Interdisciplinary Forum Publications - Ian Potter Museum of Art

Interdisciplinary Forum Publications

02 Jun 2021

We are pleased to launch publications documenting WATER and LANGUAGE – the first two outings of our successful interdisciplinary forum series begun in 2019.

Bringing together visual artists, performers and researchers from various disciplines, Potter’s interdisciplinary public forums propose art making as a form of knowledge creation, alongside other academic fields of inquiry. Each forum in this ongoing series seeks to address a pressing theme of our time from interdisciplinary perspectives, presenting these to a broad audience.

Brought together more than a year after the forums, several of the assembled texts in these new publications update research findings and reflections presented on the day, while others take a different form.

Printed publications are $8 each, or $5 with current University of Melbourne student ID, and are available for purchase at Buxton Contemporary at Southbank Campus. For postal orders, email

The publications can also be viewed digitally here:



In our first forum, the significance of water was explored in a range of areas, including climate change, river rights and sovereignty, customary song, water policy, the ocean as a border-crossing site and more. Experts in law, geography, chemical engineering, criminology and literature from the University of Melbourne joined visual artists, performers and curators for a robust program of talks, performance, conversation and song. Professor Alexis

Publication contributors: artist Hoda Afshar, Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow, Curatorial Manager International Art at QAGOMA, Brisbane; Dr Olivia Barr, senior lecturer at Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne; artist Maree Clarke; Samantha Comte, Senior Curator, Art Museums, Museums & Collections, University of Melbourne; Dr Claire Loughnan, lecturer in criminology in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne; Dr Celia McMichael, senior lecturer in the School of Geography, University of Melbourne; Dr Erin O’Donnell, water law and policy specialist; John Wayne Parsons, a Yugerra/Ugaram Le high-baritone opera singer and Schools and Community Liaison Officer at the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, Faculty of VCA & MCM, University of Melbourne; and Alexis Wright, author and Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the Australian Centre, in the School of Culture and Communication.

Our second forum engaged with the theme of language in the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages. Presentations from Arrernte cultural leaders and experts in Indigenous sign languages, computing and information systems, language and linguistics, bioscience and more were joined by artists’ commissions.

Publication contributors: artist and writer Fayen d’Evie; Richard Frankland, Associate Professor of Cross Disciplinary Practice in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, University of Melbourne; Dr Jennifer Green, postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne; John Hajek, Professor of Italian and Director of RUMACCC (Research Unit for Multilingualism and Cross-cultural Communication), University of Melbourne; dancer and choreographer Benjamin Hancock; Dr Jey Han Lau, Lecturer in Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne; Alison Lewis, Professor in the School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne; Amelia Kngwarraye Turner, cultural leader, prolific public speaker, angangkere (traditional healer) and artist; Shirley Kngwarraye Turner, Arrernte educator and poet; artist Sam Petersen; and Beth Sometimes, Pākehā artist, interpreter/translator and language worker from Aotearoa, based in Arrernte Country.

The WATER and LANGUAGE Interdisciplinary Public Forums were developed by Dr Kyla McFarlane, Senior Academic Programs Curator, Museums & Collections, in collaboration with Potter Academic Champions Committee member Dr Danny Butt, Associate Director (Research), Victorian College of the Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, and Dr Suzanne Fraser, Coordinator, Centre of Visual Art (CoVA), University of Melbourne. Presented in collaboration with CoVA, the forums were a key event in the Potter’s Inside Out program, aimed at shifting the audience experience by exploring the artistic opportunities that exist both inside and outside our galleries. This program was generously supported by Peter Jopling AM QC, Andy Zhang and Calvin Huang.