Janine Burke

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Janine Burke
Born (1952-03-02) 2 March 1952 (age 62)
Melbourne, Australia
Occupation Writer, art historian, curator.
Nationality Australian
Alma mater University of Melbourne, LaTrobe University, Deakin University

Janine Burke (born 2 March 1952 in Melbourne, Australia) is an author, art historian, biographer and award-winning novelist. She also curates exhibitions of historical and contemporary art. Currently, Dr Burke is Adjunct Lecturer, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University and Honorary Senior Fellow, Victorian College of the Arts, the University of Melbourne.

Education and career[edit]

Burke graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons). In 1986 she was awarded a Master of Arts at  LaTrobe University, and a PhD from Deakin University in 2002.

In 1973, Burke began publishing art criticism and, the following year, co-curated "A Room of One's Own: Three Women Artists", perhaps Australia's first feminist art exhibition. In 1975, she curated "Australian Women Artists: 1840-1940" which became a bestselling book in 1980. The same year she was a founding member of the Victorian Women's Art Movement. In 1976, she was a founding member of the feminist arts journal Lip. From 1977-1982, she lectured in art history at the Victorian College of the Arts. She resigned to become a professional writer and independent scholar.

In 1983, after the publication of Joy Hester, Burke was a writer-in-residence at Paretiao, Tuscany, a house belonging to Australian artist Arthur Boyd. At that time, it was administered by the Australia Council. There she completed her first novel, Speaking, and began her next novel, Second Sight, which won the 1987 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for fiction. She then moved to Florence where she studied Italian at the British Institute. In 1984, she lived in Paris, returning to Australia for the publication of Speaking. For a time, Burke lived in Sydney and rural St. Andrews in Victoria, before travelling in France, Italy and Greece. In 1986, she was a writer-in-residence in Hobart and in 1989 at the University of New England, Armidale. She had settled in Robe Street, St Kilda, in 1986 where Joy Hester and Albert Tucker had lived in the 1940s. She continued to write novels and short stories, as well as contributing art criticism and reviews to journals and newspapers. She has been an advisory editor to art and literary journals including Meanjin, Island, Art and Australia and Imprint. She has judged literary awards, including the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship and The Age Book of the Year award, and between 1994-1997, she was a member of the programming committee of the Melbourne Writers Festival. 

Albert Tucker, helpful to Burke when she was writing Joy Hester, also lived in St Kilda and the two resumed their friendship. In 1995, Burke published Dear Sun: The Letters of Joy Hester and Sunday Reed, the correspondence between Hester and arts patron Sunday Reed. Reed, Hester's closest friend, adopted Hester's son, Sweeney. In 1981, Sunday and John Reed's home and their art collection became the Heide Museum of Modern Art. When Burke was a lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts, Sweeney, an artist and a former gallery director, was a mature age student in the printmaking department. Sweeney assisted Burke with her research on Hester. In 1979, Sweeney committed suicide.

In 1996, Burke was appointed a trustee of Heide MoMA, a position she held until 2005. Burke's biography of Tucker, written with Tucker's approval, ran into strife prior to its publication in 2002. Tucker died in 1999 without reading the manuscript. Australian Gothic, A Life of Albert Tucker was Burke's doctoral dissertation and the first biography of Tucker. Tucker's widow, Barbara, objected to some of Burke's views about Tucker and refused to allow copyright permission to reproduce his paintings. The book was illustrated with Tucker's photographs not subject to copyright. In 1998, Burke had curated the first major exhibition of Tucker's photographs, titled The Eye of the Beholder: Albert Tucker's Photographs which toured nationally. In a controversial aspect of the book, Burke wrote it was unlikely that Sweeney was the son of Albert Tucker, but rather of well-known Melbourne drummer Billy Hyde (1918–1976). Burke based her comments on conversations with Tucker, Sweeney, Gray Smith (Hester's second husband)and Nadine Amadio, a close friend of Sunday Reed's. In late 2001, when the row about the book hit the headlines, Ken Fletcher, chairman of the Heide board, asked Burke to resign. It was believed that the Tucker Gift to Heide MoMA, administered by Tucker's widow, was in jeopardy.[1] The gift was worth several million dollars and comprised works by Tucker, Hester, Boyd, Sidney Nolan and Danila Vassilieff. Burke refused to leave the board and the Tucker Gift went ahead.

In The Heart Garden: Sunday Reed and Heide (2004) Burke wrote that Reed had assisted Nolan in painting the Ned Kelly series. Burke based her theory on the close collaborative relationship Reed and Nolan enjoyed, evidenced by archival research, and by Nolan's watercolour  For the one who paints such beautiful squares (c.1946-1947, Heide MoMA) that is dedicated to Sunday. Currently, Burke is consultant to a film project about Heide based on her books with producer Richard Keddie.

After visiting the Freud Museum London where Sigmund Freud's art collection of over 2000 antiquities is housed, Burke wrote The Gods of Freud: Sigmund Freud's Art Collection (2006) which was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Award. In 2007, with the co-operation of Freud Museum London, she curated "An Archaeology of the Mind: Sigmund Freud's Art Collection" for Monash University Museum of Art and the Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney. Currently, she is researching "Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing", an exhibition for the Freud Museum London to take place in October 2014.

In 2011, Burke held her first photography exhibition, Personal View: Photographs 1978-1986, at VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne. A book of the same name was published by Monash University Publishing to coincide with the exhibition.

Burke's most recent book, Nest: The Art of Birds (Allen&Unwin 2012) was the subject of an exhibition at McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park, Langwarrin, Victoria in 2013.

Awards, nominations and competitive grants[edit]

  • 2009 - 2013 Monash Research Fellowship, Monash University.
  • Shortlisted 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award for Non-fiction The Gods of Freud: Sigmund Freud's Art Collection.
  • Shortlisted 2003 Queensland Premier's Award for Non-Fiction Australian Gothic: A Life of Albert Tucker.
  • 2001 New Work Grant, Literature Board, Australia Council.
  • 1993 Category A Fellowship, Literature Board, Australia Council.
  • Shortlisted 1990 The Miles Franklin Award,Company of Images.
  • Shortlisted 1990 The Age Book of the Year Award, Company of Images.
  • Winner 1987 Victorian Premier's Literary Award, Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction Second Sight.
  • 1986 Category B Fellowship, Australia Council Literature Board.
  • 1984 Literature Board grant, Australia Council.
  • 1983 Australia Council residency, 'Paretiao', Arthur Boyd home/studio, Tuscany.
  • 1982 Project Grant, Visual Arts Board, Australia Council.
  • 1976 Travel Grant, Visual Arts Board, Australia Council.

Bibliography[edit]

Non-fiction[edit]

  • Australian Women Artists: 1840-1940 (1980)
  • Joy Hester (1983:revised and republished 2001)
  • Field of Vision, A Decade of Change: Women's Art in the Seventies (1990)
  • Dear Sun: The Letters of Joy Hester and Sunday Reed [Ed.](1995)
  • The Eye of the Beholder: Albert Tucker's Photographs (1998)
  • Australian Gothic: A Life of Albert Tucker (2002)
  • The Heart Garden: Sunday Reed and Heide (2004)
  • The Gods of Freud: Sigmund Freud's Art Collection (2006) [ published in the US as The Sphinx on the Table: Sigmund Freud's Art Collection and the Development of Psychoanalysis]
  • Sigmund Freud's Art Collection: An Archaeology of the Mind [Ed.] (2007)
  • Source: Nature's Healing Role in Art and Writing (2009)
  • Personal View: Photographs 1978 - 1986 (2011) with an essay by Anne Marsh
  • Nest: The Art of Birds (2012)

Fiction (adult)[edit]

  • Speaking (1984)
  • Second Sight (1986)
  • Company of Images (1989)
  • Lullaby (1994)

Fiction (young adult)[edit]

  • Journey to Bright Water (1994)
  • The Blue Faraway (1996)
  • The Doll (1997)
  • Our Lady of Apollo Bay (2001)

Exhibitions curated[edit]

  • A Room of One's Own : Three Women Artists (1974: co-curated with Kiffy Rubbo and Lynne Cook) Ewing Gallery, University of Melbourne.
  • Australian Women Artists, One Hundred Years, 1840-1940 (1975) Ewing Gallery and George Paton Galleries, University of Melbourne; Art Gallery of NSW; Newcastle Region Art Gallery; Art Gallery of South Australia.
  • Still Lives: Eight Women Realists (1978) Victorian College of the Arts Gallery, Melbourne.
  • Lost and Found: Objects and Images (1979) Ewing Gallery and George Paton Galleries, University of Melbourne.
  • Self-Portrait, Self-Image (1980) Victorian College of the Arts Gallery, Melbourne and tour.
  • Bea Maddock: Survey Show (1980) National Gallery of Victoria.
  • Joy Hester (1981) National Gallery of Victoria.
  • The Eye of the Beholder: Albert Tucker's Photographs (1998) Heide Museum of Modern Art and tour.
  • Sunday Reed and Heide (2004) Heide Museum of Modern Art.
  • An Archaeology of the Mind: Sigmund Freud's Art Collection (2007–2008) Monash University Museum of Art; Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney.
  • Nest: The Art of Birds. (2013) McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park, Langwarrin.

Exhibitions[edit]

  • Personal View: Photographs 1978-1986, Margaret Lawrence VCA Gallery, Melbourne, 20 May–11 June 2011.

Collections[edit]

Burke's photographs are held in the following collections:

  • Heide Museum of Modern Art
  • Monash Gallery of Art
  • Monash University Museum of Art
  • National Gallery of Australia Research Library

Burke's papers are held in the following collections:

  • Australian Manuscripts, State Library of Victoria
  • National Library of Australia

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Coslovich, Gabriella (22 February 2002). "$10 million gift still on". The Age. "The Heide Museum of Modern Art looks certain to receive Albert and Barbara Tucker's $10 million art gift despite concerns that the bequest might be withheld if the late artist's biographer Janine Burke remained on the Heide board."

References[edit]

  • Debra Adelaide, Australian women writers: a bibliographic guide, London, Pandora, 1988.
  • Roberta Buffi, Between Literature and Painting: Three Australian Women Writers, Peter Lang, New York, 2002.