Professor Brenda L Croft

Doctor of Philosophy, UNSW (2021); Honorary Doctorate (Visual Arts), University of Sydney (2009); Alumni Award, UNSW (2001); Master of Art Administration, UNSW (1995)
Professor, Indigenous Art History & Curatorship, Centre for Art History and Art Theory, ANU School of Art and Design
College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Visual Arts And Crafts 1905
  • Lens Based Practice 190503
  • Performance And Installation Art 190504
  • Performing Arts And Creative Writing 1904
  • Other Studies In Creative Arts And Writing 1999

Research interests

Australian First Nations' contemporary visual arts and culture; international First Nations' contemporary visual arts and culture; Critical Indigenous Performative Autoethnography, First Nations Storywork; Critical Indigenous Studies: Indigenous Knowledges; Creative-led research; Cultural representation; Re/memorying; Archives and access.


Brenda L Croft is from the Gurindji/Malngin/Mudburra peoples from the Victoria River region of the Northern Territory of Australia, and Anglo-Australian/German/Irish/Chinese heritage. Brenda is privileged to live and work on the unceded sovereign lands of the Ngambri/Ngunnawal Peoples.

Brenda’s multi-disciplinary practice-led research encompasses critical performative Indigenous auto-ethnography, representation and identity, Indigenous Storying and creative narratives, installation, multi-media and multi-platform work, particularly a in long-standing engagement with patrilineal family and community members, both on traditional homelands and also as part of dispossessed, Gurindji-affiliated communities. Brenda's artistic practice spans four decades.

In 2021 Brenda was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (UNSW), receiving a UNSW Dean's Award for Outstanding Thesis, with her PhD comprising:

  • (Thesis) Kurrwa (stone tool/axehead) to Kartak (container, cup, billycan, pannikin): hand-made/held-ground. An enduring, collaborative, practice-led research journey representing a distinct Australian First Nations Storying/Storywork and First Nations Performative Autoethnography as subalter/N/ative archive and methodology – created from the rememorying, re/imagined standpoint of a Gurindji|Malngin|Mudburra|Anglo-Australian|Chinese|German|Irish woman;
  • (Exhibition) Still in my mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality, a collaborative exhibition in partnership with Karungkarni Art & Culture Aboriginal Corporation, UNSW Galleries, UNSW Art & Design and UQ Art Museum, opened 2017, touring nationally to late 2022. 

In 2021 Brenda received an AIAH Art History Research Grant (Indigenous Australian), for the Semester 2, 2022, OSP (Outside Study Program) project Reimagining the North Australian Expedition 1855-56. She will be conducting practice-led research through site visits, field trips in the NT, and research at the Library and Archive of the Northern Territory.

In 2023 - 24 Brenda will be the Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University, undertaking a placement with the Department of History of Art and Architecture and Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies, engaging with colleagues in the Harvard University Native American Program, and outside the university. 

Other affiliations:

  • ARC Centre of Excellence for The Dynamics of Language (CoEDL), Affiliate (2017 -)
  • Indigenous Australian Dictionary of Biography, Indigenous Working Party member (2019 -)
  • Research Centre for Deep History, School of History, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU, Collaborating Scholar (2020 -) 
  • Visiting Professional Fellow, UNSW Art & Design (2022 -)

Researcher's projects

Artistic/curatorial practice-led research, selected

Artistic practice, selected

Curatorial practice, selected

  • 2017: Still in my mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality, in partnership with UNSW Galleries, UNSW Art + Design; University of Queensland Art Museum; Karungkarni Art + Culture Aboriginal Corporation; with support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. National tour (2018 - 2022) supported by Visions of Australia and Artback NT Touring Agency
  • 2017: A Change is Gonna Come: 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum/25th Anniversary of the Mabo Decision, Senior Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs, National Museum of Australia, 1 December 2016 – 31 May 2017
  • 2015: 'We are in Wonder LAND' Symposium, presented as part of We are in Wonderland: New Experimental art from Central Australia, UNSW Galleries/National Institute of Experimental Arts, UNSW Art + Design. Symposium Mistress of Ceremonies, Q+A Facilitator,15 May; Exhibition Curatorial Advisor
  • 2011: Stop(the)gap/Mind(the)gap: international Indigenous art in motion, Adelaide Film Festival 2011, with Samstag Museum of Art, UniSA and associated venues. Guest curator commissioned by Adelaide Film Festival and Samstag Museum of Art. Lead curator with Megan Tamati-Quennell (Aotearoa/NZ), David Garneau (Canada) and Kathleen Ash-Milby (USA). Artists: Rebecca Belmore (Canada), Dana Claxton (Canada), Nova Paul (Aotearoa/NZ), Alan Michelson (USA), Lisa Reihana (Aotearoa/NZ), Warwick Thornton (Australia). Stop(the)Gap generated extensive media, with high attendances of students, festival visitors and the general public to accompanying associated symposia in 2010 – 11, including Looking Forward/Looking Blak: Indigenous Identity in Australian Cinema, a panel accompanying a film program I curated, with all having a capacity audiences
  • 2007 - 9: National Indigenous Art Triennial: Culture Warriors, National Gallery of Australia, and national tour, 2008; international tour to Katzen Art Center, American University, Washington, DC, USA, 2009
  • 2006 - 8: Michael Riley: sights unseen, National Gallery of Australia, ACT 14 Jul. 2006-16 Oct. 2006, Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill, Vic. 16 Nov. 2006-25 Feb. 2007, Dubbo Regional Gallery, Dubbo and Moree Plains Gallery, Moree, 12 May-8 Jul. 2007, 19 May-15 Jul. respectively, Museum of Brisbane, Qld 27 Jul-19 Nov. 2007, Art Gallery of New South Wales, NSW 22 Feb.-27 Apr. 2008
  • 2002 - 6: First Nations cultural exchange from the federal Government to the French Government, facilitated through the Australia Council for the Arts. The works of the selected artists Ningura Napurrula, Lena Nyadbi, Judy Watson, Gulumbu Yunupingu, John Mawurndjul, Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford, Michael Riley and Tommy Watson were integrated into the facades, ceilings and rooftops of the Musée du quai Branly, designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel during President Chirac’s presidency. Research and development required extensive consultation with the artists in their home communities and studios, high level diplomatic discussions between the Australia Council for the Arts and their French counterpart, site visits to Paris during the building’s construction, extensive liaison between Cracknell Lonergan Architects (on Australia’s behalf) with Jean Nouvel's team and the Musée du quai Branly’s Curatorial team. ‘The French Connection’ (2007), documented the project from concept to realisation
  • 2003: South West Central: Indigenous art from south Western Australia 1833-2002, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Guest curator for the 2003 Perth International Art Festival
  • 2000: Beyond the Pale: contemporary Indigenous art Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Adelaide Festival 2000. Guest Curator
  • 1997 - 9: fluent: Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Yvonne Koolmatrie & Judy Watson Australian Pavilion 47th Venice Biennale, & Australian tour. Curatorial team member with Hetti Perkins & Victoria Lynn for the Art Gallery of NSW. 1997 (Venice), 1998 (Australian tour), see


Available student projects

I am available to supervise students whose research areas include:

  • Australian First Nations art and culture
  • creative-led practice and methodologies
  • critical First Nations performative autoethnography
  • public and personal archives
  • creative narratives, First Nations Storywork
  • identity and representation
  • social justice and self-determination

Current student projects

Supervisory Panel Member, PhD candidates:

Sam Provost, 'Dreaming digital Country: Reframing Indigenous futurity with emergent spatial technologies' 

Maeve Powell, '(Re)Mapping the Academy: using a spatial approach to explore Indigenous belonging at the ANU' (PhD Project working title)

Past student projects

Honours students:

2019 - Matilda Skerritt, Thesis project: Handle With Care: Porcelain in Contemporary Australian First Nations Art Practice. Awarded Kate and Bill Guy Art History and Theory Honours Prize. Supervisor, with Dr Sarah Scott.


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Updated:  13 August 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers