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Art lecturer shares perspective on progress

By Louise Errington

Visual Arts lecturer and postgraduate student John Dahlsen presented his research findings at the 2013 Perspectives on Progress conference in Brisbane Visual Arts lecturer and postgraduate student John Dahlsen presented his research findings at the 2013 Perspectives on Progress conference in Brisbane

An internationally recognised artist presented research findings about the impacts of the global financial crisis on marginalised artists at a conference in Brisbane.

CDU Visual Arts Lecturer and postgraduate student John Dahlsen’s research explores how social progress offers opportunities to marginalised artists, such as environmental artists like him, operating within globalised economies.

Mr Dahlsen said these opportunities included economic viability and a reduction of financial stress.

“Environmental art plays an important role in society because this work can create positive shifts in perception about environmental transformation,” Mr Dahlsen said.

“Marginalised art professionals experienced severe career disruptions during the recent global financial crisis. Many lost their jobs or were forced to compromise their creativity in order to survive in uncertain economic times.”

Mr Dahlsen said that our cultural future must be guided by artists freed from financial constrictions, who chose not to mass-produce art, and were not compromised in creating serious work.

CDU Pro Vice-Chancellor Law, Education, Business and Arts Professor Giselle Byrnes gave a keynote address, entitled “Past, present and progress: settling history in Australia and New Zealand”, at the Perspectives on Progress conference, held at the University of Queensland from 27 – 29 November 2013.

Mr Dahlsen’s presentation at the conference was followed by the release of his first book, “An Artist’s Guide to a Successful Career”, which shares the secrets of his success and aims to spell the end of the ‘starving artist’ stereotype.

“I have been lucky to have had a successful career, and wanted to share my knowledge with others pursuing a career in the arts,” Mr Dahlsen said.

Having his works shown in more than 200 exhibitions, Mr Dahlsen has amassed a great deal of experience during his 30-year career. He won the Wynne prize at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2000 and his art represented Australia at the Athens Olympic Games.

His main medium is found plastic beach litter, which allows him to focus on environmental issues. He has worked with various environmental initiatives, including Clean Up Australia and World Environment Day.