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Art & politics



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Politics has always provoked a response in artists; many see the creation of their work as an expressly political act. But what is the true nature of the link between art and the political machinations of the day – and is it a two-way street? When artists respond to governmental politics, does it have an impact in the corridors of power, or does it serve merely as a means of venting frustration? Do satire and comedy have a more immediate effect?

For three decades, artist Deborah Kelly has been creating a body of mixed-media work that challenges notions of discrimination in all its forms, while Indigenous visual artist Fiona Foley has always explored the tensions between race, sex, politics and history. Cartoonist First Dog on the Moon tackles the hot political issues of the day in his satirical columns in the Guardian and elsewhere.

Our guests discuss the idea of creating work that is not only political in nature, but has that the potential to force politicians to sit up and take notice. How, then, does the world of politics respond to such art?

A good event starts great conversations. Here’s your chance to stay back a while and
meet the guest speakers. Nibbles provided. Drinks at bar prices.

Art & us

The nature and meaning of art has been hotly debated for centuries, but in this new series for 2014, the Wheeler Centre explores the impact of art in a variety of contexts. We look at how artistic practice fits in to the many diverse aspects of everyday life, as well as how its context has a direct effect on the realms of inspiration and creation.


Anni Davey

Anni Davey is a freelance director and teacher of physical theatre and circus based in Melbourne. She is Chair of ACAPTA (Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Association). She has enjoyed a long professional relationship with Circus Oz – including as a performer for many years, and most recentl... Read more

Fiona Foley

Dr Fiona Foley is from the Wondunna clan of the Badtjala nation. Foley exhibits regularly in Australia and internationally. In 2014 she was the recipient of an Australia Council Visual Arts Award. She is a regular keynote speaker at conferences and symposia all over the world. Most recently she conv... Read more

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly is a Sydney-based artist whose works have been shown in streets, skies, cinemas and galleries.

Her work across media is concerned with lineages of representation, politics and history in public exchange. She is represented by Gallery Barry Keldoulis.

First Dog on the Moon

First Dog on the Moon is the internationally renowned, Walkley Award-winning and also very humble cartoonist for the Guardian Australia. First Dog’s latest collection, A Treasury of Cartoons, has just been released and is really quite good. ... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.