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Working in mixed media sculpture and installation art, Julie Gough focuses on aspects of identity, its testimony, transference and displacement. Born in Melbourne in 1965 Gough is maternally descended from the Trawlwoolway people of north eastern Tasmania. Gough states “my art and research practice involves uncovering and re-presenting stories as part of an ongoing project that questions and re-evaluates the impact of the past on our present lives.” (Artist website, 2007). According to Greg Lehman, “Her work resists the temptation of offering unambiguous signifiers of her Aboriginality. Instead, Gough’s work seeks to engage the audience in a dialogue – to transform the viewer into a participant. She continually questions the mode of representations of Otherness which seduces us into a belief that we 'know’ Aborigines.” In The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, writer Hannah Fink describes Gough’s work as addressing “the trauma at the heart of recent Aboriginal history, in particular of Tasmanian history … her work draws attention to some of the more outrageous chapters of Australian history and of anthropological practice.”
Gough completed a BA degree in Prehistory/Anthropology at the University of Western Australia in 1986 and an interest in the correspondence of cultural heritage, identity, representation and art continues to inform much of Gough’s work. It also aligns with her employment including Interpretation Office Indigenous Culture at the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service Hobart (2000-1), Lecturer in Aboriginal Studies at Riawunna, University of Tasmania, Launceston (2002-3), Curator of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery Victoria 2003-4), Lecturer in Visual Art at James Cook University Townsville (2005-6) and Guest Curator of Tayenebe at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Hobart (2007-8).
Related work includes: Board Member Karadi Aboriginal Women’s Corporation in Berridale, Tasmania 1996; co-judging the annual Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in 2004; co-judging the National Interpretation Awards, Australia in 2004/5/6/7; Tasmanian representative on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council 2003; Board Member Umbrella Studios, Townsville 2006; AIATSIS Member (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) Canberra, 2008.
In 1989 Gough enrolled in an Art Diploma at St Brigids TAFE, Northbridge, Perth and subsequently undertook a B.A Visual Arts degree in 1991 at Curtin University, WA. Graduating in 1993, Gough relocated to Tasmania and the School of Art in Hobart (UTAS) where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours (First Class) degree in 1994. Gough commenced a Masters of Visual Arts Degree, again at UTAS, in 1995. An Anne and Gordon Samstag Scholarship from the University of South Australia saw Gough undertake a Masters degree in Visual Arts at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 1997 – 98. Gough then returned to UTAS to complete her PhD (Visual Arts): Transforming histories: The visual disclosure of contentious pasts in 2001. Post studies, Gough has undertaken artist residencies in Tasmania (Wilderness Residency, Arts Tasmania, 2001), New York (Greene St Studio, Australia Council for the Arts, 2002), Paris (Rosamund McCulloch Studio, Cité Internationale des Artes, 2002) and Mauritius (Mahatma Gandhi Institute, volunteer sculpture lecturer, Moka, Commonwealth Arts and Craft Award, 2001-2)
Gough’s first major exhibiting opportunity was 'Perspecta 1995’, curated by Judy Annear, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The work Medical Series, subsequently acquired by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, investigated the supposed physical markers of race. That same year Gabrielle Pizzi invited Gough to exhibit in Melbourne for the first time in the exhibition 'New Voices – New Directions’. Since that initial group exhibition Gough has held solo exhibitions at Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi on five occasions: 'Heartland’, 2001, 'Re-collection’, 1997, 'Dark Secrets/Home Truths’, 1996, 'Intertidal’, 2005 and 'Musselroe Bay’, 2007.
Since 1994 Julie Gough has exhibited in over 80 exhibitions nationally and internationally. The inaugural Liverpool Biennale, UK 'Trace’, 1999, curated by Tony Bond (AGNSW) was Gough’s first overseas exhibiting experience. The process of uncovering lives of Liverpool’s 18th and 19th century orphan children for the work home SWEET home encouraged Gough’s ongoing exploration of histories locally rendered indistinct. In 2003 Gough exhibited Transmutation in Outside Inside: Fragments of Place at Brigham Young University in Utah, USA, where she represented the experience of alienation in time, place, culture by staging an otherworldly abduction scene.
In 2006 Gough exhibited in the Tamworth Textile Biennale and the Biennale of Sydney. Both resulting artworks, Navigator and Locus, were representations of canoe-crafts as metaphors for the impossible desire to return through time and space to an earlier, pre-colonial Tasmania. In 2005 and 2006, while located in Townsville, increasing exhibition opportunities converged with the award of an Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship, and two State Library Fellowships (Tasmania and Victoria). These precipitated travel, research, artist residencies and exhibitions around Australia from early 2006 through 2008 and enabled Gough’s return to live in Tasmania. In 2007 and 2008 Gough held solo exhibitions at venues outside of Melbourne for the first time: 'The Ranger’ at the South Australian School of Art Gallery, 'Interrupted – Renditions of unresolved accounts’ at Turner Galleries, Perth, and, 'Fugitive History’ at Bett Gallery, Hobart. Key group exhibitions in 2007 were 'Power and Beauty: Indigenous Art Now’, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria, 'An Other Place’, Long Gallery, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart, and, 'Thresholds of Tolerance’, ANU School of Art Gallery, Canberra.
Gough also writes and speaks about art and identity and in 2007 “We walked on a carpet of stars” a film on Gough’s art practice was launched by Creative Cowboy films in Melbourne.
Gough’s work is represented in the collections in a number of state and national collections around Australia.