Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Arts)


School of the Arts, English and Media


This practice-based PhD comprises four research projects that employ socially engaged art practice to investigate environmental situations on local, national and international scales. I work immersively in communities, both outside and within the academy, to engage with the complexities of human interactions with land and water. Working in regional and rural areas in Australia and the Pacific, I use collaborative, participatory processes to engage with environmental issues within communities. From agricultural practices to fisheries management, from care for local creeks to care for the Great Barrier Reef, I collaborate with a broad range of people and groups to contribute to environmental discourse and practice.

The PhD research thesis involves two intersecting components. Firstly, I am a participating artist in the generation and enactment of the projects. Secondly, as a critical researcher, I document the mechanics as well as the successes and limitations of the projects in the exegesis. As a participating artist, I use a ‘suite’ of methods, both practical and poetic, to engage communities. This approach allows multiple projects to coexist and at times overlap. Using a range of platforms—site-specific public events, journal essays, blogs, video documentaries, exhibitions, conferences and the exegesis itself—the projects contribute to the discourse surrounding socially engaged art and the environment.

Through the exegesis and the portfolio I show how using this ‘suite’ of methods and communicative platforms across multiple sites allowed a unique methodology of socially engaged art to emerge. In doing so I document and reflect on how the methods of collaboration and socially engaged art activate new environmental dialogues, and new ecologies for art.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.