DESIGN Canberra festival announces program of symposiums and talks exploring the design identity of Australia’s capital

Margel-Hinder-Sculptured-Form-1970-photo-by-5-Foot-PhotographyDESIGN Canberra festival has announced a selection of talks and symposiums exploring Canberra’s unique connection to design and how this will inform the future of the capital.

Responding to the festival’s theme of Transformation, the three events will take place between Saturday 29 October and Saturday 5 November, with artists, curators and experts offering insight into Canberra’s rich design landscape.

The full festival line-up will run from Wednesday 2 – Sunday 20 November with over 32 talks and symposiums spanning the themes of public art in Canberra, First Nations artists in public art and legacy arts in relation to Canberra city, in addition to tours, exhibitions, art installations, open studios and workshops.

Taking place on Saturday 29 October, DISCOVER – PUBLIC ART IN CANBERRA brings together diverse voices of artists, curators, designers and creative producers all working at the powerful but complex intersection of art in public space.

Marking the final weekend of the Canberra Art Biennale and the opening weekend of DESIGN Canberra, this major symposium will span three talks titled: First Nations Artists in Public Art | Context and Contemporaneity and How to Succeed in Public Art.

First Nations Artists in Public Art provides insight from First Nations artist, Paul House, whose work Scar Tree will appear in Canberra’s City Centre for the duration of the festival, alongside Kauri Hawkins, who discusses his art practice in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Context and Contemporaneity: Legacy artworks and how they mark the city will be led by curators Virginia Rigney, Cassie Plate and Elanor Clayton and discuss the significance of public artworks by women artists, Margel Hinder, Margo Lewers and Barbara Hepworth, which line Canberra’s streets.

Brett Stone and Sonja Van der Harr, artists who have made new pieces in response to the legacies of this period for both festivals, will also discuss their work.

Facilitated by DESIGN Canberra Festival Director and visual artist, Jodie Cunningham, How to succeed in public art: Knowledge transfer and role of mentors, showcases the work of artists and mentors who have worked on public art projects for both the urban and health environments, with a panel comprising DISCOVER Trail Project Manager Moraig Mckenna and artist Rosie Armstrong.

Textile artist Annie Trevillian and curator Jennifer McFarlane will discuss the complex process of developing work for the Canberra Hospital environment.

On Friday 4 November, DESIGN Canberra presents DESIGN THINKING, LEARNING AND MAKING IN CANBERRA: LEGACIES AND NEW INITIATIVES, in collaboration with Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG) and The Australian National University, examining the work of both established and emerging local artists across two sessions.

The event will explore Canberra’s status as the recognised city of “making” excellence, with a discussion on design thinking, learning and making in Canberra, with artists in the fields of glass, jewellery and object design, to explore both recent histories and current practices.

Session One focuses on the work of critically acclaimed Canberra-based artists Blanche Tilden and Tom Moore, who are represented with major survey exhibitions at CMAG. In conversation with Geelong Gallery Director and CEO, Jason Smith, Blanche and Tom will reveal their vision, influences and the inspirations that drive their practice.

Session Two, chaired by artist Dr Erica Secombe, brings us into the present with emerging artists Bronwyn Sargeson, Elliot Bastianon and winner of the 2022 Robert Foster Award, Jonathan Zalakos. Tickets include exhibition viewing, drinks and 20% off at the Festival Hub Shop from 5 – 6pm on 4 November.

Supported by Alistair Swayn Foundation, TRANSFORMING CANBERRA will be held on Saturday 5 November and aims to explore Canberra as a city of perpetual transformation, reflecting on the history and influences behind the designed city’s architecture. It will also look forward to explore the societal factors that will inform the development of the capital in years to come.

Elizabeth Farrelly, keynote speaker, architecture critic and author of Killing Sydney will be joined by a panel of experts comprising Chief Executive of the City Renewal Authority, Malcolm Snow; Director of Molonglo Group, Johnathan (Yianni) Efkarpidis; Canberra Museum & Gallery Senior Curator, Virginia Rigney and Salon Canberra Managing Director, Catherine Carter.

“These talks and symposiums will generate critical debate about design futures in our city, celebrate the significant legacies of Canberra artists and designers and look at the importance of public art in creating vibrant cities and connecting with our community,” said Jodie Cunningham, CEO + Artistic Director, Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre.

DESIGN Canberra festival continues to 20 November 2022. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Margel Hinder, Sculptured Form, 1970 – photo by 5 Foot Photography