Fabric(ations) of the Postcolonial Fabrics of change


Trading Identities is an exhibition extending from an Australian Research Council project ‘Fabric(ations) of the Postcolonial ’ at the University of Wollongong 2001-2004. The research, initiated by Dr Paul Sharrad, has explored the socio-historical processes of textile production, trade and cultural adaptation and the interactions between textiles as a metaphor in postcolonial English literatures. Curated by Diana Wood Conroy, the exhibition demonstrated the connections across countries of the former British Empire: Australia, Canada, the Pacific and India. Foregrounding contemporary artists Narelle Jubelin, Osmond Kantilla, Kay Lawrence, Nadia Myre and John Pule, it positioned museum artefacts that related to the context of their work. These artefacts showed that their art does not come from a void but emerges out of complex trajectories of geographical exploration, trade, and colonisation.

The exhibition and colour catalogue have been supported by a grant from the Australia Council. Curated by Dr Diana Wood Conroy , Fabrics of Change included rare museum fabrics and artefacts related to the research of Dr Paul Sharrad (Assoc. Prof. English Studies), Dr Anne Collett (Senior Lecturer English Studies) and Dr Dorothy Jones (Assoc. Prof, Honorary Fellow, English Studies).

This paper outlines the process of applying for the ARC Discovery grant, and collaborating between two disciplines. It describes the outcomes: accomplishing a conference, journal articles, and an edited book and exhibition/ monograph. Obtaining specific funding from other sources for exhibition, and integrating postgraduates were crucial areas of the project.


Dr Diana Wood Conroy Currently Associate Professor in Visual Arts, Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong, Diana Wood Conroy has a B.A. (Hons) in Archaeology (University of Sydney) and a Doctor of Creative Arts degree (University of Wollongong) Her exhibition work explores relationships between classical, Aboriginal and personal worlds in tapestry and drawing. Her widely published critical writing on ancient and contemporary art and textiles is informed by material culture and postcolonial approaches.