Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial (RRM) is a visual arts research project that concerns the Australian frontier wars and the possibility of representing the magnitude of Indigenous loss and survival in a national memorial. This is an Australia Research Council grant.

Research Plan

In Australia, the lack of visibility in the public sphere to the Frontier Wars and Indigenous loss and survival is an issue that has been paramount for several decades. There is much to be learnt from international examples of memorials to genocide and state violence and the ideas and issues that both inform these examples and are generated by them. There is also a wealth of activity happening in Australia at a grassroots level that addresses this need for memorialisation including sustained community activity at former massacre sites, repatriation projects, and actions to remember warriors of Aboriginal resistance. There are also many important artworks made since the 1980s that have been the subject of major exhibitions and permanent display in galleries.

Key to this project is taking a comparative approach to consider this issue from different perspectives and to link local and international memorial practices. This approach will generate new parameters for discussion and action, which will assist in developing a visual language and practice that can address the magnitude of Indigenous loss and survival.


The aims of Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial are:

  • to reveal how the scarcity of memorials in Australia to the frontier wars and Indigenous loss and survival is an anomaly in the international memorial landscape that requires attention;

  • acknowledge the important function of memorials as a strategy for national remembrance and healing for all Australians; and

  • advance the discussion about the remembrance and representation of Indigenous loss and survival by developing a set of principles for memorial projects that draws on international examples but also addresses national and local issues.


We will be interviewing people whose work and lives are dedicated to remembering traumatic histories and activating discussion and public visibility. Experts include Aboriginal elders, community leaders, artists, architects and scholars both in Australia and overseas. These interviews will be recorded and become part of future publications and artworks.

Over the course of the project we will visit key sites across the world where histories of genocide, fascism, frontier violence and atrocities have been publicly commemorated. Sites include: Myall Creek, Australia; Memorial stupa, Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre and Tuol Sleng, Cambodia; Memorial to the Murdered Jews, Germany; Sand Creek Massacre Historic Site, United States; and the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, Vienna.



In 2018 we will be holding a five-day forum in Melbourne, Australia, with a core group of international and Australian delegates with backgrounds in art, architecture, visual culture, design, and community action, and with expertise in memorial projects. Please see the dedicated page for more information.



Our research activities will produce a number of outcomes including:

  • a set of principles for future memorial projects to Indigenous loss and survival;

  • a collective of Australian and international people working to memorialise traumatic histories;

  • publications and artworks; and

  • a public exhibition of research findings including artworks, architectural drawings and interview transcripts.