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News from the Menzies Centre

May 2018


 Gross 0218 Albert NamatjiraReview by Stephen Morgan

Australia, 1953.

As The Phantom Stockman unfolds across cinema screens, its typical (if still somewhat rare) brand of outback drama is punctuated by an utterly untypical cameo. Out painting en plein air, noted Aboriginal watercolourist Albert Namatjira – playing himself at the height of his fame – is approached by archetypal Australian post-war actor Chips Rafferty (the film’s star and producer), with whom he engages in a short conversation about a mysterious murder. This brief cameo, Namatjira’s only feature film appearance, is part of a concerted effort in this low-budget production to offer a unique backdrop to a fairly standard Western storyline, with Namatjira and Rafferty both deployed alongside the typical gratuitous shots of landscapes and kangaroos, in order to sell a particular vision of post-war Australia to audiences at home and abroad.

Australia, 1946.

Several years prior to directing Namatjira’s cameo in The Phantom Stockman, Lee Robinson – fresh out of the army – finds himself working for the fledgling Films Division of the Australian Government. Hoping to share the story of Namatjira, and his relationship with fellow painter Rex Battarbee, Robinson writes a treatment and is suddenly thrust into the role of film director.  The following year, Robinson’s documentary Namatjira The Painter plays as a popular supporting feature in hundreds of Australian cinemas.

Australia, 2017.

Drawing together years of footage shot whilst following the intercultural collaborations between Albert Namatjira’s descendants and Tasmania-based arts and social justice organisation Big hArt, director Sera Davies and her team of editors look back to the earlier films of Lee Robinson (and others) in order to give shape to Namatjira’s legacy in the twenty-first century.

Folded time, folded histories, and folded images all play a significant role in the Namatjira Project, a complex, layered documentary that relates the family’s struggle to regain the copyright to Albert’s work, and the various collaborations with Big hArt that help to bring that campaign to wider attention. Running parallel to a central narrative about Namatjira’s relationship with Battarbee and the subsequent, decades-long struggle over rights, is the creation and subsequent performance of the theatrical production, Namatjira, directed by Big hArt’s Scott Rankin and starring Pitjantjatjara actor Trevor Jamieson, alongside members of the Namatjira family. Thus, the journey undertaken by the stage production is also the journey undertaken by the family and the campaign, as they tour from Sydney to Ntaria (Hermannsburg), and across Australia.

The highlight, in some ways, comes with the chance to share their story at the heart of the colonial metropolis in 2013. In London, as Albert’s paintings take prominent place in the Royal Academy’s Australia exhibition, and Namatjira has its international premiere at the National Theatre, Albert’s grandchildren, Lenie and Kevin, gain an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. This particular encounter is cannily contrasted with the Queen’s own visit to the Aranda country of Central Australia in the 1960s, and the contrasting fortunes of the Queen and her former subjects is stark. Indeed, this is one of several moments in which the film folds histories together, subtly demonstrating the impact of the past upon the present, and the present upon the past.

In fact, one of the virtues of the Namatjira Project is the way that it interweaves several narrative strands to shape a subtle, but no less powerful critique of modern Australian society, and its various impacts on Namatjira himself, his extended community, and Aboriginal Australia more broadly. In some senses, this multi-strand narrative is merely a reflection of the multifaceted struggle to re-assert cultural authority.

Running through all of this is the Aranda concept of ‘nama’, or sitting side by side in learning and observation. Evident in the unique friendship between Battarbee and Namatjira, it is also central to how Big hArt, the film, and the broader project operates. ‘East coast’ creatives sit side by side with the extended Namatjira family in learning and observation, helping to bring about both the stage production and this documentary, and, ultimately, to bring about justice for the Namatjira family.

In highlighting Albert’s role in a changing nation, and in its subtle address of sovereignty lost but never ceded, the Namatjira Project is testament to the power of truly collaborative, intercultural work. Amid all the cosy collaboration, it doesn’t shy away from the various difficulties encountered by the family, nor from the broader systems of maltreatment that have long faced (and continue to face) Australia’s First Nations population. That it also serves as the culmination of a long campaign to regain the copyright is key, and the fact that the family were successful in doing so shortly after its premiere is testament to the strength of the campaign, and to the symbolic power of righting past wrongs.


Namatjira Project has its UK premiere at Bertha DocHouse, Curzon Bloomsbury on Friday 1 June, followed by a Q&A with Dr Diana Young (University of Queensland), in conversation with producer Sophia Marinos and Big hArt Creative Director and playwright Scott Rankin, who will join us on Skype from Australia. A repeat screening will take place on Saturday 2 June. Namatjira Project screens as a parallel event to the RAI conference Art, Materiality and Representation, in partnership with the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King’s College London.


Dr Stephen Morgan is an early career researcher based in the Film Studies department at King's College London and the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies. His current research considers layered histories and the cinematic treatment of settler colonial spaces, with a particular focus on interactions and negotiations between the British and Australian contexts.


April 2018


The Menzies Centre partners with Western Sydney University on Austrailian Cultural Fields Symposium


On Monday 16 April, the Menzies Centre was delighted to partner with Western Sydney University’s Institute for Culture and Society to showcase their ground-breaking research on Australian cultural tastes, Australian Cultural Fields: National and Transnational Dynamics. Speakers included Professor Tony Bennett, Dr Michelle Kelly, Professor David Rowe and Professor Deborah Stevenson (from Western Sydney University) and Dr Dave O’Brien (from the University of Edinburgh).

This symposium and roundtable marked nearly quarter of a century since the 1994 Australian national cultural policy Creative Nation, followed by the creative industries policy initiatives behind Cool Britannia in the UK. As Australia is negotiating its relationship to Asia, and the UK is considering a post-Brexit world, this was an excellent opportunity to address the changing cultural environments of both countries.

Why not take the cultural tastes quiz yourself:


Former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, launches Global Institute for Women's Leadership at King's College London


On April 4, The Policy Institute at King’s College London launched a Global Institute for Women’s Leadership as its most recent initiative alongside Julia Gillard as chair. Gillard was the only woman to have served as Prime Minister of Australia and has set out to work with The Policy Institute who will bring together rigorous research, practice and advocacy to better understand and address the causes of women’s underrepresentation in leadership positions across sectors and countries and the way gender negatively impacts the evaluation of women leaders. 

March 2018


The Hon Michael Kirby on LGBTIQ Rights in Australia and the Wider Region.


On Wednesday 21 March, The Menzies Centre welcomed The Hon Michael Kirby to discuss the rights of LGBTIQ in Australia and Asia. He delighted our guests with his passion, his wit and his service to human rights causes around the world. It was an honour to host him here at Kings College London.


Inspiring Women Reflect: Women in Media


On Monday 12 March, The Menzies Centre along with the Australia-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce , hosted our most recent Inspiring Womens Reflect series which addressed the relevent topic of women in the media industry. This event welcomed Lisa Millar and Jacqueline Magnay to discuss their experiences and share their insight which sparked an engaging conversation with our attendees.


From Australia to Britain! The Menzies Centre puts on its next Symposium at Kings College London 


Image credit: 'Better than Widescreen?', by Glenn Brown

Flickr Creative Commons Licence Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0

Monday, April 16th 2018, The Menzies Centre will welcome researchers and professors from Australian Universities to discuss Australian and British Cultural fields and how its affected by the relations between cultural institutions, policy agencies and cultural markets. 

For more information, please click here

To register,  please do so through our eventbrite link: 



A Closer Look into the life of Australian bushranger, William Douglas

Meg Foster, our 2017 Australian Bicentennial Scholarship recipient, traveled to the UK to trace the history and life of William Douglas, also known as 'Black Douglas' the most notorious bushranger on the Victorian goldfields in the 1850s. We were able to get her to talk more in detail about her research, her findings as well as her time in the UK. 

 Meg Headshot (002)

  1. Tell us a bit about the application process for the Australian Bicentennial Scholarship

Apart from the online application form where you fill out your personal details, you need to provide several extra pieces of documentation; evidence of being supported by a UK institution, a project statement, a two-page CV and two academic references. In their own way, each part of the application process helps you to hone your ideas and refine your research. The project statement allows you to go back to the foundations of your research, as you’re writing for a non-specialist audience about your project, its aims, (intended) outcomes and the significance of your research to your field. I found that writing this statement added clarity and depth to my research, as I explored my aims for the research trip, and also went back to the important ‘so what?’ of my project. When you’re so intimately acquainted with the minutia of your work, it’s nice to step back and re-explore why you started.


  1. Your research seemed extremely interesting, could you talk to us about what you found most exciting about it?

I’m extremely lucky that after almost four years of study, I still love what I do! What I find the most exciting is challenging popular myths, complicating colonial discourse and shining light onto how people in the past saw their own world. My project examines lesser known bushrangers (Australian highwaymen) who were ‘othered’ by colonial society because of their sex or race. No one has examined this area before, and this marks a large absence in the literature, because white, male bushrangers (such as Ned Kelly) are still regarded as national heroes. More than this, my research undermines the idea that ‘bushranging’ was a distinctly Australian phenomenon. William Douglas, the black bushranger who I studied in England, was born in Philadelphia, USA in 1817. He committed larceny in Rye, Sussex, and was sent to Australia as a convict. These types of details not only show the unique contours of Douglas’ life, but demonstrate that ‘bushranging’ was influenced by transnational stories, events and ideas. Critically interrogating pre-existing ideas and shining light on marginalised areas of the past is incredibly rewarding and exciting.


  1. Could you also talk a bit about how your interests in William Douglas developed?

I first encountered William Douglas as ‘Black Douglas’ the most notorious bushranger on the Victorian goldfields in the 1850s. There were gruesome tales of him stripping men naked and letting ants eat them alive, and cold-heartedly murdering a white woman (among other dastardly deeds). Settlers’ reminiscences of their time on the goldfields repeatedly recalled the ‘redoubtable Douglas’ and it appeared that he was a defining feature of the goldfields experience. However, when I examined the discourse surrounding Douglas, I discovered that he was never charged with any indictable offences and was only ever convicted for vagrancy or drunk and disorderly conduct. This probed me to push beyond colonial discourse to examine William Douglas as a man. In this way, I have not only gained insights about his life, but the intersections between his experiences and major trends in transnational and Australian history. My argument is that characters like Douglas reveal ruptures in the seemly solid terrain of global and national stories, and this fundamentally changes our understanding of these areas.


  1. You mentioned your findings changed the course of your thesis. In what way?

My research in England focussed on Douglas’ life in the UK before he was transported to NSW as a convict in 1835. Until I reached Britain and could access the National Archives, the Keep (East Sussex Records Office) and meet the local historian of Rye, my knowledge of this crucial time in Douglas’ life began and ended with the fact of his conviction. Research in the UK allowed me to access the specific details of William Douglas’ crimes, the history of black Britain at that time, as well as the local dynamics of justice. Although transportation was a common punishment for theft in the nineteenth century, it was unusual in Rye; Douglas was the second person to ever receive this sentence. Through tracing the micro histories of members of the jury as well as the history of Rye at that time, I was able to uncover the unique power dynamics of Douglas’ trial. I also gained information about the spatial geography of the town; the proximity of where each jury member lived to one another, the dimensions of the courtroom that Douglas was tried in and the gaol where he was kept before and immediately after his trial. In short, my research in the UK allowed me to write an entirely new chapter of my thesis; one that explored both macro trends and ideas in history, as well as the visceral evidence of experience that shaped Douglas’ days in England. This helped me to restore Douglas’ position as a man (as opposed to solely the bogey man of Australian colonial discourse) as well as explore the nature of crime and punishment, local justice, transportation and race in nineteenth century England.


  1. How was your experience living and exploring in the UK?

I had already visited the UK on exchange at the University of Exeter in 2012, but my time in Britain on this trip exceeded my greatest expectations. I made circuits of the UK, travelling between archives, the University of Leicester (where I was a visiting fellow and associated with the ERC funded ‘Carceral Archipelago Project’ with Professor Clare Anderson) as well as the Menzies Centre at King’s College and the University of Edinburgh, where I presented papers on my research. The academic community in the UK was extremely generous and supportive. So many people made me feel welcome and engaged directly with my work and research. It was truly an amazing experience.


February 2018


“The Purpose of Computing is Insight, Not Numbers”


Melissa Kozul, our 2016 Australian Bicentennial Scholarship recipient, traveled to the UK to to continue her research on The Turbulent Boundary Layer Under the Action of Free‐Stream Turbulence. We were able to get some insight on her research studies as well as her experience working in the research lab at University of Southhampton.

1. Tell us a bit about the application process for the Australian Bicentennial Scholarship

When I learnt of the Australian Bicentennial Scholarship scheme it sounded like a great opportunity to visit Prof. Bharathram Ganapathisubramani’s Fluid Mechanics Research group in the UK. I had met him previously at a conference where we had started discussing the current project. Having to reflect upon and then distill what research we wanted to do for the application helped me sharpen the focus of the work. I hoped to convey the project’s relevance to a general audience, how our research fits in with tackling broader technological challenges of the modern world. My supervisor in Melbourne encouraged me to take the application process very seriously, and being my first proper proposal based on a research project, I learnt a lot from it.

2. Could you talk to us about what you found most exciting in your research?

My research concerned a turbulent flow that has more or less only been studied experimentally in wind tunnels. In such experiments, researchers get a ‘snapshot’ of the flow where they actually measure it. Our simulations allowed us to ‘watch’ the entire flow interaction we were studying as it unfolded, which gave us a different viewpoint. We conducted non-physical ‘thought experiments’ that nonetheless allowed us to understand things about an important real flow that is in fact common in engineering contexts. It is this potential of simulations that I find particularly exciting. One of my favourite quotes is by mathematician Richard Hamming: “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers”.  

3. How was your experience working in Univ. of Southampton?

It was valuable in many different ways. One thing that stood out was meeting and talking with many different researchers, most of whom didn’t know what I had been working on, so it was good practice explaining and motivating my work to new people. I was able to draw on the knowledge and experience Prof. Ganapathisubramani and his colleagues had of this particular research problem, and this exchange improved the work greatly. I experienced first-hand the highly collaborative nature of modern science. 

4. How did it differ from or compare to your research experience in Melbourne 

The research group I worked within in Southampton is somewhat smaller than in Melbourne, which meant there was a different dynamic. There’s always something to learn from seeing how other groups work, both scientific and day-to-day. The members of Prof. Ganapathisubramani’s group are actually all experimentalists – they had worked on the same problem as I but in the lab – so that made me a kind of outlier! But I love the notion that the fluid mechanics problems that we study are attacked via multiple approaches, and that our discussions transcend the issue of whether we are working in a laboratory or running simulations, as we try to understand the underlying physics of the problem.

5. Congrats on your most recent position at the Norwegian University of Science of Technology. Could you tell us a bit about your plans for research here? And In what way will your most recent research study impact/contribute to your future research at NTNU, if at all?

Thank you! I am thrilled to be here. I plan to publish some of the work that was the subject of my study trip to the UK during my postdoc here at NTNU, so that is ongoing in that sense. More generally my most recent research for which I travelled to Southampton was definitely the most challenging part of my PhD, so having come out the other side, I feel more confident going forward to tackle new problems. A long-held dream of mine is to do some work with wind turbines, and there are opportunities to do so here in Norway. My thanks once again to the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies for the scholarship that allowed me to go on the study trip to Southampton. Being my first real experience as an international researcher, I feel it has put me in good stead for the beginning of my life as a postdoc. 




Is Sorry the Hardest Word? Kevin Rudd’s National Apology Ten Years On


National public apologies are strange and fraught affairs. They can very easily slip into excuses, self-justifications, demands for forgiveness, generational abdications of responsibility or attempts to "draw a line" under the past. However, they can also be the beginning of a difficult but genuine conversation about the relationship between past, present and future.

This month marks the ten-year anniversary of Kevin Rudd's National Apology to the Stolen Generations of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly removed from their families. Along with those affected by similar policies in countries like Canada, for instance, this is a time to acknowledge and reflect on the unimaginable and ongoing pain and suffering of countless generations.

This anniversary also gives us pause to reflect on the challenging gap between symbolic gestures and more concrete political-economic change. It is difficult to consider any real forward momentum without bridging such a gap, without an acknowledgement of unceded sovereignties, genuine political platforms and real prospects for economic development, housing, healthcare and safety.

Such a reflection also sheds light on related public debates, such as the variable legacies of the “Mabo” decision, and the debate about constitutional reform versus treaty negotiations, all of which share the same core tension. When and how does symbolism become part of real change and who is calling the shots? However, one lesson of the Rudd apology for the future, I would suggest, is that there can be no either/or choice between symbolism and material change, only the long-term and hard-fought negotiations in-between.

Dr Peter Kilroy, Menzies Centre for Australian Studies


The Hon. Julie Bishop MP visits Kings College London 

The Menzies Centre of Australian Studies and The Policy Institute welcomed the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs & Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, The Hon. Julie Bishop MP, to King’s College London. Bishop delivered a talk on her Australian Foreign Policy White Paper  and preserving the international rules based order to a full room of government officials, professionals and academics.

Bishop and PRinicipal2

Read the full story


Mark Lunney and The History of Australian Tort Law 1901-1945: England's Obedient Servant?

The Menzies Centre of Australian Studies and The Dickson Poon School of Law welcomed Mark Lunney to Kings College of London to discuss his new book: A History of Australian Tort Law. With an intimate audience, Lunney engaged in insightful and interesting conversations around Australian common law development and its need to be viewed in the context of the British race patriotism that characterised the intellectual and cultural milieu of Australian legal practitioners.


January 2018



The Politics of Australia Day

Professor Bridge was interviewed on BBC World Service Radio’s ‘Newshour’ programme on 25 January (Australia Day eve) on the contested meanings of Australia Day. For the Australian government and many Australians, it is simply the day commemorating the birth of modern Australia when the First Fleet arrived in New South Wales to establish a British colony. For Aboriginal Australians and their supporters, it is ‘Invasion Day’ or a ‘Day of Mourning’. Alternative 'national' days are not obvious. Anzac Day is about remembering the war dead. Australia’s real political birthday, Federation Day, 1 January (1901), is ruled out as its also New Year’s Day. Wattle Day would be nice, but it marks the blossoms coming out – 1 August in New South Wales and Queensland, 1 September elsewhere. If Australia ever does get a new constitution we should hope it is proclaimed on an auspicious day of the year when the sun is likely to shine and people can enjoy a politics-free holiday. 




'Edifice Complexes': Comparing Australia House & the new US London Embassy


Carl Bridge and Eileen Chanin recently posted an op-ed piece in History and Policy reading the 'open marketplace' diplomacy inherent in the design of Australia House (1918) alongside the closed diplomacy signaled by the high-tech 'fortress', complete with moat, just completed in Nine Elms.






Conference at the National Maritime Museum

Thursday to Saturday, 13-15 September 2018

To mark the opening of its new exploration wing in September 2018, the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, invites proposals for papers centred on the role and significance of memory in histories of exploration. Over the last few decades maritime exploration in its broadest sense has become one of the most exciting fields of study, with researchers from many 
different disciplinary backgrounds enriching, questioning and 
reinterpreting the subject for contemporary audiences.

Increasingly, indigenous voices are challenging long-held assumptions and introducing a greater complexity to histories of encounter, exchange and the legacies of exploration. At the same time contemporary artists and writers are re-imagining exploration for new audiences. This conference is intended to 
consider exploration from the equally vibrant perspective of memory studies. Presentations will focus on the history, poetics, and material and visual culture of exploration, exploring how these have changed over the years and what their legacies have been, and continue to be.

Suggested themes for the conference to explore include: interactions between historical accounts and cultural representations of exploration; remembering first encounters; exploration, public history and memorialization; exploration, art and culture; material culture and the collection of objects and their competing meanings; the poetics of exploration: literature, photography, film and drama; narrating 'difficult' 

Proposals of no more than one side of A4 and a brief biography should be 
sent to:

Lizelle de Jager, Research Executive, National Maritime Museum, London SE10 


telephone 0208 312 6716

Deadline for proposals: 28 February 20


Picnic at Hanging Rock

Barbican Theatre

21 - 24 February 

A contemporary spin to Joan Lindsay’s cult 1967 book, this production features five female narrators whose efforts at reconstructing the mystery are overtaken by primal forces. Amid looming hysteria, their story twists and distorts, guiding us from civilisation and order to somewhere hostile, vast and unknown.

For more information,  click here




Carl Bridge has just published an article on how the British spied on Billy Hughes during the Paris Peace Conference at Versailles in 1919. The new findings come from documents unearthed in the British archives as part of the on-going 'Australia in War and Peace, 1914-19' project being undertaken by the Menzies Centre and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

To read full article,  click here


December 2017

Poche Leadership Program

Applications now OPEN! 

The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at The University of Melbourne in partnership with King’s College London will offer an Indigenous Leadership Fellows Program, with modules in Melbourne and London in 2018.

The 2018 Poche Fellows Leadership Program is designed for Indigenous early career staff with a health focus in academic, policy, clinical or research roles in Higher Education institutions, government, health delivery and community sectors. The program brings together Fellows in a richly interconnected and interactive program, keeping a focus on the concepts of networks and collaboration.  The program consists of 3 modules, and works to build Fellows expertise in their areas of leadership.

For more information on this program,  click here

Menzies Centre & Ikon Present Symposium on Thomas Bock

This December, the Menzies Centre partnered with Ikon Gallery in delivering a remarkable symposium in and around the life and work of Thomas Bock. We were honoured to welcome and host our speakers from prestigious universities and institutions from around the world to share their knowledge and expertise.

The list of topics and speakers are listed below: 

Dr Malcolm Dick, University of Birmingham
Thomas Bock’s Birmingham: Industry and Culture in “the city of a thousand trades”

Professor Judith A. Allen, Indiana University Bloomington
Thomas Bock’s conviction: Men, and the rise and fall of the new capital crime of abortion, 1803-37

Dr David Meredith, University of Oxford
On the transportation system and Van Diemen’s Land

Professor Clare Anderson, University of Leicester
Convicts and Penal Colonies in 19th-Century Science and Collecting: A Global Perspective

Professor Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, University of Birmingham
Thomas Bock and Edmund Clark: Savagery and Redemption in Ikon's criminal portraiture, colonial and contemporary

Dr Ian Henderson, Menzies Centre King’s College London
Green Arcades Project: Art and Sociability in Nineteenth-Century Hobart Town

Jane Stewart, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
On Bock and the history of art in Tasmania

Dr Gaye Sculthorpe, British Museum
Thomas Bock and the mystery of Trukanini's necklace

Dr Julie Gough, Artist
The race of representation: What the works by Bock and his colonial contemporaries offer on the circumstances of Tasmanian Aboriginal people Bock Exhibits at Ikon

The Menzies Centre is excited to announce that on the 6 December 2017, Ikon Gallery Birmingham celebrated the opening of their Thomas Bock exhibition. A convict artist who was born and trained in Birmingham as an engraver and miniature painter, was sentenced to fourteen years in Australia where he produced astonishing bodies of work, some of which he has become quite well known for. Ikon has curated a remarkable exhibition comprised of original drawings, paintings and photographs that demonstrate Bock’s technical skill, but also his sensitivity to a wide range of subject matter. At the heart of the exhibition is Bock’s extraordinary series of portraits of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, now (previously) in the British Museum. These portraits are some of the most important in Australian art.

The subjects have a demeanour that convey both pride and despair, suggesting that Bock, being marginalised himself, closely identified with them and sought to convey the tragedies suffered by these indigenous people through the British settlement in Australia.

Ikon’s exhibition also includes a number of nude life drawings as well as daguerreotypes by Bock – tiny photographic images on silver plate, mounted and glazed in cases – depicting people he would otherwise have drawn or painted, and demonstrating his openness to new techniques.


October 2017

Penny Edmonds001 copy

Reese Lecture

This October, our annual prestigious Reese Lecture at the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies took place in honour of Dr Trevor Reese. This year's lecture explored the impact of The Uluru Statement delivered by the First Nations National Constitutional Convention to the Australian nation in May 2017. We were honoured to welcome Penny Edmonds, University of Tasmania.

 The Menzies Lecture 2017

In October we welcomed His Excellency The Hon Alexander Downer to King's College London to give the annual Menzies Lecture. Each year the Lecture is delivered by a distinguished person, of any nationality, to reflect on a subject of contemporary interest affecting Britain and Australia. 

With Brexit fast approaching we were able to hear from Australia's representative on the future of relations between the UK and Australia. As a centre and a College we will continue to engage with this vital topic. 


September 2017


VIDEO: David Unaipon Lecture 2017, Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney

Decolonizing Pacific Schools: Toward an Australian Culturally Responsive Pedagogy?




July 2017


Memory and the Modern City Lecture by Dr Simon Sleight

Dr Simon Sleight 1 LARGE

In July, Menzies Centre Deputy Director Dr Simon Sleight delivered a keynote lecture on 'Memory and the Modern City' in Barcelona. Hosted by IAFOR in partnership with the University of Barcelona, the City2017 event offered an interdisciplinary platform for scholars from around the world, and a lively forum for debate. Simon's lecture served as a prelude to a Routledge textbook chapter on the same theme, and explored the processes by which some aspects of the past are physically or emotionally inscribed into the built landscape, while others are overlooked or forgotten. Adopting a comparative and international view, the talk called in on cities including Hiroshima, Melbourne, Vancouver, New York, Cape Town and Delhi. 

Gas Markets and Energy Policy: Lessons from Australia 

The inaugural Menzies Conversations event, titled Gas Markets and Energy Policy: Lessons from Australia, was a great success. The panel was composed of experts from the oil and gas industry including Martin Ferguson (former Australian Minister for Resources and Energy), Kevin Gallagher (MD & CEO of Santos), Simon Flowers (Chairman & Chief Analyst Wood Mackenzie) and Paul Schreier (Hakluyt). Chaired by Martin Houston, Vice Chairman of Tellurian Inc., the panel insightfully discussed many facets of the sector. Challenging audience questions spurred thought-provoking discussion which continued at a networking reception at the Terrace Cafe. nt here


June 2017

Michael Cook AO

It is with great sadness that we report that Michael Cook AO, who chaired the Menzies Centre Board with great distinction from 1997 to 2011, died at his home in London on 18 June, aged 85. Michael's efforts were crucial in securing the generous endowment of the Centre by the Australian Government in 1999 without which it would not have survived. Michael Cook was one of Australia's finest diplomats and public servants. He served in Egypt, Thailand, Indonesia, at the United Nations, and as Deputy High Commissioner here in London, before becoming Ambassador to Vietnam, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, CEO of the Prime Minister's Office (1979-81), Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (1981-9), and Ambassador to the United States (1989-93).

Is Art the Canary in the Coalmine for Indigenous People? By Professor Marcia Langton

Marcia 02

Professor Marcia Langton, one of Australia's most prominent Indigenous scholars, led an honest and powerful exploration of the role of Indigenous art in contemporary Australia. The event, hosted in partnership with Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery gave the audience an insight into contemporary issues and ancient traditions.


Inspiring Women Reflect with Gail Kelly

gail kelly

On June 14, the Menzies Centre hosted former Westpac CEO Gail Kelly in conversation with the Hon Ros Kelly AO as part of the Inspiring Women Reflect series. Gail's honest and insightful reflections on backing yourself, accessing support and building a career while prioritising family and well-being were incredibly valuable. It was a rewarding evening which showcased the success of two professional women and spurred audience reflection and development.  

‘History of Screen Media’: the tenth 2016–17 Menzies Seminar

The final seminar in the 2016–17 ‘Screening Australia’ series was held last Wednesday. We welcomed Jorge López (Salamanca University) and Tony Moore (Monash University) to the Menzies Centre, who delivered papers on the theme ‘History of Screen Media’.

Jorge’s paper explored the world of Elizabeth Jolley and her ‘Made-for-TV Movies’. He focussed on two specific productions: The Nights Belong to the Novelist (ABC/BBC, 1986) and The Last Crop (Channel 4, 1990). As presented by Jorge, both films blurred genre and presented quirky narratives. Tony’s paper was equally well-received. He returned to the 1970s onwards and the dual themes of maverick filmmaking and guerrilla television, and their counter-cultural influences.


May 2017

Menzies Centre supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists at  Border Crossings' Origins Festival

Tuesday 16 May

Origins Festival, an annual celebration of indigenous cultures, is taking place between the 10th and the 25th of June. This year, the Menzies Centre is proud to partner with Border Crossings to host Australian ATSI artists. Attendees can see the energetic Torres Strait hip hop artist Mau Power at the  Origins Concert on June 15. He will also perform at the  launch of the book Australian Indigenous Hip Hop on June 16. The performance will be a super-charged end to a discussion of Australian Indigenous hip hop culture between author Chiara Minestrelli and the Menzies Centre's Peter Kilroy. On the 17th of June, visitors can view The Lost Wold a video installation by Australian Indigenous artist Julie Gough. The installation explores the absence of objects in the landscape as a means of connection to country and of representing subsumed histories. Julie will join a panel discussion on Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art and New Media at 3:30pm, alongside Christian Thompson and Professor Marcia Langton. 

Launch of the Programme of Joint Distinguished Fellows in Australian Studies by King's College and the University of Melbourne

Tuesday 16 May

On the 2nd of May, Professor Edward Byrne AC, President & Principal, King's College London and Professor Glyn Davis AC, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Melbourne hosted a reception to celebrate the collaboration between their two institutions. The University of Melbourne's Australian Centre and the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies proudly launched the Joint Distinguished Fellowship in Australian Studies. The fellowship is a unique platform for Australian scholars to share their expertise in England and to receive visiting experts from the UK. Fellows will focus on interdisciplinary research and public engagement. The Menzies Centre is looking forward to the visit of  inaugural fellow Dr Bronwyn King, a renowned cancer clinician who championed divestment in tobacco through her organisation Tobacco Free Portfolios. 

MOU with the University of South Australia is an opportunity to learn from the world's oldest continuous culture

Tuesday 16 May

The Menzies Centre is excited to announce that the University of South Australia (UniSA) and King's College London have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The partnership will create opportunities for knowledge sharing. The Menzies Centre will host up to three fellows from UniSA who specialise in Indigenous knowledges, the contribution of Australia's First Peoples, contemporary Australian identities and Australia in a global context. The Menzies Centre is pleased to give these researchers a platform to share their knowledge in Europe and to receive their insight with regard to Australian studies. The centre also looks forward to the annual David Unaipon Lecture, which will now be given in London in addition to South Australia. This exciting partnership represents another way in which cultures and research are being shared across the globe to advance Australian Studies.  


March 2017


Dr Simon Sleight gives talk in Bloomsbury at the Comparative Metropolitan History seminar

Monday 13 March


On 1 March, the Menzies Centre's Dr Simon Sleight gave a talk in Bloomsbury at the Comparative Metropolitan History seminar. The title for Simon's paper was 'Young people and the rhythms of the city: towards a transurban history of modern walks (1850-1914)' and brought into comparison London, Melbourne and New York. Simon's next public engagement will be on Tuesday 14 March, when he will be offering a lecture in support of the National Gallery's  Australia's Impressionists exhibition. Setting the long context for the show, the title of the talk is 'Inside Australia: Origins to Federation (in 60 Minutes)'. This is part of a  short course programme, and Simon is pleased to be donating his appearance fee to the History Student Hardship Fund at King's College London.

Menzies Centre's Dr Simon Sleight to present in Barcelona at City2017 Conference

Monday 13 March

This Could Be - BernThe Centre's Dr Simon Sleight is delighted to be delivering a keynote lecture in Barcelona this July at the City2017 conference. The title of Simon's talk will be 'Memory and the Modern City'. Here is an edited abstract:

Densely populated, cities are also thickly inhabited by memories. This lecture explores the processes by which some aspects of the past are physically or emotionally inscribed into the built landscape, while others are overlooked or forgotten. It seeks to determine who gets to influence acts of concerted remembering, considers the actions of those who contest or adapt 'official' versions of historical memory, and assesses the place of intangible cultural heritage and personal memory amidst ever-evolving city settings.

Full details are here:

Menzies Centre celebrates the centenary of Sir Sidney Nolan

Monday 13 March

Nolan in Britain 9On Friday 3 March the Menzies Centre proudly partnered with the Sidney Nolan Trust to host the Nolan in Britain symposium exploring the life and work of Sir Sidney Nolan. Chaired by Ikon Director Jonathan Watkins and Menzies Centre Director Ian Henderson, the symposium featured a keynote speech from Australian artist Shaun Gladwell. The audience also enjoyed panels with Nicholas Usherwood (curator, art critic and writer), Kate McMillan (artist & Teaching Fellow at King's College London) and Dr. Helen Idle.

Following the symposium the Menzies Centre hosted a reception at Australia House featuring a conversation between Dame Monica Mason and Deborah Bull about Nolan's Rite of Spring

In 2017, the Sidney Nolan Trust is presenting a nationwide programme exhibitions, events and publications to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Australian artist Sir Sidney Nolan OM AC RA. The year-long programme will include contributions from some of the UK's most prestigious cultural institutions, reflecting Nolan's standing as a leading figure of 20th century art. 


February 2017


King's launches Joint Distinguished Fellowship in Australian Studies with University of Melbourne

Monday 13 February 2017


King's College London and the University of Melbourne launched their Joint Distinguished Fellowship in Australian Studies in Sydney on Monday 13 February 2017 and announced the appointment of inaugural fellow Dr Bronwyn King.

Announced at Hon Julia Gillard AC's  'Future of the Commonwealth' lecture late last year, the Fellowship is facilitated by the Menzies Centre at King’s and the University of Melbourne’s Australian Centre. The Fellowships will target public figures and researchers predominantly in the fields of the arts, business, communications, government, law, history, media and public policy.

The recipients of the Fellowship will spend time at both Melbourne and London, and are expected to be active contributors to engagement activities and interdisciplinary research projects at both institutions.

President & Principal Professor Ed Byrne said of the new partnership,

"It is always a good time for King's to foster better links with Australia. With the uncertainty of international politics, universities are the glue of the rational world. We are able to trade in knowledge and enable the free movement of ideas, staff and students.

"I look forward to these Fellows strengthening our ties with the University of Melbourne, and Australia more broadly, truly embodying the Menzies Centre’s vision of promoting a deep understanding of contemporary Australia throughout Britain, Europe and beyond."

         Bronwyn King-

Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne Professor Glyn Davis announced inaugural Fellow Dr Bronwyn King, a radiation oncologist and the CEO of  Tobacco Free Portfolios. Bronwyn, an acknowledged world leader in the fight against big tobacco investment, is a graduate of the University’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.

“This Fellowship will be an opportunity to attract academic leaders and intellectuals from across the globe, to engage with researchers, students and the public in both Australia and the UK", said Professor Davis.

“The new Fellow will undoubtedly strengthen alumni links for both institutions, offering a unique platform for Australian expertise in London and vice versa. Dr King has experience dealing with businesses in both parts of the world, and will be an outstanding voice in explaining the power of this relationship.”

“Both Melbourne and King’s have a long and important history of research and cultural collaboration in Australian studies, and it makes sense for both institutions to lead the next wave of interest in intellectuals wishing to undertake Australian studies and forge new pathways of collaboration between the UK and Australia."

‘Film, History & Representation': the sixth 2016-2017 Menzies Seminar

Monday 20 February 2017

Seminar image

Felicity Barnes (University of Auckland) and Deirdre Gilfedder (Université Paris Dauphine) delivered papers at the sixth Menzies Seminar for the 2016–17 series Screening Australia on the topic of ‘Film, History & Representation’.

Felicity examined the little-known Australian film British to the Core from 1935, which was a roaring success when shown on film screens in Britain. It was intended to sell Australian produce to British consumers, and reveals much about imperial and national identities in the interwar period.

Deirdre took us back to last decade, and considered two films about British Monarchy: The Queen (2006) and The King’s Speech (2010).  She compared how the films were received in Britain and Australia via the themes of loyalism, monarchy, colonial rapport and media representation.


January 2017


‘Colony / Post-Colony ?': the fifth 2016-2017 Menzies Seminar

Wednesday 25 January 2017

160126_Pinto, Kilroy, Debenham

Jennifer Debenham (University of Newcastle) and Sarah Pinto (Deakin University) gave papers at the fifth Menzies Seminar for the 2016–17 series Screening Australia on the topic of ‘Colony / Post-Colony?’.

Jennifer examined the British atomic nuclear tests in Australia and their subsequent impacts for Indigenous people. While the government authorities suggested no people lived where the tests took place, William Grayden produced an explosive documentary film in 1957 which showed the extent to which the health of local Indigenous people in Western Australia had been impacted. Jennifer argued the political victories for Indigenous recognition from the 1960s must be tied back to Grayden’s remarkable film.

Sarah considered two recent television series that dramatised the early period of Australian colonial settlement: The Secret River (ABC TV, 2016), based on the eponymous novel by Kate Grenville, and Banished (BBC/Foxtel, 2016). Critics in Australia praised The Secret River, in contrast to Banished which was universally panned; particularly because the former had Indigenous characters unlike the latter. Despite this crucial difference, Sarah suggested that both shows ultimately advanced a similar conventional and problematic narrative of the heroic white convict male settler, failing to adequately represent Indigenous people and their experiences of colonial dispossession.

The  next Menzies Seminar, ‘Film, History & Representation’, takes place on 15 February 2017.

Menzies Centre and Australian Business partner for Inspiring Women Reflect

The Menzies Centre is pleased to welcome  Australian Business, Australia-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce, and  Telstra as partners for Inspiring Women Reflect and announce our first event for 2017. 

Menzies Centre Advisory Board Member Hon Ros Kelly AO created the  Inspiring Women Reflect series to celebrate and empower women to strive for leadership and success in the workplace. On  Thursday 23 March will moderate a discussion with Carolyn Taylor and Ann Sherry AO about leadership and corporate cultural change. 

Australian Business UK is the only organisation in the United Kingdom that brings together professionals and companies who have Australian interests and connections through business networking opportunities and events. With over 300 corporate and individual members, Australian Business helps strengthen business links between Australia and the UK, and further members’ interests, in the UK and beyond.

Telstra is a leading telecommunications and technology company and passionate advocate of women in business. The  Telstra Business Women's Awards, Australia's longest running women's award program, are linked to Telstra’s broader agenda of diversity and inclusion. 

Launch of Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World by Dr. Simon Sleight

Monday 16 January 2017

Simon Sleight book launch Dec 2016On 19 December, Dr. Simon Sleight's co-edited book, Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World was launched by Dr. Carla Pascoe at the University of Melbourne. The event featured a roundtable discussion with contributors to the book including Prof. Kate Darian-Smith, co-editor Dr. Shirleene Robinson (a former Menzies Centre visiting Fellow) and Prof. Shurlee Swain. Returning to London, Simon also presented a paper at last week's Urban Belonging conference in Bloomsbury, offering a talk on 'Blending in or standing out? Australians in London, 1880s-1920s'.

Call for applications: British Library PhD placement scheme

Thursday 12 January 2017

British LibraryThe British Library invites applications to its  PhD placement scheme. 14 different placement projects are being offered under this current Call. These have been selected to support teams based across the Library to carry out a range of projects and activities, whilst also providing unique professional development opportunities for PhD researchers. It is not necessary for the project to relate directly to your PhD topic or specific research interests. 

Under the current Call, placements are available in the following Australian-themed areas:

  • Contemporary Collecting from Australasia
  • The Representation and Interpretation of James Cook’s Voyages in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Each project offers bespoke training and professional development opportunities, plus wide scope to shape the specific focus of the activities and outputs around your own interests and expertise.

For full profiles of each placement project, as well as the application guidelines and timetable,  please visit the British Library's website. The application deadline is February 20 2017, interviews will take place in March/April 2017.

Jatinder Mann to discuss new book at State Library of SA

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Join Dr. Jatinder Mann on 30 January at the State Library of South Australia as he discusses his new book  The Search for a New National Identity: The Rise of Multiculturalism in Canada and Australia, 1890s-1970s (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2016).

This book explores the profound social, cultural, and political changes that affected the way in which Canadians and Australians defined themselves as a "people" from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s.

This event is free, but booking is essential.


December 2016

'Popular culture': the fourth 2016-2017 Menzies Seminar

Tuesday 20 December

Menzies Seminar 4Last week the Menzies Centre welcomed researchers Kali Myers and Sarah Wishart and poet Katherine Gallagher for the fourth and final Menzies Seminar of 2016 as well as a book launch and end of year function. 

Sarah gave a paper on the classic Australian film The Castle. She considered the film's catch phrases as a performance of love, and how these phrases have been understood by Australian and non-Australian audiences. Kali's paper examined the works of Australian artists Destiny Deacon and Tracey Moffatt, and how these artists produced a 'cute grotesque' via black girlhood, which unsettles conventional narratives of post-colonial Australia.

Following these well-received papers, Director of the Centre Ian Henderson launched Katherine Gallagher's  Acres of Light: New Poems (Arc Publications, 2016). Afterwards, attendees joined together to toast another successful year at the Menzies Centre. 

The fifth 2016–17 Menzies Seminar ‘Colony, Post-Colony?’ will take place on Wednesday 25th January 2017.

Professor Bridge co-edits new book, Australia Goes to Washington 

Friday 9 December 2016

Australia Goes to WashingtonAustralia Goes to Washingtonco-edited by Carl Bridge, David Lowe and David Lee brings together expert analyses of the establishment of Australian legislation in Washington DC, those who have served as heads of mission and of the challenges they have faced.

It provides an appreciation of the importance of the embassy and the head of mission in Washington in mediating the relationship between Australia and the United States and of their role in managing expectations in Canberra and Washington. Australia Goes to Washington also sheds new light on personal trials and achievements at the coalface of Australian–United States relations.

The book is the result of a project between Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Deakin University and the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies.

Australia Goes to Washington is available to download free with hard copies available to purchase in 2017.

"Australia's Impressionists a magnificent showcase of Australian creativity"

Wednesday 7 December 2016

The Menzies Centre was proud to attend the opening of the National Gallery of London's first Australian focused exhibition Australia's Impressionists on Tuesday 6 December 2016.

Menzies Centre Director, Dr Ian Henderson, deemed the exhibition of Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, John Russell and Charles Conder "a magnificent showcase of Australian creativity". 

A beautifully curated collection of about 40 paintings, Australia's Impressionists is also the first exhibition in the UK to focus solely on Australia's significant impressionist movement. 

Australia's Impressionists is open until 26 March 2017.

Australia's Impressionists in London & Europe, Dr Anna Gray

Friday 2 December 2016

Australia's Impressionists panel

The Menzies Centre was proud to partner with the National Gallery of London to host Australia's Impressionists in London & Europe in celebration of the Gallery's 'Australia's Impressionists'

Australia’s Impressionist in London & Europe, Friday 2 December, featuring a plenary lecture from Dr Anna Gray, Emeritus Curator at the National Gallery of Australia. Following the lecture, Dr Gray was joined in conversation with independent art historian Lucrezia Walker and Wayne Tunnicliffe, Head Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW. 

Call for international experts: Beijing Foreign Studies University

Thursday 1 December 2016

Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) is a prestigious university in China known for its language and cross-cultural studies programs.

In July 2016, BFSU successfully held its first International Summer School, with 25 courses offered by scholars from 9 different countries. More than 400 students from 7 universities in China and the UK took courses at the Summer School.

BFSU is now calling for international experts for its 2017 International Summer School Program, which is designed to provide students with an opportunity for international exposure and build their academic competence. We’d also like to promote the participation of more international students in the program so as to create a platform for intercultural communication between students from home and abroad.

For more information  please download this PDF.


November 2016

Paperback release of Dr Simon Sleight's first book

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Routledge cover

Dr Simon Sleight's first book is now re-released by Routledge in paperback. Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870-1914 tells the story of the children of the Victorian gold rush, at work and at play amidst a nascent city. 

Capturing the voices of young people as well as those of their parents, the study alerts us to the ways in which young people shaped the emergent metropolis by appropriating space and attempting to impress upon the city their own desires. Play, street work, consumerism, courtship, gang-related activities and public parades are examined using a plethora of historical sources to reveal a hitherto hidden layer of city life. Here a dynamic youth culture flourished well before the discovery of the ’teenager’ in the mid-twentieth century; here young people and the city grew up together. 

To mark the launch of the book, the publisher is offering 20% off both the hardback and paperback versions. Visit, using the discount code FLR40, to take advantage of this discount.     

'Screen Media & Alterity': the third Menzies seminar

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Menzies Seminar 3The Menzies Centre hosted the third of its academic seminar series Screening Australia on Wednesday 16 November 2016. Papers were given by two King's College London PhD Students: Kierran Horner and Sheridan Humphreys.

Kierran considered the films Walkabout(dir. Nicholas Roeg) and Wake in Fright(dir. Ted Kotcheff). Drawing on Lewis Carroll's Alice, he suggested these films conjured an Australian Outback Wonderland.

Sheridan, who is writing a screenplay as part of her PhD project, described her creative process. She identified a number of the artistic, political and historical tensions that arise in the process of producing nineteenth-century Indigenous Australian characters and experiences.

The next Menzies Seminar, Popular Culture, will take place on Wednesday 14 December.

Simon Sleight gives lecture at Courtauld Gallery

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Arthur Streeton, 'The Centre of Empire', 1902On Tuesday 15 November, Deputy Director of the Menzies Centre Dr Simon Sleight gave a public lecture at the Courtauld Gallery. Serving as a curtain-raiser for the upcoming events associated with the 'Australia's Impressionists' exhibition at the National Gallery, Simon's lecture was titled 'Representing the "Modern" City: Fin-de-siècle Paris and London'.

Simon's lecture explored how artists responded to the shifting conditions of urban living, often mirroring the acceleration of change with an acceleration of technique. Examining the role of outsiders (such as Australian Arthur Streeton) and insiders (like Gustave Caillebotte) in representing the city, themes of mobility, illumination and ambiguity were explored as turn-of-the-century preoccupations.

75 members of the public, graduate students and undergraduate students attended. Simon was pleased to donate his £150 speaker fee to the King's College London History Undergraduate Hardship fund.

Image: Arthur Streeton, 'The Centre of the Empire', 1902.

2016 Reese Lecture: Beautiful Humanitarians by Dr. Agnieszka Sobocinska

Wednesday 9 November 2016

16 Reese Lecture_Sleight Sobocinska Henderson

On Wednesday 9 November the Menzies Centre was delighted to have Dr Agnieszka Sobocinska deliver the 2016 Reese Lecture. 

Agnieszka's lecture entitled Beautiful Humanitarians: The Public Faces of International Development in the 1950s and 1960s, traced the contribution of volunteering programs to popular conceptions of international development in Australia, Britain and the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.

Dr Agnieszka Sobocinska is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University, Australia. She is an historian with research interests in the intersection of popular opinion and foreign affairs, particularly in the context of Australia and Asia and of Western constructions of the Third World. 

The prestigious Reese Lecture at the Menzies Centre is given annually in honour of Dr Trevor Reese, a distinguished historian of the British Commonwealth and Australia and Reader at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

Sidney Nolan Centenary 2017: programme launch

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Nolan_'myself'In 2017, the  Sidney Nolan Trust will present a nationwide programme of exhibitions, events and publications to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Australian artist Sir Sidney Nolan OM AC RA. The year long programme will include contributions from some of the UK's most prestigious cultural institutions, reflecting Nolan's standing as a leading figure of 20th century art.

Chair of the Sidney Nolan Trust, Lord Lipsey, launched the programme saying, "Sidney Nolan was a great painter who deserves to be restored in the public vision, this is our aim for the centenary year."

The Menzies Centre is excited to host a Nolan in Britain symposium at King's College London, exploring this eminent Australian artist's work and life in Britain. The symposium will feature panel conversations with prominent academics and artists and moderated by Jonathan Watkins, Director of Birmingham's acclaimed Ikon Gallery.

Image: Sir Sidney Nolan OM AC RA, 'Myself', 1988. © Sidney Nolan Trust.


October 2016


Menzies Centre & National Gallery partner to host Australia's Impressionists in London & Europe

Monday 31 October 2016

Australia's ImpressionistsThe Menzies Centre is proud to partner with the National Gallery of London to host Australia's Impressionists in London & Europe in celebration of the Gallery's 'Australia's Impressionists'  exhibition.

Australia’s Impressionist in London & Europe will take place on Friday 2 December 2016 at King’s College London and feature a plenary lecture from Dr Anna Gray, former Emeritus Curator at the National Gallery of Australia. Following the lecture, Dr Gray will be joined in conversation with independent art historian Lucrezia Walker and Wayne Tunnicliffe, Head Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Please register for Australia's Impressionists in London & Europe through Eventbrite.

'Australia’s Impressionists' (7 December 2016 – 26 March 2017) is the first exhibition in the UK to focus solely on Australian Impressionist artists. Showcasing four of Australia’s major exponents of Impressionism – Tom Roberts (1856–1931), Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder (1868–1909), and John Russell (1858–1930) – the exhibition features over forty works from some of Australia’s leading public galleries as well as private collections from Australia and the UK. Many works will be on view in the UK for the first time.

Image: Detail from Arthur Streeton, 'Ariadne', 1895. © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Billy Bragg to launch London premier screening of Death or Liberty

Friday 28 October 2016

The Menzies Centre is hosting London's premier screening of  Death or Liberty on Tuesday 22 November. The film screening will be opened by Billy Bragg and followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with Professor Tony Moore.

Death or Liberty, an award winning documentary, tells the story of political prisoners exiled to the Australian colonies as convicts in the late 18th and 19th Centuries. The film features celebrated troubadours, Billy Bragg, Mick Thomas and Lisa O'Neill as well as experts and historians such as Dr Tony Moore and Tom Keneally.

Please register for the Death or Liberty screening through Eventbrite.

Repatriation of Australian Indigenous ancestral remains at Australia House

Friday 14 October 2016

Indigenous Australian flags at Aus HouseRepresentatives of the Menzies Centre, Simon Sleight, Peter Kilroy and Maddie Gay attended the repatriation ceremony of Australian Indigenous ancestral remains at Australia House on Friday 14 October. 

Ngarrindjeri Elder, Major Sumner, performed a traditional smoking ceremony before the remains of 13 Indigenous ancestors were returned to members of the  Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation and representatives of the Ngarrindjeri and Whadjuk communities. The ceremony was attended by Australian High Commissioner Hon. Alexander Downer AC and former Australian Prime Minister Hon. Julia Gillard. 

For more than 150 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains and secret sacred objects were removed from their communities for various reasons and placed in museums, universities and private collections in Australia and overseas. 

The Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation help facilitate the unconditional return of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains from overseas collections and the safe return to their communities of origin, contributing to healing and reconciliation.

Read the  media release from the Department of Communications and the Arts. 

'Landscape' the theme of second Menzies Seminar

Wednesday 12 October 2016

161012_Menzies SeminarThe Menzies Centre hosted the second of its academic seminar series Screening Australia on Wednesday 12 October 2016. Papers were given by Dr Steven Allen (University of Winchester) and Dr. Jonathan Rayner (University of Sheffield).

Steven examined representations of Tasmania in the films The Hunter(2011), Dying Breed (2008) and Van Diemen’s Land (2009). He considered the various layers of loss as depicted in the films, and the ways that post-settler Australian society is coming to terms with its colonial past.

Jonathan sought the Australian sublime and gothic in Mad Max (1979) and Mad Max Fury Road (2015). To do this, he analysed the landscape and the people in both films. He consciously unsettled the audience with various haunting close-up images of eyes.

Following the papers, the Menzies Centre hosted the London launch of Professor Ian McLean’s new book Rattling Spears: A History of Indigenous Australian Art. In a lively conversation with Ian, Associate Professor Anthony Gardner (University of Oxford) launched the book.

The next Menzies Seminar,  Screen Media & Alterity, will take place on Wednesday 16 November.

Hon. Julia Gillard delivers 2016 Menzies Lecture

Wednesday 5 October 2016


Julia Gillard Strand Group-36
On Wednesday 5 October the Hon. Julia Gillard delivered the 2016 Menzies Lecture entitled The Future of the Commonwealth

The Menzies Centre proudly partnered with the Policy Institute at King's to host former Australian Prime Minister Hon. Julia Gillard as  Visiting Professor of King's College London.

Menzies Centre Director, Dr. Ian Henderson, opened the event saying:

"Professor Gillard... You find us here in Great Britain struggling with our identity, feeling, perhaps, a cultural cringe. But, you find the people of Great Britain also innervated with the future, galvanised by questions of political and cultural sovereignty, invigorated by new possibilities, new freedoms, excited by what might come.

The Menzies Centre for Australian Studies is, on a smaller scale but with no less ambition, engaged in collaborative re-invention. Our purpose is to deepen understandings of the formidable continent in these islands. We will do so through excellence in research and teaching here at King's, by testing new forms, spaces and technologies in education, by trialling new partnerships across national lines, by pressing and making stronger connections between higher education, government, and business, and by promoting Australian culture and those who create it in this Great Britain."

King's College Principal, Ed Byrne, said:

"Professor Gillard’s Menzies Lecture on The Future of the Commonwealth comes at a significant moment in Britain, with the country re-negotiating its economic, trade, and cultural relationship to the rest of the world. The whole King’s community is invested in the questions that arise from Brexit.

We have much to learn, then, from Ms Gillard’s experience in negotiating deals on a world stage, developing national policies in a period of great change, and steering difficult legislation through parliament. Her appearance tonight as a Visiting Professor at King’s could not be more timely, just as her well-known commitment to education makes her presence at the College all the more welcome."

Ms Gillard's  full speech is available to download here.

Principal Ed Byrne announces new partnership with University of Melbourne & Menzies Centre

Wednesday 5 October 2016

At the  2016 Menzies Lecture with Hon. Julia Gillard on 5 October, Principal Ed Byrne announced a new partnership between King's College London and the  University of Melbourne

In 2017 Melbourne and King's will launch a programme of Joint Distinguished Visiting Fellowships through which eminent Australians will contribute to both institutions in the course of a year. Hosted in London by the Menzies Centre, each Distinguished Fellow will bring a broad range of experience in business, government, arts and culture to engagements with the King’s community. 

Professor Ed Byrne said: 

"I look forward to these visits strengthening our ties with the University of Melbourne and Australia more broadly, truly embodying the Menzies Centre’s vision of promoting a deep understanding of contemporary Australia throughout Britain, Europe and beyond."

For further information about the Joint Distinguished Visiting Fellowships please contact Menzies Centre Projects Manager,  Maddie Gay.

Peter Kilroy travels to Far North Queensland for Screening the Torres Strait project

Monday 3 October 2016

Torres Strait research tripBetween August and September 2016 the Menzies Centre’s British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr Peter Kilroy, conducted a research trip to Cairns and the Torres Strait Islands in Far North Queensland. His visit was timed to coincide with the biennial Winds of Zenadth Cultural Festival on Thursday Island.

Peter took the opportunity to meet with key figures in the screen media industry, including actors, directors and producers from shows like Remote Area NurseThe StraitsMaboRedfern Now and Black Comedy, and organisations like UMI Arts, My Pathways, Gab Titui Cultural Centre, Torres News and NITV.

Peter’s trip also coincided with two important initiatives. The first was the launch of Screen Queensland’s  three-year policy to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait screen media practitioners in key creative roles, such as writer, director and producer. This policy initiative was launched in Cairns in August and was followed by regional information sessions, including one at the  Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island. This session was hosted by Cairns-based Torres Strait actor, writer, producer and director, Aaron Fa’Aoso (Remote Area NurseThe StraitsBlack ComedyGoldstone), and included representatives from Screen Queensland, Screen Australia, NITV and key emerging practitioners in the screen media industry locally.



PhD candidate film selected for Aesthetica Short Film Festival

Monday 3 October 2016

Sonal KantariaNew PhD student of the Menzies Centre, Sonal Kantaria, has had her film selected for BAFTA recognised  Aesthetica Short Film Festival

After The Crow Flies, navigates the stark Western Australian desert featuring Aboriginal Elder Clarrie Cameron. Clarrie narrates the film, telling the stories of the effect of colonisation on his peoples and the way this has shaped modern day Australia.

The BAFTA Qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival is an international film festival which takes place annually in York, UK, at the beginning of November. The festival is a celebration of independent short film from around the world, and an outlet for supporting and championing filmmaking.


September 2016


Sheridan Humphreys reviews Things I Know To Be True

by Sheridan Humphreys, PhD candidate, Menzies Centre and Department of English

Friday 30 September 2016

Australian suburbia returns to the London stage (and national tour) with English and Scottish accents, and totem tennis with Andrew Bovell's  Things I Know To Be True.

Beautifully directed by Geordie Brookman and Scott Graham, with smart characters and a light touch to the dialogue, Things I Know To Be True is the latest Australian play to premiere in the UK and it covers a familiar suburban thematic landscape that is, I will argue, uniquely Australian. 

The opening scene sets the tone for the theatrical magic that is to follow. A man, in a state of heartbreak, leaning forwards in defiance of gravity towards something he will never reach. The next scene says Australian: we meet Rosie, in her bright  red dress and her elastic sided riding boots.  



Solidarity Inside and Outside Colonial Borders, article published by Visiting Fellow Emma Patchett

Thursday 29 September 2016

Visiting Fellow of the Menzies Centre, Emma Patchett, has published a new article for Critical Legal Thinking, Solidarity Inside and Outside Colonial Borders.

In her article Emma explores the question, "Can we evoke a critical form of solidarity using the emancipatory recognition of Indigenous sovereignty?". 

Emma's interdisciplinary doctoral research focused on the spatial refractions of migration law in the contemporary novels of the Roma diaspora. 

Peter Kilroy reviews new study of avant-garde Indigenous aesthetics in 'remote' Australia

Friday 23 September 2016

Remote Avant-Garde: Jennifer Loureide BiddleBritish Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Menzies Centre, Dr Peter Kilroy, has reviewed Jennifer Loureide Biddle's new book for the LSE Review of Books. 

Remote Avant-Garde: Aboriginal Art Under Occupation (University Press, 2016), focuses on the emergence of an avant-garde Indigenous aesthetics in ‘remote’ Australia in the context of the parallel instantiation of governmental policy aimed at targeting perceived levels of delinquency and dysfunction in Aboriginal communities.

Peter writes, "This is a refreshingly sensitive and nuanced account that is a must-read not only for those interested in the specificities of emerging Indigenous artistic traditions in the Northern Territory and elsewhere, but also for those interested in the ongoing political, cultural and economic processes of so-called ‘settler’ societies across Australia and beyond."

To read Peter's full review please visit the  LSE Review of Books website.

'Adaptation & History' opens 2016-17 Menzies Seminar series Screening Australia

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Ian Henderson, Imelda Whelehan, Claire McCarthyThe Menzies Centre was delighted to launch the 2016-17 academic seminar series on Wednesday 21 September. Claire McCarthy and Professor Imelda Whelehan, both from the University of Tasmania, opened the Screening Australia series with  Adaptation & History.

Claire's paper examined the way in which films adapt history, myth and stereotypes to represent new versions of Australia’s ‘national story’. Claire was awarded an Elite Research Scholarship to undertake her PhD in Humanities at the University of Tasmania.

Imelda, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Research Professor, presented a paper entitled The Criminal and the Yarn: adapting and performing notoriety.

Our next seminar,  Landscape, will be held on Wednesday 12 October.

Professor Carl Bridge interviewed by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard

Sunday 18 September 2016

Professor Carl Bridge was interviewed by former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, for his television documentary  Howard on Menziesbroadcast on ABC on 18 September 2016.

Sitting at the table in the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall they discussed Australian wartime Prime Minister Robert Menzies' little-known role in helping draw the United States into the Second World War in 1941 at the time of the Blitz, Lend-Lease, the Greek and North African Campaigns, and Japan's first southward moves into Indo-China.

Professor Bridge argued that while it was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 that finally brought the United States into the war, the Allies' astute management of the conduct of the war and of their relationship with the Americans in the year or so beforehand made American participation and the ultimate victory so much more likely.

Muriel Matters Society launch at Australia House

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Muriel Matters image

On Tuesday 13 September the  Muriel Matters Society hosted a reception at Australia House to celebrate the launch its London Chapter. The Society promotes the legacy and philosophy of South Australian-born suffragist Muriel Matters (1877-1969), who agitated for women’s suffrage and equality in UK from soon after her arrival in 1905.

Frances Bedford MP, State Member of Florey, South Australia, opened the event with a reading from a lively newspaper report of Matters in action. 

Ms Bedford presented the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies with a print commemorating Muriel Matters, and reminded guests that the quest for genuine equality and social justice for all is ongoing.

For more information on the Muriel Matters Society please  visit their website, or  watch this short video.

Helen Idle, PhD candidate, awarded Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Friday 9 September 2016

Helen Idle

The Menzies Centre is pleased to announce that PhD candidate, Helen Idle, has been awarded an Arts & Sciences Postdoctoral Research Project Fellowship at King's College London. 

During the three month Fellowship Helen will work with the Principal Investigator, and Centre Director Dr Ian Henderson, to develop a research grant application. If successful, the grant will fund a project to investigate the role of international Indigenous Australian art exhibitions in the projection of a modern Australian national identity.

Helen's own research project Where are you from? The exhibition of Australian Indigenous art in Europe 2011-2014 responds to the display of Australian Indigenous art in exhibition in Europe in order to develop new approaches to art writing and criticism in this specific context. 

 Menzies Centre colleagues to speak at International Australian Studies Association conference

Friday 9 September 2016

In December 2016 Menzies Centre for Australian Studies colleagues Dr Anna Cole and Helen Idle will join Dr Ben Cole to present a panel of papers at the  International Australian Studies Association (InASA) conference

The panel will speak on the topic Insider/Outsider/In-betweener: Finding country away, exploring the ways of negotiating Australia from afar.

Hosted by Curtin University in Western Australia this year's InASA conference is themed Re-imagining Australia: Encounter, Recognition, Responsibility and will offer the opportunity of addressing the intensification of overlapping, interpenetrating and mixing of cultures and peoples in everyday life in Australia.


August 2016

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard appointed as Visiting Professor

Wednesday 31 August 2016
As published by Policy Institute, King's College London

Julia Gillard

The Hon Julia Gillard, who served as Prime Minister of Australia from June 2010 to June 2013, has joined King’s College London as a Visiting Professor. She will work closely with the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies and the Policy Institute at King’s.

Professor Ed Byrne, President and Principal at King’s College London, said:

‘We are delighted and honoured to welcome Julia as a Visiting Professor to the Policy Institute and Menzies Centre at King’s College London. On a more personal note it’s a pleasure to see a fellow British born Australian – Julia was born in Wales – join us here at this world leading university.  Julia brings the most incredible wealth of experience, as well as important insights of the education systems both here and in Australia. She is a great champion for equal opportunity and excellent education, an ethos we share here at King’s.’

Read the full article on the Policy Institute's website.

Dr Ian Henderson resumes position as Director of the Menzies Centre

Wednesday 31 August 2016
by Dr Ian Henderson Menzies Centre Director

Dr Ian HendersonI am delighted to be re-taking the reigns of the Menzies Centre after the exciting developments over the last several months under the directorships of Drs Simon Sleight and Peter Kilroy.

As Director I will resume my commitment to the internationalisation of Australian Studies in ways appropriate to the new world of technology-based learning, communication and research, consolidating and developing our ties to the marvellous centres of expertise in the field in Australia as well as across the globe; and to networks of researchers closer to home in Britain and (yes) Europe.  

This in addition to strengthening the Centre’s connections to stakeholders and partners in its glittering London hinterland. These are, if nothing else, exciting times in Britain, and in the coming year we look forward to playing our part as the country re-invents itself, a process always in dialogue with the shifting futures of Australia itself.



Emma Patchett extends Visiting Fellowship at the Menzies Centre 

Friday 26 August 2016

Emma PatchettThe Menzies Centre is delighted that Emma Patchett will extend her Visiting Fellowship until the end of September 2016.

Emma is using her time at the Menzies Centre to work on an exciting project examining contemporary Australian 'spatial imaginaries', exploring their cultural refractions and productive beginnings in law, film and literature. She will be presenting a paper on initial findings at the Critical Legal Conference in Kent, 1 - 3 September.

Emma is currently finalising articles looking at architectural topographies and 'criminal underbellies' in the novels of Janette Turner Hospital, and Indigenous and migrant solidarity in the works of Alexis Wright.

Emma's productive period at the Menzies Centre will culminate in a short podcast series looking at law, space and film in the Postcolonial context, drawing on cultural texts in order to reflect on current legal issues.

Menzies Centre welcomes back Dr Jatinder Mann

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Jatinder MannWe are pleased to welcome back Dr Jatinder Mann as a Visiting Fellow at the Menzies Centre.

Jatinder was previously affiliated with the Menzies Centre as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow during 2012 and 2013.

During his time at the Centre, Jatinder will be working on a project on ‘The end of the British World and the redefinition of citizenship in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, 1950s-1970s’.

Jatinder has recently published a monograph with Peter Lang Publishing, based on his doctoral thesis entitled The Search for a New National Identity: The Rise of Multiculturalism in Canada and Australia, 1890s-1970s.

You can view a video recording of the book launch on Jatinder's blog.

Dr Agnieszka Sobocinska to deliver 2016 Reese Lecture, 9 November

Monday 22 August 2016

Sobocinska 2016On Wednesday 9 November, Dr Agnieszka Sobocinska from Monash University's National Centre for Australian Studies will deliver the  2016 Reese Lecture at the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies.

Agnieszka's lecture, Beautiful Humanitarians: The Public Faces of International Development in the 1950s and 1960s, will trace the contribution of volunteering programs to popular conceptions of international development in Australia, Britain and the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.

The prestigious Reese Lecture is given annually in honour of Dr Trevor Reese, a distinguished historian of the British Commonwealth and Australia and Reader at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. This lecture is always given by a younger scholar in the disciplines of history or political science.

More information on the 2016 Reese Lecture and to register, essential, please visit  the event page.

A reflection on Australia and the "greatest game on earth"

by Bart Zielinski, Menzies Centre PhD student
Friday 19 August 2016

"It’s the Rio Olympic Games, and Australia has had mixed results. Some even express disappointment at the medal tally so far, just a few days from the end of the event.

In the midst of the lamenting, however, there is an exciting story of success in the guise of the Boomers, the Australian men’s basketball team."


Launch of Things I Know To Be True at Australia House

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Things I Know To Be True launchOn Wednesday 17 August Australia House hosted a reception in celebration of the State Theatre Company of South Australia's UK tour of Things I Know To Be True.

This new play by Australian playwright, Andrew Bovell, tells the story of a family and marriage through the eyes of four grown siblings struggling to define themselves beyond their parents' love and expectations. 

"Australia's arts sector presents a contemporary image of our nation to the world," said Deputy High Commissioner to the UK, Andrew Todd.

"Our ability to influence internationally depends on the links Australia makes with the world through cultural exchange."

Things I Know To Be True, presented by Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company of South Australia, is running at the Lyric Hammersmith from 10 September - 1 October 2016. For more UK tour dates, visit the  Frantic Assembly website.


July 2016

Dr Sleight speaks at 2016 AHA Conference: From Boom to Bust

July 2016

Simon_plenary panelDuring July Dr Simon Sleight travelled to Australia to attend the 2016 Australian Historical Association Conference, From Boom to Bust, held between 4 and 8 July at Federation University in Ballarat.

Simon took part in the conference’s plenary panel discussion, ‘Centering the City: Spaces of Practice in Australian Urban and Regional History’. The panel was held in the magnificent 1860s Minerva Room in the Mechanics’ Institute, a room which hosted Mark Twain during his world speaking tour in 1895.

Simon's paper, ‘Just passing through? On loitering in the (trans)urban’, examined youthful courtship in Melbourne, London, New York and Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and explored the differences between local and global practices.

Cultural power of Indigenous Australian hip hop

Friday 8 July 2016

Image of Peter KilroyOn Friday 8 July Menzies Centre’s Acting Director and Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr Peter Kilroy, gave a paper on Indigenous Australia hip hop at the  Power of Hip Hop Exchange.

Peter's talk explored Indigenous Australian hip hop as an appropriate frame to view Australian political tension. In particular Peter spoke about  RECOGNISE, a campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution, and the campaign to  negotiate a treaty in order to effect substantive political and economic change. 

The Power of Hip Hop Exchange is a joint initiative of  In Place of War and the Index on Censorship.


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