Thinking Through the Arts


The JMCCCP is collaborating with the Adelaide Hills Council and local arts and heritage hub FABRIK to deliver a series of six public lectures on Wednesday evenings in the Hills. Thinking through the Arts explores the way different mediums and art forms think materially. 



25 September

Anna Goldsworthy – “Piano Lessons: lessons in life and music”

Anna Goldsworthy discusses the inspiration and reception of her debut memoir, Piano Lessons. In a personal and wide-ranging conversation, Anna expands upon the lessons imparted in the studio of her teacher, Eleonora Sivan, which were lessons not just of music and art but of life.


2 October

Maggie Tonkin – “Thinking through the Feet”

Dance begins and ends with the body. Dance is an orally transmitted art form, in which the dancer’s body functions as an archive. The body not only moves, but it also knows. Contemporary choreography can be thought of as a form of world making, in which the choreographer creates the movement language for the body to speak. Choreographers approach this in various ways, but increasingly rely on the input of dancers to forge the movement language of each work. Drawing on film and archival material, this talk will examine the creation of movement languages by renowned Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard to illustrate how contemporary dance allows the thinking body to speak.


9 October

Madeleine Seys - “Thinking through Cloth”

Cloth is the very stuff of our lives. In Western cultures, cloth swaddles us at birth, and shrouds us upon death. It clothes, warms, comforts and protects us and, through intimate contact, bears the marks and stains of our bodies. The names, manufacture and uses of different cloths reflect long and ongoing stories of cultural appropriation and exchange, colonial invasion, and enslaved labour across the globe. The history of cloth is the history of agriculture, science, colonialism and industrialisation. Myths and stories are woven and embroidered into cloth, too, as in the myth of Procne and Philomena, or the making of the Bayeux Tapestry. Cloth is made through spinning and weaving threads, and these practices shape our language, through idiom, proverb and storytelling. We speak of the social fabric, of spinning a yarn, of tying up loose threads, and of embroidering or unravelling the truth. In myth and fairy-tale, spinning, weaving and unravelling are symbolic practices: from Homer’s Penelope, to the Grimms’ Rumpelstiltskin, William Shakespeare’s Nick Bottom, and Alfred Lord Tennyson’s the Lady of Shallot. In this lecture, I will think through the making and history of cloth. I will use spinning, weaving, embroidering, and unravelling as critical and creative practices and reflect on my own work as a writer and textile artist to explore how we make and use cloth, and how it shapes our lives. The lecture is itself a cloth – a weaving together of warp and weft, of material and narrative threads.


16 October

Stephen Muecke – “Writing in Storied Country”

When you write on country in Australia you can go deep and you can go wide. The deep mythologies of Indigenous and settler Australians are articulated with real and imagined places. These mythologies are essential to feed the imagination, and they can be combined and shared. If you go wide, you set out on journeys of discovery, walking into territories that have to be rediscovered now that there is a greater consensus that country has to be cared for in order to regenerate its multiple forms of life.


23 October

Camille Roulière – “Listening to Water”

Water is everywhere. It defines the very colour of our planet; on average, it makes up 60% of the human body. Yet, experts are repeatedly warning us that the world is running out of water. In this lecture, I explore this paradox through sound in an attempt to shift the manners in which we perceive and relate to water. Travelling from me to (my) others, I articulate and play with the vulnerable interface between (wet) theories and the (dry) realities of the Murray Mouth’s acoustic textures. My words speak of the harsh dialectics of drought and desertification, and yet, water shapes them as they crisscross pages and landscapes—I write in waves, to paraphrase philosopher Édouard Glissant. Only through those movements can we learn how to listen to (or hear again) the wet ontologies hidden behind the colonial veil of blue-green algae blooms, salt and the staccato pounding of the dredgers working hard to keep the Murray Mouth open.


30 October

Rachael Mead – “Beyond Nature Poetry”

We are presently living through a newly defined era termed the Anthropocene, an epoch of immense change, which acknowledges the impact of human beings as being so pervasive and profound as to have shaped the Earth at a planetary scale. How are poets responding to the natural world in this era of the Anthropocene? We can no longer imagine nature as something able to be kept at arm’s length, as something to merely observe, inspect or admire. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the Romantic poets revolutionised the way in which people responded to the non-human world. So how should contemporary poets confront this new epoch in which humanity’s influence is all-pervasive? Nature is now more than blue ranges of mountains, vast skies or eagles circling on thermals. It’s also coral reefs bleached white as bone, tidelines clotted with plastic debris and melting glaciers releasing anthrax from ancient animal corpses. As poets and writers, the complexity of Anthropocene presents us with enormous challenges. Should we refine the elegy as a lament for the species, people and places that have and will be lost? Should we strive to develop new languages of grief and/or hope? Should Anthropocene nature poetry function as a form of eco-advocacy or a means of stimulating empathy for the more-than human world? Or should it be something else entirely?



Biographies of Speakers


Anna Goldsworthy

Described by The Australian as a “musical ambassador,” Anna Goldsworthy is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and versatile musicians. Celebrated as a pianist, she is acclaimed also as a memoirist, essayist, playwright, librettist, and festival director. As a piano soloist, she has performed extensively throughout Australia and internationally, and as a chamber musician she is a founding member of Seraphim Trio. Anna’s literary publications include the memoirs Piano Lessons and Welcome to Your New Life, as well as the Quarterly Essay’s article “Unfinished Business. Anna records for the ABC Classics label. She is currently a Lecturer in Ensemble at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, a Research Fellow at the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide, and the Kenneth Moore Memorial Music Scholar at Janet Clarke Hall.


Maggie Tonkin

Maggie Tonkin is a Senior Lecturer in the Arts Faculty at the University of Adelaide whose research interests range from twentieth century literature to dance and performance studies. She has published widely on contemporary women's writing and the British writer Angela Carter, including the monograph, Angela Carter and Decadence: Critical Fictions/Fictional Critiques (Palgrave, 2012). She is the author of FIFTY: Half a Century of Australian Dance Theatre, a history of Australia’s oldest contemporary dance company, which is based here in Adelaide (Wakefield, 2016). Her current dance research project centres on the choreographic practice of Meryl Tankard, one of Australia’s most significant choreographers.


Madeleine Seys

Dr Madeleine C. Seys is a scholar, writer, multi-disciplinary textile artist, textile conservator, and curator. She is employed as a Visiting Research Fellow and sessional lecturer in the Department of English and Creative Writing at The University of Adelaide. Working in cloth, threads and words, Madeleine’s practises involve interweaving, embroidering, unpicking and tailoring. Her work explores embodied histories, materiality, and ephemeral objects as repositories of identity and memory. Madeleine’s book Fashion and Narrative in Victorian Popular Literature: Double Threads was published by Routledge in 2018. Her research interests include: Victorian literature, fashion and material cultures; gender and sexuality; and queer and decolonising curatorial practices.


Stephen Muecke

Stephen Muecke is Professor of Creative Writing in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University, South Australia, and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He has been a visiting professor at the Freie Universität, Berlin and at Paris XIII. He is a writer specialising in cross-generic work; a recent publication is The Mother’s Day Protest and Other Fictocritical Essays (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2016). He also works on cultural theory, with a special edition of New Literary History (“Recomposing the Humanities—with Bruno Latour”), 2016. He has a long record of work with Indigenous people (a new edition of Paddy Roe’s Gularabulu: Stories from the West Kimberley appeared with UWA Publishing, 2016), and current research involves ethnographic documentation of Goolarabooloo county north of Broome, Western Australia, using a “multirealist” approach.


Camille Roulière

Dr Camille Roulière is an early career researcher whose work explores how people engage and interact with their environment through art. She was recently awarded a Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence and a University Doctoral Research Medal for her PhD thesis entitled “Visions of Water in Lower Murray Country” (University of Adelaide/ Université de Caen-Normandie). Camille also works creatively with a variety of materials, from words and musical notes, through to glass and acrylics. Her work has been published in Angles, Southerly, Cordite Scholarly and an anthology within Routledge’s Environmental Humanities series. She is currently working on two monographs based on her PhD research and is the recipient of the 2019 Bill Cowan Barr Smith Library Fellowship.


Rachael Mead

Rachael Mead is a poet, short story writer, arts reviewer and writing mentor living in South Australia. She’s had an eclectic life, working as an archaeologist, environmental campaigner and seller of books both old and new. She has an Honours degree in Classical Archaeology, a Masters in Environmental Studies, a PhD in Creative Writing and is an affiliate of the J. M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide. She is the author of four collections of poetry: The Flaw in the Pattern (UWA Publishing 2018), The Sixth Creek (Picaro Press 2013) and the chapbooks Sliding Down the Belly of the World (Wakefield Press 2012) and The Quiet Blue World (Garron Publishing 2015). Her work has also published in Best Australian Poems, Meanjin, Westerly, Cordite, Island, SoutherlyAustralian Poetry Journal and Magma Poetry UK.

Tagged in lecture, arts, Stephen Muecke, Anna Goldsworthy, Maggie Tonkin, Rachael Mead, Madeleine Seys, Camille Roulière