Research activity per year

Personal profile


Helen Hughes is an art historian, art critic, editor, independent publisher, and curator. Her research focuses on Australian art history and art criticism. She is currently writing a book on Australian convict art of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This research project has been supported by the Getty/American Council of Learned Societies through a 2019/20 Postdoctoral Fellowship in Art History, and more recently by a Mid-career Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (2023/24). Helen has also written extensively about postmodern and contemporary Australian art. Edited publications include: Tom Nicholson: Lines towards Another (2019), with Amelia Barikin; Kiffy Rubbo: Curating the 1970s (2016), with Janine Burke; Double Displacement: Rex Butler on Queensland Art (2018), with Francis Plagne; and Impresario: Paul Taylor (2014), with Nicholas Croggon.

Helen teaches contemporary art theory and research methods at honours and postgraduate levels. With Terri Bird, Tara McDowell, and Lauren Burrow, she co-founded the Climate Aware Creative Practice national network of art school educators, and is interested in how environmental humanities intersects with the discipline of art history. 

Helen co-founded the contemporary art journal Discipline in 2011. She is also a founding editorial board member of Index Journal, Findings Journal, and Memo Review. She has written for journals such as ANZJA, CACSA Broadsheet, Art & Australia, EMAJIndex, Eyeline, Artlink, Discipline, and frieze. She is also the Melbourne critic for Artforum.

Helen has worked as Curator of Research at Monash University Museum of Art, where she worked on exhibitions and publications including Mutlu Cerkez: 1988-2065 (with Charlotte Day and Hannah Mathews, 2018), and as Curator at Gertrude Contemporary, where she curated the exhibitions Marrnyula Mununggurr: Ganybu and David Egan: Actually Energy Help Light in 2015, and, co-curated with Spiros Panigirakis and in collaboration with community radio station 3CR, If People Powered Radio: 40 Years of 3CR in 2016.  Helen also co-curated the 2016 TarraWarra Biennial: Endless Circulation with both Discipline and TarraWarra Museum director, Victoria Lynn. She has recently curated exhibitions at NAP Contemporary, Mildura and Mejia Gallery, Melbourne.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Art History, PhD, Mike Nelson's Hybrid Scripts, University of Melbourne

Award Date: 15 Dec 2015

Art History, Bachelor of Arts (Hons), University of Melbourne

Award Date: 22 Aug 2009

Research area keywords

  • Australian art
  • art of empire
  • convict art
  • art historiography
  • contemporary art
  • art criticism
  • contemporary curatorial practice

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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