susan. "Aboriginal/Australian Art History," at Rethinking the Past: Experimental Histories in the Arts, University of Technology, Sydney 28-29 July 2006
- Lowish, Susan. "Intersections: Figuring the Indigenous in Australia's Art History," Inaugural Postdoctoral Lecture, Fine Arts Network, Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre, University of Melbourne, Victoria, 2005
- Lowish, Susan. "Tracey Moffatt: Professional Artist," Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill, Vic., 20 June 2005
- Lowish, Susan. "Australian Art: History, Narrative, Vision," McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park Langwarrin, Vic., 9 June 2005
- Lowish, Susan. "Aboriginal Art: Community Culture in the Public Domain," at Third International Conference on New Directions in Humanities, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, 2005
- Lowish, Susan. "Filling in the Gaps: Moffatt's Meta-Narratives," part of the public program for Good Looking: Narrative Photographs Past and Present, National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne, Victoria, 2004
- Lowish, Susan. "Writing "Art" into(?) Australian Art History," at Dialogues Across Cultures, hosted by the Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies at Monash University, 2004
- Lowish, Susan. "Episodes in the historical reception of "Aboriginal art", from the nineteenth century," Staff Seminar, Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies, Monash University, 2004
- Lowish, Susan. "European Vision and Aboriginal Art: Blindness and Insight in the Work of Bernard Smith," at Thesis Eleven Centre for Critical Theory Annual Lecture and Seminar, Latrobe University, Melbourne, 2003
- Lowish, Susan. "Australian Indigenous Painting and Photography," Ormond College Art Club foundation lecture, Ormond College, Melbourne, Victoria 2002
- Lowish, Susan. "The Aboriginal Art Revolution," at Art Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2002
- Lowish, Susan. "Recent Developments in the Continuing Saga of the So-called Bradshaw Figures," at Postgraduate Colloquium, Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Monash University, 2002
Other public speaking and community engagement
- 2012 radio interview on 'Australian art' with A/Prof Alison Inglis for SYN student radio network, 10 October 2012.
- 2012 radio interview on 'Australian Rock Art' for The Wire: independent current affairs network, 18 June 2012.
- 2011 The Second Kimberley Indigenous Art Auction, guest speaker, fundraising for St Mary's Broome Cultural Exchange Program, Xavier College, Kew, 9 September 2011
- 2011 Podcast, 'Richard Browne', for the exhibtion "Experimental gentlemen, Works from the Sir Russell and Mab Grimwade 'Miegunyah'collection", Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, 19 March 2011 to 25 September 2011
- 2010 World Vision Aboriginal Art Sale, guest speaker, Burwood, Melbourne 25, November
- 2010 Member of the Selection Committee, Nillumbik Prize, Montsalvat
- 2009 Floortalk, 'Timeless: Bark Paintings from Arnhem Land', Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA, 16 May 2009
- 2008 Radio interview, Aboriginal Art – it's a White Thing?, with Richard Bell, RTRFM 92.1, Perth, Western Australia, 10 am Monday 11 August 2008
- 2008 Public presentation and panel discussion, 'Beyond the Colour Line', Dialogues and Dilemmas in contemporary visual art, Bureau of Ideas, Perth Western Australia, August 2008.
- 2008 Floortalk, Visiting The Great Painting, with Mr Brian McKinnon, Indigenous Project Office, National Gallery of Victoria, NGV Tuesday 29 April 2008, 12:00 midday
- 2008 Opening Speech, Kunwinjku Songman: The First Solo Show from Bruce Nabegeyo & Lineage in Linear: The First Solo Show from Glen Namundja, The Mossenson Galleries Collingwood, in conjunction with Injalak Arts and Crafts, 6pm, Thursday 13 March 2008
- 2007 Floortalk, Old Messages/New Media, an exhibition of six contemporary Indigenous artists, Counihan Gallery, Brunswick, 26 May, 2007
- 2007 Guest speaker, Gordon Bennett's Tryptich, Look Out teacher program, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Brisbane, 30 March, 2007
- 2007 Panelist, Writing Art/History, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1 April, 2007
- 2006 Academic Convenor, National Symposium, New Visions: Histories of Art in Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, 3 June 2006
- 2006 Guest Speaker, Exploring Land Marks: Insights into Contemporary Indigenous Art National Gallery of Victoria Women's Association, 26 April, 2006
- 2005 Opened the exhibition, 'Intertidal', at the invitation of the artist, Julie Gough, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Vic., 10 May, 2005
- 2005 Live Broadcast , Member of panel discussion with Jane Scott, curator MGA, Jason Smith, curator NGV, on work of Tracey Moffatt. Part of Sunday arts program called 'Openings'. 3PBS Radio, Collingwood, Victoria, 2005
Professional memberships and editorial positions
- Member of the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (Victorian Representative 2009-2012);
- Member of the Australian Rock Art Research Association;
- Member of Art Education Australia;
- Expert Reviewer, UNESCO E-journal, Observatory on Multi-Disciplinary Research in the Arts, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning;
- Peer Reviewer for Oculus: Postgraduate Journal for Visual Arts Research, University of Canterbury New Zealand.
Cross-cultural perspectives on a trans-continental connection: brining an important American archive of Australian Aboriginal art to life
Type of Project: 2010 Research Collaboration Grant
The project involves the preservation, utilization and transmission of a significant collection of Australian Aboriginal art held at the University of Virginia, USA. It is the basis for larger collaborative grant applications to digitise the collection for teaching and research purposes.
An art history for Aboriginal Art: From Oenpelli to Ernabella.
Type of Project: 2009 RSH Visiting Fellowship
This project is concerned with the history of art from two important regions in Australia: the Gunbalanya/Oenpelli region of West Arnhem Land and the Ernabella region of extreme northern South Australia. These regions are historically significant because they have yielded one of the oldest and largest collections of Aboriginal bark paintings (the Spencer Collection) and produced one of the oldest continuing Aboriginal art centres in Australia (Ernabella Arts and Crafts). This project seeks to map an art history of these two regions that is primarily for the respective communities but will also operate as a bridge between the fields of Australian art history and Aboriginal art.
Aboriginal art history in the Central Desert: artwork from Ernabella
Type of Project: Joint Research Project
Collaborators: John Dallwitz, Coordinator, Ara Irititja Project, Social History Unit, Pitjantjatjara Council
This project looks at a specific archive of material related to Ernabella Arts, the oldest continuing Aboriginal art centre in Australia. Currently sitting in storage at the South Australian Museum, this material is yet to be fully documented or researched but includes paintings, fabric, small paper works, craft objects, documents and photographs dating back to the 1950s. The project involves assessing the archive, documenting and data entry.
Aboriginal Art on Display: Histories and Theories of Exhibition
Type of Project: Early Career Research
This project involves documenting, analysing and categorising Aboriginal art exhibitions in Australia from the first displays of drawings on paper and bark in the 1850s and 1860s through to the showcase exhibitions accompanying the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. It consists of a timeline, database and a series of critical essays.
New Visions: Histories of Art in Australia
Type of Project: Arts Faculty Seeding Grant
Collaborators: Judith Ryan, NGV Australia, the Fine Arts Network
A National Symposium, jointly run by the National Gallery of Victoria and the University of Melbourne, designed to open up discussion on the intersection of Aboriginal Art and Australian Art History and featuring a number of prominent speakers (artists, historians, curators) from across Australia.
Specialised Multimedia Learning for Australian Indigenous Studies subjects
Type of Project: Information Technology and Multimedia Grant
Collaborators: Dr Michelle Duffy, Australian Centre
A collaborative project to design and implement an interactive web-based teaching tool in Indigenous Studies that integrates image, sound and text, demonstrating aspects of some Indigenous knowledge systems and encouraging research excellence.
Current undergraduate teaching
- AHIS20002 Australian Art - an introductory survey of the history of art in Australia, from rock art to 1968
- AHIS30005 Contemporary Aboriginal Art - beginning with the birth of the acrylic painting movement in Papunya in the Western Desert and ending with the latest in new media
- AHIS40006 Postcolonial Visual Art - a global survey of contemporary art responding to the legacies of colonisation
Susan has also developed new subjects:
- AHIS40016 Aboriginal Art in the Northern Territory - an 18 day intensive fieldwork subject taught on location throughout the Northern Territory
- AHIS40002 Indigenous Photography, New Media, Film - taught collaboratively with prominent Australian Indigenous artists
Full subject descriptions are available on the University of Melbourne Handbook.
- Kira Randolph – Aboriginal Art in America (current)
- Sarah Wall – Aboriginal Art in Europe (current)
- Rosemary Forde – Independent Art Publishing in Melbourne (completed 2009)
- Cathie Stocky – Jack Courier: Master Lithographer (completed 2008)
Hons/Postgrad Dip/MA Curatorship
- Bill Abrahams - Robert Dowling (completed 2010)
- Huw Hallam - World art history (completed 2009)
Administration and committees
- 2012 - School Advancement, Web and Engagement Co-ordinator
- 2011 - current, Member, Indigenous Employment Framework Steering Committee, Faculty of Arts
- 2011 - current, Webmaster, Art History Program
- 2009 - current, Honours Coordinator, Art History Program, University of Melbourne
- 2007 - 2008 Honours and Graduate Coursework Coordinator, Australian Indigenous Studies Program
- 2007 Member, Equal Opportunities for Women in the Workforce Committee, Faculty of Arts
- 2006 – current, Observer, Donald Thomson Collection Committee, Melbourne Museum
- 2005 - 2009, Departmental Representative, School of Culture and Communication Ethics Committee
- 2005 - 2006, Chair, Departmental Ethics Advisory Group, School of Art History, Cinema, Classics and Archaeology