It’s absurd to pretend that we are or ever have been no more than exiled Europeans … forever condemned to inhabit some irrelevant, Antipodean limbo.’ This statement encapsulates Joan Kerr’s determination to rewrite established codes of Australian art history and to expand the lexicon of its cultural heritage. If an egalitarian consensus of colonial cultural creativity were to be achieved, Joan Kerr (1938–2004) was the woman for this herculean job. She turned encyclopedic compilations of lists and facts, comprehensively researched by teams of dedicated assistants led by her, into large-bound reality. This is her legacy. But the route taken, the victories and struggles she encountered, are also legendary.
Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR. We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, click 'Sign In' in the top left-hand corner of the screen. If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.