Responsible heritage: imagining Will

Keenan, Valerie Elizabeth (2009) Responsible heritage: imagining Will. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

Text (Introductory Pages)

Download (129MB)
Text (Whole Thesis)

Download (129MB)


The dissertation and associated exhibition of artworks developed for this study are inspired by a collection of 74 hand written letters (Henry 1896-1906) penned by a late nineteenth-century Queensland grazier, my great-uncle, William Henry (Figure 1). The letters were written to his
brother Hugh Henry while William lived and worked on Queensland cattle properties (Figure 2), Tinnenburra (South West Queensland), Bellenden Plains and Glenora (North Queensland) between 1895 and 1906. William died of typhoid in 1907 at the age of 30.

An overarching concept, a cabinet of curiosities, is intended to act as a broad structure and point of
focus for this inter-disciplinary study which draws predominately from visuality, new historicism, and
ethnographic theory. The bric-a-brac for my cabinet includes theoretical analysis, studio practice,
Will’s letters, archival material, other narratives and collected objects, as well as the recording and
interpretation of experience, travel, process and systems.

My research focuses on cultural aspects that are mentioned in the collection of letters using objects, words and imagery as a means to analyse the way in which society presents or projects itself. I maintain that to experience society is to experience more than can be captured in words
alone and the aim is to saturate, even overwhelm, the senses, while still providing points of connection, intrigue and interest. My arts practice strives to see, interpret, represent and reflect on the interaction between people, their culture and the environments within which they live. Parallels and juxtapositions between nineteenth century and the present in Australia are particularly
significant as I respond to historical events, places, things and people in both periods and consider
how time has transformed meaning and understanding.

In this context, this study seeks to extend cultural and social understanding through the reevaluation
of an aspect of Queensland cultural history against and alongside lived experiences and contemporary concepts; to research and map individual and social memory; to interrogate the concept of identity specifically concentrating on issues of subject/object relations and cultural influence; to consider the role of language and communication; to develop the synthesis of the
visual as an integral element of research; to examine the role of artworks (past and present) and collectibles within culture and the museum; and to develop a sustainable model of arts practice. The written and visual responses that emerge as a result of this study imagine my response to Will.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 19554
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Visual Arts (Up to 31 Mar 2011)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Visual Arts (Up to 31 Mar 2011)
Supervisors: Stewart, Robyn
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2011 03:02
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2016 01:26
Uncontrolled Keywords: family history; cultural history
Fields of Research (2008): 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1901 Art Theory and Criticism > 190104 Visual Cultures
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Fields of Research (2020): 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3601 Art history, theory and criticism > 360104 Visual cultures
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430302 Australian history

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only