Image: Siobhan L Campbell
Siobhan in Kamasan, Bali, 2010
- Siobhan Campbell
- © Siobhan Campbell
Siobhan has a long-term interest in the culture of Indonesia, beginning in 1989 when she first began to study the Indonesian language. With an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies from the University of New South Wales, she worked as a translator and interpreter with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor and later as a Liaison Officer with the Indonesian Consulate General in Sydney. She currently teaches in the Indonesian Studies program at the University of Sydney.
In 2013 Siobhan completed her PhD thesis on the Australian Museum’s Anthony Forge Collection of Balinese Kamasan Art in which she examined the relationship between Forge’s collecting process and current art practices in Bali. She commenced her research in 2009 as part of the Australian Research Council Linkage Project: 'Understanding Balinese Paintings: Collections, Narrative, Aesthetics and Society' conducted by the University of Sydney with various partners, including the Australian Museum.
Siobhan’s thesis describes the intercultural exchange between people and the circulation of art as a commodity. It also examines how artists responded to Forge's collecting project – including the economic and social values it represented. Forge’s research stimulated the market for Kamasan paintings and influenced artistic production. His patronage of artists played a role in local articulations of status and prestige.
The paintings in the Forge Collection are a significant subject of an academic discourse about art as a system of visual communication and its links to oral story-telling traditions. Siobhan found that paintings circulate between religious and commercial contexts without apparent contradiction. The circulation of paintings within different markets does not affect how artists define the parameters of traditional practice.
Kamasan art is regarded as ‘traditional’ despite innovations in materials, techniques of production and the narratives depicted. This has vital implications for the older and newer collections of Kamasan art. Siobhan advocates a model for an ongoing relationship between the Australian Museum and Kamasan artists based on visual documentation methodologies.
In September 2013 Siobhan will commence a six-month fellowship at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden, the Netherlands to pursue further research on the collections of Balinese art. She intends to examine further the history of collecting Balinese paintings and the cultural practices surrounding Balinese material culture.