News from the Grimwade Centre

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Publish date: 
13 Sep 2018

Warmun sunset, 2017, photo by Zora Sanders

Warmun Partnership

Ngarranggarni On Country Teaching

The Grimwade Centre conducted its Ngarranggarni: Gija Art and Country subject at Warmun Community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in June, coinciding with the Warmun Art Centre’s twenty-year anniversary. This is the fourth consecutive year of the two-way learning partnership, established between Warmun Art Centre and the University of Melbourne in 2015.

Eleven Grimwade Centre masters students attended the program, along with Friends of Warmun, representatives from Faculty of Arts Engagement and subject coordinators Gabriel Nodea, Robyn Sloggett and Marcelle Scott.

The cohort was welcomed on country at the Warmun Art Centre where they were introduced to Gija Elders and the Warrananj Ngarranngarni (story of Warmun), followed by structured discussions on the community collection (Nawan Gallery), the media centre and painting workshop.

A significant aspect of the Ngarranggarni on-country teaching program is the practice of storytelling, consistent with traditional ways of teaching, learning and conserving Gija law. It requires students to learn Gija knowledge through its relationship to the land and practices such as manthe (welcome), joonba (ceremony), skin names (law) and painting (story).

This year’s program was led by Shirley Purdie. Shirley is a respected Gija elder, senior artist and traditional owner of country south of Warmun. Accordingly, the cohort travelled to significant places on Shirley’s ancestral country now taken in by Violet Valley, Norton Bore and Mabel Downs cattle stations. Shirley related her extensive body of knowledge associated with many sites, plants and food in this region and provided accounts of early contact and colonial history, since the incursion of pastoralists in the late 1800s.

Miegunyah Indigenous Fellowships

Mark Nodea and Ralph Juli from Warmun visited the University of Melbourne in April/May as recipients of the first Miegunyah Indigenous Fellowships. They also visited Rakkaun SA for the first reading of the new play MeWei 3027 about the friendship between the German refugee ethnographer Leonhard Adam and Ngarrindjeri man and prisoner of war, Roland Carter.

Warmun Art Centre Twentieth Anniversary Symposium

This year the Warmun Art Centre is celebrating its twentieth anniversary and to mark the occasion several elders from the community will visit the Grimwade Centre for a Symposium later this year.


ACMI, together with the Grimwade Centre and the RMIT School of design, presented the Preserving the Near Future Symposium in July. Grimwade Centre staff Robyn Sloggett and Robert Lane joined in discussion with Wukun Wanambi and Ishmael Marika from The Mulka Project, Yirrkala, to explore how effective digital preservation operate when all the stages of construction and distribution are managed within one creative continuum.

In June, the Grimwade Centre hosted the symposium From Melancholy to Euphoria: The Materialisation of Emotion in Middle Eastern Manuscripts. Highlights included the presentations by visiting keynote speakers were Dr Mandana Barkeshli (Islamic University Malaysia), Prof Amir Zekrgoo (International Islamic University Malaysia) and Dr Stefano Carboni (Director, Art Gallery of Western Australia). Dr Carboni’s public lecture, From Melancholy to Euphoria and More: Visual Representation of Emotions in Persian Illustrated Manuscripts, was very well attended. This symposium was made possible by support from the ARC Centre for the History of Emotions and the Crescent Foundation.

Public Lectures

Robyn Sloggett’s lecture, Things Fall Apart: Putting the World Back Together One Document at a Time, was presented in March as part of the 2018 Faculty of Arts Dean’s Lecture Series: Celebrating the Impact of Giving.

Preshil Classroom Restoration

Grimwade Miegunyah Fellow Gina Levenspiel, together with Preshil the Margaret Lyttle Memorial School, completed the restoration of the 5s classroom in July. This small wood and steel engineered structure, originally designed by Kevin Borland and Bill Irwin in 1963, is the first valuable work of modern architecture to be rebuilt in Australia. Key members of the heritage and architectural profession attended the event with opening addresses by Marilyn Smith, Gina Levenspiel, Michael Markham and Bruce Dickey, the builder of the restoration.

PhD Researchers

Grimwade Centre PhD candidates Eliza O'Donnell, Ainslee Meredith and Julianne Bell hosted a forum for doctoral students in material culture, attribution and art conservation at the Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences in Koln, Germany. This was a side event to the NACCA Symposium 2018: From different perspectives to common grounds in contemporary art conservation, <>. The forum explored the various roles, actions, challenges and obstacles that doctoral students navigate throughout our research in conservation, material culture and attribution studies. Their goal was to share ideas and experiences about the philosophies and methods used to connect and collaborate with artists, collectors, institutions, systems, participants, and objects. This forum was supported by a Universitas 21 Graduate Collaborative Award.

PhD Completions

Elaine Miles investigated the extension of laser speckle based imaging methods to new problems in cultural materials conservation. She showed that it was possible to image underdrawings, obtain in-situ information about canvas paintings and study the temporal behaviour of drying paint. Her research will inform new approaches to characterising cultural materials. Elaine was awarded her PhD in March. (Joint supervision with the School of Physics)

Mahmoud Youssif Mohammed’s thesis aims to understand the relationship between wood chemical composition and other anatomical, physical and mechanical characteristics and how it (the chemical composition) can impact them. Furthermore, this thesis explores the effect of other materials associated with wood in art objects on the chemical composition/characteristics of wood and also seeks to characterize changes and modification in archaeological wood chemical composition. The thesis aims to provide an overall scientific explanation of archaeological wood’s degradation mechanisms. Mahmoud’s PhD is currently under examination.

Sadra Zekrgoo studied black writing inks used in 15-18th Century Persian manuscripts.  He gathered, translated, classified, reconstructed and analysed recipes from Persian manuscripts using non-invasive methods. Photographic imaging methods enabled differentiation between inks, were applied to the University of Melbourne’s Middle-Eastern manuscript collection and are applicable to other manuscripts. Sadra’s PhD is currently under examination.

Visiting Scholars

In June the Grimwade Centre hosted physicist Dr Gea Parikesit, from the Faculty of Engineering at the Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. While at the Grimwade Centre, he studied moving objects like the Wayang Kulit and musical instruments like the rebab and gourd pipes, to consider how these objects are played and their implications for cultural materials conservation treatment. Dr Gea also presented a public lecture on 'From 3D Shadows in Wayang Kulit to Vibrato Effects in Bundengan: Traditional Art meets Modern Technologies'.

Dr Mandana Barkeshli visited the Grimwade Centre in June to July to work with the Grimwade Centre's Middle Eastern Manuscript Research Group, to explore the conjunction between materiality and the depiction of emotion in Persian texts held in the University of Melbourne's Middle Eastern Manuscript Collection.

Arzak Abdeltawab Mohamed PhD candidate at Fayoum University, Egypt, joins the Grimwade Centre as a visiting PhD scholar for a year, with support from an Egyptian government scholarship. Her research is focussed on an evaluation of the use of nanomaterials in deacidification and consolidation of archaeological papyri.