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Ian North AM

This webpage is no longer updated. Please visit my Adelaide University webpage: www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/ian.north

Adjunct Professor, SA School of Art and Hawke Research Institute,
University of South Australia

Adjunct Professor, Department of History and Politics,
University of Adelaide

Seasons (Kangaroo). 1987 (detail)
acrylic, Type C photographs, 38.5 x 48x5cm


PO Box 692 Kent Town SA 5071




MFA, MA (New Mexico); MA (Flinders); BA (Vic, Wgtn)

Professional history

Ian North has exhibited widely as an artist (using photography and painting, often combined) in Sydney, London, Adelaide, as well as various locations in the United States and Asia, particularly exploring considerations of place, identity and 'the imperial eye'. He has had fourteen solo shows since 1986.

Canberra No 8. 1980
Type C photograph, 37 x 45.7cm
coll: National Gallery of Australia


Ian was an art museum curator for fifteen years. He has curated many exhibitions of historical Australian art and contemporary art generally, including a number of photography exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia. He has written or edited significant books on the Australian artists Dorrit Black, Margaret Preston and Hans Heysen as well as publishing in leading art journals. He has also conducted research as a complement to studio work extending from Expanse: Aboriginalities, Spatialities and the Politics of Ecstasy, an exhibition he curated for the University of SA (now Samstag) Art Museum in 1998, considering the impact of the Indigenous art revolution, interculturalism and new approaches to the landscape. Ensuing essays include 'StarAboriginality', 2001, 'Living with Chai', 2001, 'The Kindness of Kathleen Petyarre', 2001, and 'Revolution's Gift: Aboriginal Art and a New Enlightenment', 2002. Ian North's interest in issues of place and identity segued into the developing field of bioaesthetics and led to him editing the book Visual animals in 2007.

In his academic role Ian North was closely involved with the development and management of postgraduate studies at the University of South Australia, acting frequently as an examiner interstate or as an Australian Research Council grant assessor. When he was Head of School he acted to professionalise the environment of the South Australian School of Art, lobbying successfully to relocate it from a suburb to the city, introducing higher degrees, establishing a professionally run art museum in 1986 (now known as the Samstag Museum of Art), organising residencies of major artists both Australian and international, and establishing the international Anne and Gordon Samstag Scholarship Program. As Adjunct Professor (School of History and Politics) at the University of Adelaide he has actively contributed to the innovative program in art history run jointly with the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Publications (selected) since 1988

Pedro de Almeida, Ian North: Felicia, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, 2013 (includes Pedro de Almeida, '"Just allowing it to be", a conversation with Ian North', pp 7–18.

Ian North (ed) Visual animals, Centre for Contemporary Art, Adelaide, 2007.
Awarded Art Association of Australia & New Zealand Prize for best Australasian publication of 2007.

Ian North, 'Spooked: art museums, photography and the problem of the real' in Daniel Palmer (ed), Photogenic: essays / images / CCP 2000–2004, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2005, pp 71–81.

Christine Nicholls and Ian North, Kathleen Petyarre: genius of place, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2001. Awarded Art Association of Australia & New Zealand Prize for best Australasian art publication in 2001. Reprinted 2005.

Ian North, 'La Gran Historia' ('Big story: Revisioning Australian Art, 1971–2001') Lapiz (Madrid), 179/180, 2002, pp 98–109.

Ian North, 'StarAboriginality' in Charles Green (ed), Postcolonial + art: where now? Artspace Visual Art Centre, Sydney, 2001. n.p. Reprinted by Hawke Research Institute, University of South Australia (Working Paper no 20), 2002, and anthologised in Klaus Stierstorfer (ed.), Return to postmodernism (Festschrift for Ihab Hassan), Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg, 2005, pp 151–166.

Ian North, 'Living with Chai' in Sarah Thomas (ed), Hossein Valamanesh: a survey, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2001, pp 48–74.

Ian North, Expanse: Aboriginalies, spatialities and the politics of ecstasy, University of South Australia Art Museum, Adelaide, 1998. Exhibition catalogue and essay for inaugural exhibition of University of South Australia Art Museum at city site. Artists: Jon Cattapan, Rosalie Gascoigne, Antony Hamilton, Kathleen Petyarre, Imants Tillers.

Solo exhibitions (selected) since 1986

Pseudo Panorama Australia (Zebra). 1987 acrylic, Type C photographs, 38.5 x 94.5cm
coll: Art Gallery of New South Wales

Group exhibitions (selected) since 1988

Major commissions

The Wave, 2004

The Wave. 2004
coll: Art Gallery of South Australia

Representation in public collections

Service to the profession