ACU launches arts industry research program in Ballarat

ACU is launching a new Graduate Industry Research Program at the Ballarat campus this month.

Five PhD candidates will undertake research projects to explore and develop Ballarat’s rich heritage and art history.

Each candidate’s research will be co-funded and co-designed with ACU’s local industry partners, including the City of Ballarat, the Art Gallery of Ballarat and Sovereign Hill.

The doctoral candidates will work closely with Ballarat-based historians Dr Benjamin Mountford and Dr David McGinniss. They will also receive mentoring from Ballarat Campus Dean, Professor Bridget Aitchison, and leading ACU academics from across the country.

In recent years ACU has made a substantial investment in the Arts, including the establishment of a new Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences and a new research centre for Gender and Women’s History.

Dean of ACU’s National School of Arts and Humanities, Professor Joy Damousi AM, said the program offered doctoral students a chance to undertake real-world research and make a positive contribution to Ballarat.

"The new industry PhD program reflects ACU's ongoing commitment to fostering links in the local community and promoting research and training in the arts and humanities,” she said.

"ACU is excited to partner with key regional stakeholders to give our doctoral students an opportunity to undertake industry-relevant research while earning their PhD."

Dr Mountford said the research would bring fresh perspectives to the history of Ballarat and regional Victoria.

“Ballarat is a city where arts and culture is fundamental to who we are and to our economy,” he said.

“Arts and culture are vital to the economy and to the wellbeing of communities across regional Victoria as well. 

“Each of the PhDs will focus on a particular aspect of Ballarat’s history and bring new research and understanding to the city and the wider region.”

The PhD candidates will be officially welcomed at a reception with ACU’s industry partners on Friday 28 April.

Alternative histories of the Goldfields

Ella Birt will document LGBTIQ+ histories of the West Goldfields region. This project asks if documenting and displaying LGBTIQ+ histories in regional areas can foster a sense of connection for younger LGBTIQ+ community members.

Sharni Brownbridge will explore the presence of women on the Ballarat goldfields and their involvement in the events leading up to and following the Eureka Stockade. It aims to investigate how national remembrances of these events are male-centric and how we can acknowledge women's contributions.

Kelly Gellatly is a curator, writer and arts advocate and the founding director of Agency Untitled. She will work with the collection of the Art Gallery of Ballarat to highlight the different perspectives and experiences of nation building conveyed by the work of contemporary women artists.

Ebony Gulliver is an artist, curator and arts educator. Working with the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ebony's research project will grapple with the interconnection between curated exhibitions and broader social and political histories.

Lachlan Peters will develop a work on fashion history throughout the gold rush era, including key links to the cultural expression of the diverse groups who lived and worked throughout this historical period. He will use fashion and dress as a lens to view the cultural exchange between First Nations peoples, colonial settlers, and other immigrants to the goldfields.

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