Brenda Louise Croft Receives Honorary Degree of Doctor of Visual Arts

Brenda Croft

The degree of Doctor of Visual Arts (honoris causa) was conferred upon Brenda Louise Croft at the Sydney College of the Arts graduation ceremony held on Wednesday 6 April, 2009. Croft, who gave the occasional address during the graduation ceremony, has made an outstanding contribution to the visual arts, both as a practitioner and curator.

Active since the mid-1980s, she embodies the engaged artist, producing work of great aesthetic subtlety and strength that also contains strong messages about social justice and indigenous culture and history.

Born in Perth in 1964, Croft is of the Gurindji people, from Daguragu/Limbunya in the Northern Territory. She completed a year of study in the Bachelor of Visual Arts in Photography, at SCA in 1985 and has been exhibiting since 1986. Her work ranges across photography, mixed media installation and performance. Croft uses the camera to take control of her self-image and representation of Aboriginals. In 1988, her work was included in the touring exhibitions, Inside Black Australia and Photography: Recent Acquisitions at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Marie and Brenda

Along with nine other indigenous artists, she was a founding member of the Boomali Aboriginal Artists’ Co-operative in Sydney. She was employed as the General Manager of Boomali, from 1990 to 1996 and was a member of the National Museum of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee. Croft’s work is held in major state and federal collections in Australia, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artbank and the National Gallery.

Croft’s work has been displayed in major art institutions, including the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney; the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and AFRICUS: The Johannesburg Biennale.

Colin and Brenda

Croft’s work has featured in international exhibitions, including the 1996 international touring exhibition Abstracts: New Aboriginalities. She has contributed to the community through various capacities through Radio Redfern and Radio Skid Row. In 1998 she was awarded the Indigenous Arts Fellowship from the NSW Ministry for the Arts.

Croft also publishes widely on the arts, and is a freelance artist, curator, writer and lecturer. She has been Curator of Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, and until last year was Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia. She is currently Lecturer at the Unaipon School, at the University of South Australia.

Brenda Croft is an extraordinary individual who is widely respected among the art and broader community. She has left a significant mark on Australian art and the indigenous community.

Images: (top to bottom) Dr Brenda Croft; the Chancellor of the University of Sydney and Governor of NSW, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO and Dr Brenda Croft; Dean of SCA, Professor Colin Rhodes and Dr Brenda Croft.
Photographer: Ted Sealey