Recentring Australian Art: Looking Past the Mainstream is an Australian Research Council-funded project (2018—) that seeks to document, investigate and understand a broad swathe of Australian visual practice beyond the fixed canons of art history. The project aims to open public awareness to the work of artists who have experienced marginalisation within the art world and within Australian society at large. This includes work by artists with experience of disability or mental health issues; artists with a history of incarceration; artists from refugee and recent migrant backgrounds; and untrained artists who commenced artmaking following a significant life event.

The term ‘Recentring’ in the project’s title signifies our challenge to existing histories of Australian art. We conceptualise the existing canon of art in Australia – which has failed to adequately take account of non-mainstream artists and their work – as a centred, one-dimensional narrative that needs to be replaced by a more multiple understanding of the diversity of artistic practice in this country.  The outcomes of the project will include several books and journal articles, as well as a website and a proposed art exhibition.

[Image: Anthony Mannix, Page from Journal of a Madman No. 7, 1989. Photo: Dr Gareth Jenkins.]

Aims of the Project

We aim to:

  • produce an understanding of non-mainstream artists, their work, and the socio-historical context in which they make their art
  • develop an art history examining the connections between marginalised and mainstream art practices, and the extent to which non-mainstream artists’ work can and should be acknowledged within a mainstream art historical context
  • generate a deeper understanding of mainstream art in this country and paint a richer, more complex picture of the history of Australian artistic culture

[Image: Michael Camakaris, Pre, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 168 x 153 cm. Image courtesy of Arts Project Australia.]


This page shows publications produced since the commencement of the project in 2018 and related publications by members of the research team that appeared prior to the project.

[Image: Mark Smith, Welcome, 2018, calico, cotton thread and stuffing, 110 x 55 x 34 cm. Monash University Museum of Art Collection. Image courtesy of Arts Project Australia.]

Conference Papers

White, A., “Captivity and Creativity in Wartime,” Working Group, 2023 Modern Language Association Annual Conference (San Francisco, 6 January 2023). https://mla.confex.com/mla/2023/meetingapp.cgi/Session/14851

White, A., ‘Italian Internees and Prisoners of War in Australia 1940-1945: Carceral Aesthetics’ (Multilingual Encounters in Captivity: Italians in POW Camps), Modern Language Association Annual Conference (Washington, D. C., January 2022).

Parlane, A. & White, A., “Recentring Australian Art”, Panel, IMPACT: Art Association of Australia & New Zealand (AAANZ) Conference, Sydney, December 2021.

White, A., ‘Opening Australian Art History: The Case Of Henry Dearing,’ Sixteenth International Conference on the Arts in Society, The University of Western Australia, School of Design, Perth (June, 2021).

Green, C, ‘Art, Wellness and Creativity,’ The Intersection of Wellness and Creativity: Mapping the Field, keynote lecture, conference, University of Melbourne (November 2019).

White, A, ‘Storytelling at The Dax Centre’, Transformational and Dangerous: The Ethics of Storytelling Workshop, Art-Based Social Enterprise and Marginalised Young People’s Transitions Project, RMIT University (November 2019).

White, A, ‘The Dax Centre: An Archive of Works by Artists with Experience of Mental Illness’, Heat & Dust: Artists, Archives, Art History, Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Power Institute, University of Sydney (November 2018).

White, A, ‘Outsider Art: Historical Perspectives’, Outsider Art: Contemporary Considerations, part of the Talk the Talk lecture series, Art Curatorship Partnership Projects, University of Melbourne (April 2018).

Journal Articles

White, A., ‘Anthony Mannix: Secessions from Systems’ Index Journal 4 (2022), 1-29, 10.38030/INDEX-
, https://index-journal.org/issues/secession/anthony-mannix-secessions-from-systems

White, A., ‘Henry Dearing: Decentering Australian Art’, The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, volume 17, issue 1, 2022, pp. 25 – 38. https://doi.org/10.18848/2326-9952/CGP/v17i01/25-38

White, A., “Anthony Mannix’s Mixed Realities”, Art Monthly Australasia 327, Autumn 2021, pp. 80 – 87.

Parlane, A., “Overlapping Magisteria: Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, 05 Dec 2020 – 15 Mar 2021” Memo Review 19 December 2020.

McQuilten, G; Spiers, A, ‘Art is different: Material practice, learning and co-making at The Social Studio’, Journal of Arts & Communities, vol. 10, No1 & 2, 2020.

White, A; Parlane, A; McQuilten, G; Green, C, ‘Outsider Art in Australia: Artists’ Voices Versus Art-world Mythologies’, Art & Australia, vol. 56 Issue 1, p41-48, 2019.

Parlane, A ‘FEM-aFFINITY at Arts Project Australia’, Memo Review 20 July 2019.

McQuilten, G, ‘The political possibilities of art and fashion based social enterprise’, Continuum, vol. 31, no 1, 2017.

Parlane, A, ‘Stuart Ringholt: Works on Paper at Neon Parc,’ Memo Review, 25 February 2017.

McQuilten, G, ‘Self-Made: Arts Project Australia,’ Assemble Papers, August 10, 2015.

White, A, ‘Graeme Doyle, The Cunningham Dax Collection and Surrealist Discourse’, Papers of Surrealism, vol. 6, 2007.


McQuilten, G., and Spiers, A., “Joining my future: Art/Work, Inequality and Crisis,” Bus Projects, 19 January – 27 February 2021

Koh, E., and White, A., “The Art of Making Sense,” The Cunningham Dax Collection, 1 May – 1 November 2008.


McQuilten, G, The Social Studio: Fashion, Food, Art & Community, Melbourne: Melbourne Books, 2015.

Jones, K, Koh, E, Veis, N, White, A, Hurworth, R, Bell, J, Shrimpton, B, Fitzpatrick, A, Framing Marginalised Art, UoM Custom Book Centre, 2010.


The project has hosted a number of events. These are listed here along with related events by members of the research team that took place prior to the project.


Roundtable Discussion hosted at Buxton Contemporary Gallery, November 2019.


International Conference Hosted by Arts Project and the University of Melbourne, October 2014.

Contesting Boundaries: Outliers and American Vanguard Art

Public Lecture and Seminar by Professor Lynne Cooke, August 2019.


Various exhibitions curated by CI Professor Charles Green provided inspiration for the Project.


Seminar by Professor James Elkins, June 2019.


Anthony White

Associate Professor, Art History, University of Melbourne

Email me: a.white@unimelb.edu.au

Grace McQuilten

Senior Lecturer, Art History and Theory, RMIT University

Email me: grace.mcquilten@rmit.edu.au

Charles Green

Professor of Contemporary Art, Art History, University of Melbourne

Email me: c.green@unimelb.edu.au

Anna Parlane

Lecturer, Art History and Theory, Monash University

Email me: anna.parlane@monash.edu.au

Project Advisory Board

The following people act as members of the project advisory board. They have provided invaluable insight and advice to the project and the research team thanks them for their time and effort.

Peter Fay, Ian MacLean, Alison Bennett, Sim Luttin, Sue Roff, Safdar Ahmed, David Doyle, Lindy Judge, Wart Burg, Michael Camakaris, Nur Shkembi, Max Delany, Peter Waples-Crowe.

Want to work with us?