The price of bananas: a painter’s perspective

Ruth Waller (ANU)
2017 Conference

This paper takes the form of a personal and professional reflection on the changing culture of university art schools and the implications I fear this may have for the future of programs focused on fostering individual art practices such as painting. I consider the qualities of experience, criticality and skill we value in offering an education focused on the pleasures and challenges of the tradition of solo studio practice. Drawing on three examples of creative dissent, I reflect on the significant historical cultural role of art schools as offering a space for the dissident, for both students and practitioners who seek to resist conforming to institutionally prescribed norms and values. While the pressures we all feel from government and management may demand a level of adaptation and pragmatism in the interests of survival, I suggest we might take time to consider what we might be jeopardising in the process.

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About the author

Ruth Waller has lectured in Painting at ANU for 27 years and has been Head of Painting since 2006. She exhibits with Watters Gallery in Sydney and Nancy Sever Gallery in Canberra. Waller’s practice explores questions of materiality and illusionism, pattern and optical effects in painting, and our relationship with natural phenomena through painting and traditions of gardening. She is interested in the nature of creative processes, the qualities of knowledge entailed in art practice, the history of painting and themes of influence, affinity and re-invention.