CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Ian Fairweather: Artist at Large

Session 18 Media and Visuality

 Dr Claire Roberts, Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Associate Professor of Art History, The University of Melbourne


How do artists move beyond their own cultural formation and through experimentation with media and approaches to image making create visualities that open dialogues across different cultures? This question will be explored through a discussion of Scottish-born, Slade-educated artist Ian Fairweather (1891-1974), a complex product of the British Empire. In 1929 Fairweather travelled from Canada to Shanghai and never again returned to live in the United Kingdom for any extended period of time. For the rest of his life he sought safe havens in which to produce his increasingly radical art, residing in China, South and Southeast Asia and Australia (notably on Bribie Island off the Queensland coast).

 Fairweather’s decision to remain in the Asia-Pacific region was crucial in the development of his unique approach to media and visual form. It opened up his practice to different kinds of experience and knowledge (including the Chinese language) and at the same time made him an outsider to the art centres of the world. Deep and sustained transcultural inquiry of the kind Fairweather engaged in is hard to achieve. Fairweather will be reconsidered as an artist of international standing; one who was at home as an artist-at-large in the world.

ROBERTS, Claire 

Dr Claire Roberts is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Melbourne. She is an historian of Chinese art and a curator specializing in modern and contemporary Chinese art and visual culture. She was Senior Curator of Asian arts at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney (1988-2010) and held research fellowships at Harvard University (2011, 2009-10), and the Australian National University (2006-09). Claire studied at the Foreign Languages Institute, Beijing (1978-1979) and the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (1979-1981). She has a Bachelor of Arts (1983) and a Master of Arts (1987) from The University of Melbourne. Her PhD (2006), undertaken at The Australian National University, focused on the work of modern Chinese brush-and-ink painter Huang Binhong (1865-1955). Claire has published widely on Asian art and curated numerous exhibitions. Her most recent books are Yang Zhichao: Chinese Bible 1949-1999 (2015); Photography and China (2013); Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture (2012); Friendship in Art: Fou Lei and Huang Binhong (2010). Her current research project ‘Reconfiguring the World. China. Art. Agency 1900s to Now’ focuses on the international context of modern and contemporary Chinese art.