‘Difficult Conversations’ hope for a better world

Online and in Canberra this week ‘Difficult Conversations’ explores the role of art and creativity in a polarised society. From 24 to 25 March academics, human rights activists and artists will come together care of the The University of Canberra and Ulster University in a symposium, at a time when conflict and trauma continue in Ukraine and other places in the world. Many of these socially engaged creatives, such as ‘Difficult Conversation’ participants Array Collective, who are 2021 Turner Prize winners, are ‘making life into art and art into life.’ (Tate Director, Alex Farquharson)

The event is part of the UK/Australia Season, Helen Salmon, Season Director and Director of the British Council in Australia said;

The theme of the UK/Australia Season is Who Are We Now?, bringing together artists and academics to explore our history and imagine who we might be in the future.

She continued “This is a complex question and key to its exploration are opportunities for deep listening, dialogue, and cultural exchange. This symposium will draw from experiences in Northern Ireland and Australia of creativity as a means to explore challenging subject matter and deepen mutual understanding.’

On Thursday 24th  you can engage with the program online via this link. A panel discussion will take place including the voices of Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Paddy Nixon, University of Canberra, Chancellor Dr Colin Davidson, Ulster University, Chancellor Professor Tom Calma, AO, University of Canberra, Distinguished Professor Jen Webb, University of Canberra, Dr Paul Collis, University of Canberra, Dr Louise Wallace, Ulster University and Moderator, Cara Kirkwood, National Gallery of Australia.

The group will discuss ‘complex topics, from reconciliation and truth-telling in the context of colonialism to polarising social or political issues.’

Then in person on Friday 25th there will be a series of live panel discussions as well as pre-recorded contributions from Ulster University.

Turner Prize 2021, The Druithaib’s Ball by Array Collective is an installation centred on an imagined shebeen, an illicit drinking den, photo by Doug Peters, PA Wire

Over the two days presenters include artists and academics from Northern Ireland and Australia such as Array Collective, acclaimed artist Willie Doherty, Barkindji writer and poet Dr Paul Collis, winner of the David Uniapon Award 2016 and ACT Book of the Year 2018, and University of Canberra Chancellor Tom Calma, social justice campaigner and former ACT Australian of the Year.

Location: Ann Harding Conference Centre, Building 24 University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
To register: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/difficult-conversations-the-symposium-tickets-275510448167