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This workshop considers how text and language can operate as a drawing mode – with a focus on intertextual relations of place, in particular Australia’s histories of colonisation, incarceration, and institutionalisation.

You will be able to book tickets from 9:30am on Friday 5 February.
Lecturers: Carolyn Mckenzie-Craig and Justine Youssef
Location: Studio 26-3 at NAS and Cockatoo Island/Wareamah

Participants will develop strategies to create a series of works or one large work that consider how text (or textualities) may perform as a tool to develop new drawing modes or intervene with existing practices. Research will be archived in small artist books that will accompany the work students develop.

Projects will be developed from an initial site visit to Cockatoo Island/Wareamah where direct research processes such as video, sound, drawing and writing exercises will be used to consider the complex histories of the site.

Cockatoo Island /Wareamah presents a unique site to consider spatial, political and historical relationships to place. The island was originally a meeting place and fishing spot for the Eora Nation and called Wareamah. After invasion, the island was used as a convict re-offender prison (1839-1869), which evolved to hold general offenders, mostly poor. During this time grain silos and a dry dock for ship repairs were built, and the island was deforested. It then evolved into a boys and girls home, and a Naval Dockyard.

These complex histories will be considered in relation to its current heritage listing where it is used for recreational ‘glamping’ and a site for contemporary arts practice during the Sydney Biennale. This juxtaposition of contemporary art venue, historical violence (colonisation, penality and deforestation) and industrialisation (ship building) offers unique textual possibilities, in particular with the enormous archival records available to students.

Possible outcomes may include but are not restricted to:

Text works or works that respond to text
Artist books or publications
Sound or video works
Interventions in archives
Mind maps as drawings
Narrative as drawing

Joseph Beuys, Actionpiece, 1972

Artists to consider:

Forensic Architecture
Lucas Ihlein
Katie Paterson
A Published Event
Karla Dickens
Katrina Palmer
Robert Andrew
Martin Smith
Tony Albert
Renée Green
Glen Ligon
Jacqui Shelton
Megan Cope

First Nations on Cockatoo Island
Convict Cockatoo
Forensic Architecture – site as practice
Ursula K. Le Guin – Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction
Katrina Palmer – End Matter, audio work


Currently based on unceded Darug Land, Justine Youssef makes work that is site-responsive, attentive to her origins in South-West Asia, and focuses on moments and places that reconfigure authoritative realities.

Justine Youssef, an other’s Wurud (2017 – ongoing). Photo documentation of scent based performance work at BLIDESIDE, Melbourne.

Carolyn Craig is an artist who teaches at the National Art School in Sydney. Her work examines how social systems are inscribed and performed upon the body. Carolyn has been a finalist in the Churchie, Freemantle, Burnie, Adelaide Perry, JOGJA Contemporary and Bangkok Drawing and Print Triennial.

Carolyn Mckenzie-Craig Words between bodies, 2020, laser etched wood and 3d printed Swear words.