Diversifying Australian Art

Writing the history of “outlier” art in Australia to paint a richer, more complex picture of Australia’s artistic culture.

book covers

Diversifying Australian Art challenges existing histories of Australian art, which have failed to adequately take account of outlier artists and their work. The term "outlier" refers to work by artists with experience of disability or mental illness, artists with a history of incarceration, artists from refugee and recent migrant backgrounds, and untrained artists who commenced artmaking following a significant life event. Artworks by these individuals have often been considered beyond the margins of mainstream or professional art practice. However, such works form an integral part of modern and contemporary Australian art.

Aims of the project

We aim to:

  • produce an understanding of outlier artists, their work, and the socio-historical context in which they make their art
  • develop an art history examining the connections between outlier and mainstream art practices, and the extent to which outlier artists’ work can and should be acknowledged within a mainstream art historical context
  • generate a deeper understanding of mainstream art in this country and paint a richer, more complex picture of the history of Australian artistic culture

Project details


ARC Discovery Project funding commencement: 2018 (active)

Research partners

RMIT University

Project team

Dr Anthony White
Dr Grace McQuilten
Professor Charles Green
Dr Anna Parlane


Dr Anthony White