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Prof Joanna Bourke
Birkbeck, London, editor of
War and Art: A Visual History of Modern Conflict (2017)

"Cruel Visions: Reflections on Artists and Atrocities"

An International Symposium on the Art and Visual Culture of War, Conflict and Political Violence

Monday 25 February 2019, SH Ervin Gallery, Sydney, Australia

War, Art and Visual Culture: 


Dr George Gittoes AM 
Sydney Peace Prize 2015, 
Bassel Shehadeh Award for Social Justice USA 2013

"Crossing the Lines"

Click here to download
a PDF document of the
full symposium program

War, Art and Visual Culture: Sydney was held on Monday 25 February 2019.  The symposium aimed at exploring these complexities and generating new knowledge in this growing field.  It was the first of a series of four international symposia in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.


Today’s images of war and violent conflict are unlike those of the past – and the stakes are particularly high.  News images of attacks on major European cities are immediate and their presentation emotive, videos of ISIS beheadings or military strikes spark across the internet in seconds, and contemporary war artists reflect on these images, sometimes offering alternative perspectives on war and violence.  Artists and photojournalists are often embedded with troops, while others risk everything to work independently.  Some voices dominate, while others are excluded.  In recent years, then, the art and visual culture surrounding conflict is diverse and politically complex. 



SH Ervin Gallery, Sydney (8:30am - 6:00pm, Monday 25 February 2019) 


8:30am Introduction: A/Prof Kit Messham-Muir, Curtin University


8:40am Keynote: Professor Joanna Bourke, Birkbeck University of London
Cruel Visions: Reflections on Artists and Atrocities 

Session 1 (Parallel Session: Room 1)
Art, Conflict and Reconciliation (9:30am - 10:50am) 
Chair: Dr Uroš Čvoro, University of New South Wales Art & Design

9:30am: Professor Catherine Speck, University of Adelaide
‘Thunder raining poison’: How contemporary Aboriginal artists are responding to the nuclear bomb tests of the Cold War era  


9:50am: Dr Chrisoula Lionis, University of Manchester
Cracking the ‘scopic regime’: Laughter and enactments of statehood in Palestinian art 


10:10am: Professor Paul Lowe, University Arts London
Evaluating the role of Artistic production in Post Conflict society: Art and Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community 


10:30am: Discussion 


Session 2 (Parallel Session: Room 2)
Official and Unofficial (9:30am - 10:50am) 
Chair: Ryan Johnston, Buxton Contemporary

9:30am: Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox, Artist (Brisbane)
Art and Resistance: New Landscapes in the Drone Age 

9:50am: Ally Roche, Australian War Memorial
Gary Ramage, combat photographer: Capturing the Australian soldier in conflict 


10:10am: Discussion 


10:50am: Coffee Break (10:50am - 11:10am) 


Session 3 (Parallel Session: Room 1)
Excluded Voices (11:10am - 12:30pm) 
Chair: Laura Webster, Head of Art, Australian War Memorial


11:10am: Richard Travers, Author (Bowral)
War, Commemoration and Widowhood 


11:30am: Dr Sarah Minslow, University of North Carolina Charlotte
The Visual Art of Conflict in Books for Young Readers 


11:50pm: Dr Helen Berents, Queensland University of Technology
Aesthetics, Politics and Emotion: Images of dead children in conflict and crises  


12:10pm: Discussion 


Session 4 (Parallel Session: Room 2)
The Viewfinder (11:10am - 12:30pm) 
Chair: Dr Paul Lowe, University Arts London


11:10am: Andrew Tenison, Researcher Worshipping Death: The Visual and Audio Language of Martyrdom In Contemporary Jihadism 

11:30pm: Discussion 


12:30pm: Lunch Break: 12:30pm-1:30pm 


1:30pm: Keynote (Room 1): George Gittoes AM, Artist 
Crossing the Lines


Session 5 (Parallel Session: Room 1)
Representation (2:15pm - 3:35pm) 
Chair: Dr Sarah Gregg Minslow, University of North Carolina Charlotte

2:15pm: Emily Shoyer, Institute of Fine Arts, New York UniversityRendering the Victims of the Nigerian Civil War (Jul 6, 1967 – Jan 15, 1970): The Paintings of Obiora Udechukwu 


2:35pm:Niall McMahon, Curtin University Invisible Targets: My Way and the representation of World War II in the South Korean historical film 


2:55pm: Discussion 


Session 6 (Parallel Session: Room 2)
Soldiers (2:15pm - 3:35pm) 
Chair: Prof Joanna Bourke, Birkbeck University London

2:15pm: Baptist Coelho, Artist (Mumbai)
They agreed to eat biscuits and European bread, but our regiment refused (Indian soldiers’ letters, 1914-18) 


2:35pm: Alice Evans, Australian War Memorial
Beyond the Material: The Trench Art of Sapper Stanley Keith Pearl and the First World War 

2:55pm: Georgia Vesma, University of Manchester
The Objectified Male American in Catherine Leroy’s ‘Up Hill 881 with the Marines’ 

3:15pm: Discussion 


3:35pm: Coffee Break (3:35pm - 3:55pm) 


Session 7 (Plenary Session: Room 1)
Artists, institutions, publics: contemporary responses to conflict (3:55pm - 5:15pm) 
Chair: Dr Paul Lowe, University Arts London


3:55pm: Dr Mikala Tai, Gallery 4A Personal histories, personal archives 


4:15pm: Dr Kate Warren, Australian National University Researching art; Art as research 


4:35pm: Discussion


5:15pm: Drinks in the SH Ervin Gallery and
Gallery Talk by special guest Wendy Sharpe, former Australian Official War Artist 


6:00pm: End 


Please direct any questions to Prof Kit Messham-Muir at  

Prof Kit Messham-Muir
Lead Investigator, Art in Conflict project
School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry
GPO Box U1987
Perth Western Australia 6845

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