The trouble with stuff: two artist/educators share material epiphanies

Geraldine Burke, Shelley Hannigan

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The 'stuff' of art provokes and troubles us in each of our dual practices as artists and art educators. We consider the autoethnographic dimensions of the material and spatial in our artistic practices. The sourcing and meaning of materials, the creating of artifacts and installations and the exhibiting and storing of materials are central to our practices but the impact on our environment causes us to address material productivity and reduce waste by using sustainable materials, up-cycle and recycle.

We teach students historic and traditional techniques and processes such as painting and print-making, as these are part of art education. We teach these in applied, hands-on ways that engage materiality but also consider sustainable use of materials and techniques in more contemporary art. We navigate different spatial, time and material concerns in our artistic practices and our teaching work and emphasise materiality in lieu of sustainable and cultural development concerns in the world.

In this presentation we share individual and shared epiphanies (Ellis, Adams, Bochner, 2011) that stem from and are made possible through our shared professional conversations as enmeshed practitioners in art/education. We share generative images and thick description with the audience inviting them to also engage in the performance of a public conversation with materials and objects (as cultural artifacts). Drawing on Carolyn Ellis’s (1991) provocation, our presentations will perform layered accounts using vignettes, reflexivity, multiple voices, and introspection to reveal our embodied, personal approaches to artistic practices and the teaching of art along with a major focus on material considerations and effects.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
EventCritical Autoethnography 2016: Animacies, Affects, and Objects of Critical Autoethnography - State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 21 Jun 201622 Jun 2016
Conference number: 2nd


ConferenceCritical Autoethnography 2016


  • waste
  • stuff
  • arts-based
  • autoethnography
  • materiality

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