Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Communications and Arts


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Supervisor

Dr Nicola Kaye

Second Supervisor

Dr Christopher Crouch


This thesis provides a contextual analysis of my creative practice as a visual artist. An overview of the social and historical relationships of the individual in societal organisations, and in relation to what Stuart Hall refers to as tendential lines of force, the dominant structures of religion and the state (Hall, 1996), set the context for a selfreflexive analysis of my practice. In carrying out a contextual analysis of my practice, it is the intention of this thesis to map a context by which Australian national identity is manufactured. This context is the hegemonic processes that seek to maintain a cultural and political dominance using systems of representation and symbolic power to do so. I have framed this subject against the United Nations as an international body with which the nation-state needs to negotiate. This thesis draws on the debates surrounding the history wars in Australia under the former Howard government, with particular reference to the Australian War Memorial and the National Museum Australia, and their particular responses to the histories of frontier warfare. The significations of state power on Anzac Day are examined, as are the state embodied mechanisms that have censored the representation of Australia’s history. This is supported by a visual register of historical images from the archives of various state libraries depicting frontier violence in Australia over the first 160 years of European settlement. This thesis is supported by visual documentation of my exhibition Signing Off on the State held at the Fremantle Arts Centre in 2005. Seminal texts I have referred to are; Pierre Bordieu’s Language and symbolic power (1991), Stuart Hall, Critical dialogues in cultural studies (1996), Adolpho Sanchez Vazquez Art and Society: Essays in Marxist aesthetics (1973), John Connor’s The Australian frontier wars (2002), and Mckernan and Browne, Australia – two centuries of war and peace (1988).