A conference for imagining the artists' colony as an alternate model for writing art history




Models for writing art history range between globalised studies, national, regional or local histories, and the enduring individual monograph. None of these fully accommodate the artists' colony. Colonies historically attract artists from elsewhere, of differing nationalities, brought together in a single geo-spatial frame, they may cohere owing to the appeal of a particular ‘master’, or location renowned for natural beauty, they may arise from the invitation of a wealthy patron, or established on a lineage within creative villages.

This 3-day conference gathers over 30 papers from academics working in Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, the UK and USA. The Keynote lecture will be presented by Dr Nina Lübbren (Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge), whose paper considers how artist colonies based on place, space, and mobility provide a new perspective for analysing world art histories.

Dr Nina Lübbren's keynote, "Rural artists' colonies and the geographies of art history" is supported by the Macgeorge Bequest.

Conference program

Please note, all times given in AEST (Australia Eastern Standard Time). The conference will be presented both in-person at the University of Melbourne, and online via Zoom webinar.

  • 28 November 2022

    Day One | Monday, 28 November 2022

    09:30 – 10:00

    Ian McLean, Welcome and Acknowledgment of Country

    10:00 – 11:30 | Session 1

    Chair: Rex Butler

    Emily C. BurnsUniversity of OklahomaWhose Grainstacks? The Mobile Transnational Colony at Giverny, 1890-1900
    Catherine SpeckUniversity of AdelaideThe turn-of-the century French artists’ colony as a vector for rewriting art history
    Jasmin GrandeHeinrich-Heine-Universität DüsseldorfThe Kalltalgemeinschaft, Germany

    11:30 – 1:00 | Session 2

    Chair: Jane Eckett

    Rex Butler & Andrew DonaldsonMonash University, Melbourne, & the National Art School, SydneyAustralian artists in the colonies, or, The artist colony as a model for art history
    Mary KislerAuckland Art Gallery Toi o TāmakiBrief Encounters — The Peripatetic Life of Artist Frances Hodgkins
    Rebecca EdwardsNational Gallery of Australia, CanberraFrom Moly-Sabata to the maître: Anne Dangar, Albert Gleizes and an artist colony

    2:00 – 3:30 | Session 3

    Chair: Victoria Perin

    Jane ClarkMONA, Hobart‘Charterisville’ in the 1890s: camps, colonies, schools and Schools
    Harriet Parsons & Matt CollerCurrency House & Temporal Earth, MelbourneReconstructing the creative community who documented Captain Cook’s Endeavour voyage
    Miguel Angel GaeteUniversity of YorkCarl Alexander Simon and the German Colony in Southern Chile

    3:30 – 5:00 | Session 4

    Chair: Ian McLean

    Frances FowleUniversity of Edinburgh and the National Galleries of ScotlandJames Guthrie and the Glasgow Boys at Cockburnspath
    Ellen OredssonThe National Archives (UK)Beyond Brøndums: The social organisation of the Skagen artists’ colony
    Jan D. CoxUniversity of Oxford ContEdThe Gaihede Family at Skagen – A Case Study
  • Macgeorge Visiting Speaker

    Macgeorge Visiting Speaker | Monday, 28 November 2022

    5:30 – 6:30 | Keynote supported by the Macgeorge Bequest

    Introduction: Rex Butler

    Nina LübbrenAnglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UKRural artists’ colonies and the geographies of art history
  • 29 November 2022

    Day Two | Tuesday, 29 November 2022

    10:00 – 11:30 | Session 5

    Chair: Ian McLean

    Terry SmithUniversity of PittsburghColonies of Colonials Inside the Centres? New York 1960s and 1970s
    Gloria SuttonNortheastern University, Boston & MITGate Hill Coop and the Afterlives of Black Mountain College
    Iñaki Estella NoriegaUniversidad Complutense, MadridMaciunas, Fluxus Tourism and the Impossible Artist

    11:30 – 1:00 | Session 6

    Chair: Simon Pierse

    Anna DempseyUniversity of Massachusetts DartmouthThe Provincetown Art Colony:  A Queer “Idyllic” Place and the Provincetown Printers
    David L. WittSeton Legacy Project, Santa Fe, New MexicoA story of the improbable: the Taos artists’ colony
    Carl SchmitzIndependentAmerican Artists’ Colonies in the Era of Abstract Expressionism: Mapping an Archipelago of Modernism

    2:00 – 3:30 | Session 7

    Chair: Jane Eckett

    Mengfei PanKokugakuin University, TokyoThe Birth of “Mura” (Villages) of Artists in Modern Japan: Towards a Socio-Geographic Theorizing of Art
    Shatavisha MustafiUPES, DehradunA Comparative Approach to Studio Produced Crafts: Exploring the Cholamandal and Andretta Artists’ Villages in India
    Adrian Tan Peng ChaiNanyang Technological University, SingaporeThe Artists Village: An ‘Experimental Colony’ that ‘Performed’ the Museum

    3:30 – 5:00 | Session 8

    Chair: Rex Butler

    Roger BenjaminUniversity of SydneyTangier as artists’ colony?
    Darren JorgensenUniversity of Western Australia, PerthDiaspora, Exile and the Artist Colonists of the Great Sandy Desert
    Pfunzo SidogiTshwane University of Technology, PretoriaBlack artists’ colonies in South Africa pre-1994
  • 30 November 2022

    Day Three, 30 November 2022

    10:00 – 11:30 | Session 9

    Chair: Victoria Perin

    Wylie SchwartzState University of New York, CortlandRadical Subjectivity in the Scandinavian Situationist Bauhaus
    Kiko del RosarioUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoLa talleridad: Splintering Philippine and Mexican muralismo
    Rachel WeinbergUniversity of MelbourneReconsidering the end of modernism: 1965–74

    11:30 – 1:00 |Session 10

    Chair: Jane Eckett

    Gillian ForwoodIndependentDarebin Bridge House as a model for an artists’ colony
    Andrew MontanaAustralian National University, CanberraMerioola and its artists, Sydney, 1945–1949
    Debbie RobinsonUniversity of MelbourneClifton Pugh at Dunmoochin: An Expression of Embedded Nativism

    2:00 – 3:30 | Session 11

    Chair: Simon Pierse

    Sheridan PalmerUniversity of MelbourneThe Abbey Art Centre, postwar utopianism and postnational modernism
    Maria C. Tornatore-LoongUniversity of SydneyThe ‘Australia Felix’ at Chez Haefliger: The ‘Unwritten’ Chapter of the Australian Expatriate Artist Colony in Majorca, Spain, 1958–1966
    Angela ConnorMonash Gallery of Art, MelbourneRobert Owen, the dynamics of Hydra Greece and artistic collaboration between 1963–1966

    3:30 – 5:00 | Session 12

    Chair: Rex Butler

    Jean-Claude LesageIndependentAustralian and American painters at Pas-de-Calais: the colony of Étaples

    Closing Panel discussion

    Roger BenjaminUniversity of Sydney
    Jane ClarkMONA, Hobart
    Rebecca EdwardsNational Gallery of Australia, Canberra
    Carl SchmitzIndependent
    Pfunzo SidogiTshwane University of Technology, Pretoria
    Cathy SpeckUniversity of Adelaide



The conference will be presented both in-person and online via Zoom webinar. The location for the in-person event is the Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room, Level 1, Room 106, Sidney Myer Asia Centre : Building 158, on the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus.

Travel Options

  • Getting into the city from the airport


    From Melbourne Airport, take SkyBus to the Melbourne city terminal situated at Southern Cross Station (in Spencer Street). This normally costs approximately $18.00 each way, and does not need to be booked in advance. For information about the public transport services which run to and from Melbourne Airport, including SkyBus and bus routes 478, 479, 500 and 901, please see the Public Transport Victoria Airport buses web page.


    A taxi from the airport will take around 40 minutes and will cost approximately $50.00. Taxi ranks are located on the ground floor outside Terminals 1 and between Terminals 2 and 3.

  • Public transport to the University

    Please note: Please be aware there are road closures and major works in Grattan Street.

    The best way to get to the University is by public transport. Trams run along Royal Parade and Swanston Street.

    The University is located outside of the Tram Free Zone in the CBD. You will need a myki card when travelling on public transport in Melbourne. You can buy and top up a myki:

    1. At all 7-Eleven stores, plus other retailers displaying the myki sign
    2. At myki machines (full fare only) at all metropolitan train stations
    3. Online
    4. By calling 1800 800 007 (6am - midnight daily, all night Friday and Saturday)
    5. At Melbourne Airport, myki machines have been installed in Terminals 2, 3 and 4; concession myki cards can be purchased from the SkyBus Terminal.

    Public Transport Victoria (PTV) has useful resources; a Journey Planner and Tram Tracker.

    How to travel to Melbourne University Parkville campus

    Bicycle routes

    The University has plenty of bicycle parking across the campus. For more information please see the Sustainable Campus Cycling/Walking web page.

    Bicycles can be hired through the Melbourne Bike Share system at the University and at several locations around the city. Helmets are required by law, and can be purchased for $5 from 7-Eleven stores, vending machines and the Nona Lee Sports Centre (Building 103), Tin Alley at the University. Helmet locations are listed on the FAQs for Bike Rental Options in Melbourne web page.

    Car Parking

    On-street parking is very limited. There are multi-storey car parks within walking distance of the University. For more information please see the University's Parking on campus web page.


    There is a taxi rank outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Grattan Street. Major Melbourne taxi companies include:

    • 13 Cabs - 13 2227
    • Arrow - 13 2211
    • Black Cabs Combined - 13 2227
    • Yellow Cabs - 13 1924
    • Maxi Taxi - 13 6294
    • Wheelchair accessible taxis - 9277 3877


For further information please contact the conference conveners:

Jane Eckett, Sheridan Palmer, and Victoria Perin.

About the Australian Research Council Discovery Project:

The Abbey Art Centre: Reassessing postwar Australian art, 1946–1956

This conference stems from a 2020–2023 Australian Research Council Discovery Project examining the post-World War Two activity at the Abbey Art Centre, in New Barnet, England.

The project is a collaborative venture between the University of Melbourne; Monash University; The National Art School, Sydney; and Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK. It is funded by the Australian Research Council, 2020–2023 (DP 200102794).

In fully documenting Australian artists who worked at the Abbey Arts Centre, London, 1946–56, and the British and European avant-garde in which they mixed, the project throws light on a historically neglected art colony and recasts conventional understandings of post-WW2 Australian artists’ role in the European postwar period. At a time when this period is being extensively revised within a postcolonial frame, this is a timely contribution to current art historiography that adds significance to Australian art within global institutional contexts.

One outcome, currently being developed, is The Abbey Art Centre Digital Repository, which documents artworks made at the Abbey, 1946–56, or shortly before or after an artist's residency there, as well as archival photographs, letters, catalogues, and items of ephemera. Some items in the digital repository are currently open access. For further information or to request full access, please contact Jane Eckett.

A black and white photo of two men sitting in an art studio drinking from mugs and talking
Peter Graham and Douglas Green, Abbey Art Centre (c. 1947-49). Photo: unknown photographer, private collection, courtesy the artists' estates.

Our research team

Lead Chief Investigator:
Professor Ian McLean
Hugh Ramsay Chair of Australian Art History
School of Culture & Communication
University of Melbourne

Chief Investigator:
Professor Rex Butler
Professor of Art History & Theory
Monash University, Melbourne

Partner Investigator:
Dr A.D.S. Donaldson
National Art School, Sydney

International Partner Investigator:
Dr Simon Pierse
Emeritus Senior Lecturer
School of Art
Aberystwyth University

Senior Research Associate:
Dr Sheridan Palmer
School of Culture & Communication
University of Melbourne

Postdoctoral Research Associate:
Dr Jane Eckett
Melbourne Research Fellow
School of Culture & Communication
University of Melbourne