Contemporary Art Practice and the Public Domain


This paper presents a research seminar as a case study to explore the role of artists/educators and agencies in contemporary learning. Drawing on the international report ‘Moving Forward on Arts and Education’ (2006), a number of potential areas for action emerge:

• that we should regard teaching and learning in the arts as open-ended, iterative and evolving,

and not necessarily content-driven;

• that educators should enhance the learning and development of both artists and educators; • that education should increase the collaborations with other key partners.

The paper focuses on the role played by a high profile exhibition of secondary student art in relation to contemporary art practice and art, design and education. The paper discusses how the seminar aimed to generate dialogues around the significance of a key contemporary student exhibition that resides within a web of agencies and institutions.

The paper discusses the critical, but largely undiscussed, aspects of a key student exhibition as a public reflection of contemporary art practice, encompassing some of the following themes:

  • exhibitions and contemporary art/design practice;
  • dialogues between secondary and tertiary institutions and agencies;
  • the significance of exhibitions for the public broadly defined.

‘Moving Forward on Arts and Education’ (2006) A Report to the UNESCO World Conference on Arts and Education (Lisbon: March 2006). From the Arts and Education Mini-Summit in Melbourne, Australia, 11-12 September 2005.

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Kim Snepvangers is currently Head, School of Art Education, and a Senior Lecturer at the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales. Her current research uses qualitative methodologies to investigate assessment in art and design education and community engagement in a range of contemporary (physical and virtual) sites.

Gay McDonald is Postgraduate Research Coordinator and a Senior Lecturer at the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales. Her research interests include: modern art and design; exhibition history; the educational application of art history and theory; and the philosophy, history and theory of art museums.