Artist and academic, was appointed Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales, College of Fine Arts c.1998.

According to the COFA website “since the 1960s (Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War) the content of Ian’s work has explored the relationship between civilian and military cultures. This has meant working at numerous and varied sites around the world; the Berlin Wall, Northern Ireland, the Pentagon, the Great Wall of China and more recently working directly with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Through a range of materials – rubbings, castings, photography, sculpture etc., power relationships inherent in objects, actions, images and locations, coming together at particular times, are explored.”

In correspondence with Joan Kerr in August 2000 he wrote:

I have been attempting to do the Great Wall project for nearly thirty years and through strong links developed with the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing during the 1990s I was able to undertake the work in April this year along with a rubbing of a Peoples’ Liberation Army tank.

The work in China and the exhibition in Beijing that accompanied it was the subject of a China Central Television documentary (estimated audience 50 million).

The Australian Defence Force Academy has been interested in my work for some time and last year I presented the annual Australian Defence Force Academy Lecture describing my earlier art projects with various military institutions as diverse as the Australian Army, the IRA and the Pentagon.

This lecture coincides with my China Wall(s) exhibition which opened at Watters Gallery, Sydney, last week.

The Great Wall(s) around T59 Tanks lecture will refer to the Great Wall rubbings and being ejected from the People’s Liberation Army Base in Hui Lai County. Eventually, however, the T59 Tank rubbing did go ahead and there is set in place potential for further important Australian/Chinese, artist/military liaisons.

As well as talking about my art (which is typically not 'art for art’s sake’) I will discuss via these experiences, the relationship between military and civilian populations and how this impacts on accountability, decision making and ultimately, the actual role/effectiveness of the armed forces within different countries and cultures.

Staff Writer
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