The University of Sydney
Welcome to our third alumni and friends newsletter for 2012.

These have been enormously busy months at the Power, and with so much on, we have decided to dedicate the beginning of our news section to an extended welcome. Visit the first item below to catch up on all the updates from the Power and beyond.


Professor Mark Ledbury | Director, Power Institute
September 2012
The Power has been incredibly busy of late, with several major events in Sydney - a barometer of the excitement that contemporary art presents here and beyond.
The Power has been incredibly busy of late, with several major events in Sydney - a barometer of the excitement that contemporary art presents here and beyond. The Biennale has been just one of these key events and once more the University of Sydney expertise was a feature of the Biennale symposium, with Dr Catriona Moore again using this wonderful platform to teach students about contemporary art and curating. The large audiences and the age range of visitors gives the lie to those who feel contemporary art is alienating or interesting only to a cultural elite; and our mission at Power is to constantly bring to mind not only the sheer excitement, beauty and interest of art, but also its cultural relevance and importance.

The Power Institute was also proud to be involved with the AAANZ conference, Together Apart, which was a tremendous success. The organisational and intellectual energy for the conference was provided by a dedicated team including Ann Stephen, Susan Best and Donna West Brett (who found time for this despite being in the final stages of her PhD!). We were proud to host the event at the University, and to help bring Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator of the ICA, Boston, out to Australia for one of the Keynotes.

The possibilities and political importance of art were also in the mind of our founding benefactor, John Power, nearly 80 years ago, as he prepared his solo exhibition in the strife-torn and increasingly polarized Paris of the 1930s. One of the highlights of this semester for us is the opening of the extraordinary reconstruction of that exhibition by Ann Stephen and A.D.S. Donaldson, opening 24 September. The symposium talks on 5 October with the curators as well as Sara Wilson and Terence Maloon will bring the period to life and the contribution of Power into sharp focus.

This however, is not the only symposium we are presenting this spring. In partnership with the University of Melbourne and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, we have been working hard to develop a unique, collaborative symposium The Legacies of Bernard Smith to celebrate the founding father of Australian Art History - Bernard Smith. The Melbourne leg will have been completed by the time you read this, but there is still time to register for the Sydney section, full details of which are now available on the Power website

The Power is also delighted to announce the winners of our Cité residencies for 2013. This reminds us that Power exists not only to celebrate great moments of the past and bring great ideas to Sydney, but also to sponsor and encourage great work by the next generation of artists, writers and students. The names of our winners are announced in our news section below. We congratulate all of them and look forward to the creative outcomes their precious Parisian opportunity will afford.
We also thank most sincerely all those alumni and friends who contributed so generously to our Tax Appeal, which has successfully raised enough to cover the full costs of sending our University of Sydney student winner to Paris in 2013. We were founded by an extraordinary act of generosity and such continuing acts of generosity will inspire the next fifty years of great ideas in art. We include in this newsletter therefore, a link to a new on-line giving facility. I encourage all those of you who share our passion and commitment to the visual arts to support us as you see fit.

There is however, a world outside Paris (!) and we've been connecting with that world in our ongoing planning of an exciting collaborative venture with multiple partners from South-East Asia. It was a great privilege therefore, to host some of these partners for a recent two-day discussion on potential projects. We will keep you informed as this innovative cross cultural initiative continues to develop and the resulting events and outcomes begin to take shape.

As you can see, the Power is committed to a truly global idea of art making and art writing, and since we last wrote this has been evident in our array of events and speakers: Sven Spieker, whose work focuses on Eastern European avant-gardes; Pi Li, curator of the exciting new venture, M+ Hong Kong; Pat Symons talking on Crivelli; and Stephanie Dickey on Rembrandt. The Power is proud to continue its tradition of presenting fine minds from the fine arts while exploring topics of enduring fascination and continuing relevance. We look forward to seeing you at our next major highlight on 18 October - a Power Institute lecture by Professor Elizabeth Grosz, one of the great feminist minds of her generation, on Francis Bacon and Gilles Deleuze.


Professor Mark Ledbury | Director, Power Institute

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Online giving
For those of you who share the Power Institute's passion and commitment to the visual arts, donations can now be made securely directly from our website. We welcome your contributions here.
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Cité Residency winners announced
We're delighted to announce the winners of the Power Cité Internationale des Arts residencies for 2013. Read more
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Jennifer Milam awarded ARC Future Fellowship
The Power is very pleased to congratulate Associate Professor Jennifer Milam, for her recently awarded ARC Fellowship.
The Power is very pleased to congratulate Associate Professor Jennifer Milam, for her recently awarded ARC Fellowship. Jennifer was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship for her project "Visual Cosmopolitanism, National Identity and Imperialist Ambitions in Garden Spaces" ($716,000). Jennifer is the first art historian in the country to be awarded one of these prestigious fellowships, which enables full-time research over a period of four years (2013-2016). We wish Jennifer all the best on her project, and look forward to hearing from her further as research develops.
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Connecting Art Histories planning group, Sydney
In late August, the Power hosted our latest planning group with guests from across South East Asia.
In late August, the Power hosted our latest planning group with guests from across South East Asia. This two-day meeting saw discussions on a comprehensive and exciting collaborative partnership between the University of Sydney, museums and Universities across the region to explore the history of Modern Art in South East Asia. All partners will meet for a final planning session in Bandung, Indonesia, in November, after which we will submit our detailed collaboration proposal to the Getty Foundation.
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Exhibition & book: J.W. Power Abstraction-Création Paris 1934
A major exhibition J.W. Power Abstraction-Création Paris 1934 is set to open on the 24 September.
A major exhibition J.W. Power Abstraction-Création Paris 1934 is set to open on the 24 September. This is the culmination of many years of research, and a highlight of this Power Anniversary year. The Power Institute is proud to be the publishers of the accompanying catalogue, a landmark publication complete with new archival scholarship and a major essay by Gladys Fabre, the leading authority on the Abstraction-Création artists association, published for the first time in English.

The exhibition is open from the 24 September at the University Art Gallery. Further information can be found here.

The book will be available in select bookshops, galleries and museums shortly, as well as through the Power distributors NewSouthBooks online here and direct from the Power Publications office. More info will be available soon via Power Publications here.  

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 POWER TEAM    |  
Congratulations to Emma White, Power Publications Officer
The Power is delighted to announce the birth of Llewellyn Caspar Wood.
The Power is delighted to announce the birth of Llewellyn Caspar Wood, to Power Publications Officer Emma White and her partner Matt Wood. Llewellyn was born 25 August and both mother and baby are doing very well. Our best wishes and congratulations go out to the new family!
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Abstraction-Création and Power in 1930s Paris
Friday 5 October | 2.00-5.00pm 
Join the curators, Ann Stephen and A.D.S. Donaldson with guest speakers Terence Malloon and Sarah Wilson, for an in-depth exploration of the cultural context of 1930s Europe and John Power as a Parisian artist and thinker. Read more
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 TALK    |  
Bacon, Deluze and Imperceptible Forces by Professor Elizabeth Grosz
Thursday 18 October | 6.00pm 
In conjunction with the soon to be opened Francis Bacon exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, the Power is delighted to present a discussion on two great cultural figures by a preeminent feminist thinker - the brilliant scholar, Elizabeth Grosz. Read more 
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 TALK    |  
New Eyes, New Voices series: writer Luke Davis on the artwork of Anne Judell
Tuesday 30 October | 6.00pm 
The Power Institute with Sydney Ideas are proud to present a talk by writer Luke Davies, recent recipient of the prestigious NSW Premier’s award for Poetry. Read more
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The Legacies of Bernard Smith
Friday 9 – Saturday 10 November
Join a powerful line up of speakers from Australia and abroad for the Sydney leg of the two-city symposium, The Legacies of Bernard Smith
Bernard Smith could be said to have established Australian Art History. His work was seminal for histories of Pacific encounter and he also was also author to some of the country’s most eloquent memoirs. This Symposium brings together scholars from art history, anthropology, history and literature, as well as curators and writers, to discuss all aspects of Bernard Smith’s wide-ranging work and explore and assess its impact and legacy.

Full registration can be made at the Power website here.
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Meredith Morse – recent Art History PhD candidate
The Power recently caught up with Meredith, an art history PhD candidate whose thesis has just been examined.
The Power recently caught up with Meredith, an Art History PhD candidate whose thesis has just been examined. Meredith’s thesis focuses on US artist Simone Forti and the experimental art of downtown New York during the early 1960s. While pursuing her MA and PhD in art history in our department, both part-time, Meredith has worked in the finance industry. We asked her about her experience with the department and the Power Institute and what it is like to wear two hats, as an analyst at the ASX and then at the Reserve Bank, and as a scholar of modern and contemporary art.

What brought you to the Power Institute and the Art History department?

I first came to Australia from the USA on a Watson Fellowship in the late 1980s to study Aboriginal art. I ended up at Yuendumu, in the Northern Territory, working for six months as a stand-in for the arts coordinator, who had just been expelled from the community because he crashed the adult educator’s car!  So, I was at Yuendumu during a critically important period for central desert painting. It was a practice-based fellowship, and my time at Yuendumu galvanised my thinking as a painter. During the 1990s, I had several solo shows at Legge Gallery, Redfern, selling a painting to the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, and one to Artbank. I came to the Power Institute in the late 1990s, while working as an analyst at the ASX, because I wanted to continue in art history and to focus on modernism, postmodernism, and critical theory, and Power was the pre-eminent place for that. Professor Terry Smith was very encouraging, and I’d been impressed by Dr Laleen Jayamanne’s immense curiosity and lateral thinking in her cinema courses. Laleen ended up agreeing to supervise my PhD, fortunately for me.

What have you enjoyed about your studies at Power?

I started my PhD with cinema in mind. Laleen and Richard [Smith] encouraged interdisciplinary discussion and, more broadly, the use of tools with which to think in creative ways about movement, medium, and time. These approaches helped me to think about performance art. The department under Mark Ledbury has been very supportive. There’s been a wave of recent scholarship on that early 1960s moment in US art, on the cusp between modern and contemporary art, and it’s exciting to feel I’m contributing to it.

What do you do at the Reserve Bank, and how have you juggled this role with a PhD in art history?

In my job at the Reserve Bank, I write discussion papers on issues relevant to the banking industry, and analyse impacts of change to the central interbank payments system that may be occasioned by new services or industry practices.

I’ve managed both jobs in finance and postgraduate study for a long time, so it’s become habitual. Each has productively informed the other.  In fact, my critical thinking and writing skills – both important, highly transferable skills required of most professional roles – were developed in the course of my education in the humanities. Art history is responsible for my ability to understand the social and cultural meanings of all kinds of visual material, and to think in visual and spatial terms. Art history and visual studies are more relevant to workplace skills training than ever, and should be strongly supported.

How do your colleagues at work regard your art history studies? 
My colleagues at the Reserve Bank have been quite supportive. The Reserve Bank is an exemplary employer. They are very aware of the need for work/life balance, and I’ve had opportunities to do interesting work with talented people. And it’s useful to recall that the Reserve Bank has historically valued art as an important part of Australia’s cultural heritage. On my floor, I feel privileged to see Sidney Nolan and Clifton Pugh paintings every day at work.
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The Prime Minister's Christmas Card
Accompanying the recent Action. Painting. Now. symposium at the National Gallery was the Power publication The Prime Minister’s Christmas Card. 
Accompanying the recent Action. Painting. Now. symposium at the National Gallery was the Power publication The Prime Minister’s Christmas Card. Presented in association with the US Studies Centre, the two-day symposium explored the remarkable artistic impact still being felt today of Jackson Pollock, Morris Louis and their contemporaries. As part of the symposium, convenor and department member Professor Roger Benjamin noted that the purchase of Pollock’s Blue Poles by the Whitlam government in 1973 for $1.3 million, (regarded as one of Pollock’s most important paintings), is now acknowledged as an acquisition masterstroke.

The Prime Minister’s Christmas Card deftly traces through political history and cultural analysis, the events surrounding the notorious purchase of Blue Polls and the life of the ill-fated Whitlam Government. Offering a new and original perspective on Australian politics and culture in the Whitlam ear, the book provides a fascinating look into Australia’s social, cultural and economic history, and associated issues that remain just as relevant today as they did then. The Prime Minister’s Christmas Card is available through New South Books here or directly from Power Publications by contacting

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Friday 5 October | 2.00-5.00pm
SYMPOSIUM: Abstraction-Création and Power in 1930s Paris
Thursday 18 October | 6.00pm
TALK: Bacon, Deluze and Imperceptible Forces by Professor Elizabeth Grosz
Tuesday 30 October | 6.00pm
TALK: New Eyes, New Voices series: writer Luke Davis on the artwork of Anne Judell
Friday 9 – Saturday 10 November
SYMPOSIUM: The Legacies of Bernard Smith
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