Sir William Dobell Chair and Fellows for 2024 announced

From top left across (top line): Kate Fullagar, Helen Hughes, Andrew Yip (bottom line): Ginevra Addis, Tobias Teutenberg, Gloria Bell, Penelope Jackson
Monday 20 May 2024

In 2023 the Centre for Art History and Art Theory in the ANU School of Art & Design established a new fellowship scheme to increase the impact of the Dobell endowment to support the research of art historians and curators at all stages of their careers. Each year one position known as the Sir William Dobell Visiting Chair and up to four positions known as the Sir William Dobell Visiting Fellow are awarded.

We are excited to announce that the inaugural Sir William Dobell Chair and Fellows, and their projects are:


Professor Kate Fullagar FAHA
Australian Catholic University

As the Visiting Sir William Dobell Chair, Kate Fullagar will be working on two inter-related research projects. The first highlights the neglected eleven portraits of non-Europeans painted in the eighteenth century by Sir Joshua Reynolds – an artist more commonly associated with the heroes of imperial plunder. The second project delves into the ongoing furore around the now most famous Reynolds work of all – his portrait of the Pacific Islander Mai (1775). Recently acquired by both the British government and the Getty, this piece demands continued research into the spectre of empire in eighteenth-century art but also into the politics of contemporary art markets. It will involve a workshop at ANU in October 2024 entitled, ‘British art, Pacific subjects, Contemporary values: The Modern Saga and Forgotten History of Reynolds’ Mai Portrait,’ featuring keynote Samoan art historian Peter Brunt.


Ginevra Addis, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow, UNIMIB, Milan, Italy

Ginevra Addis seeks to investigate the relationship between biodiversity and contemporary art within the context of art museums in and around Canberra. By focusing on these institutions, which play a crucial role in shaping cultural narratives, the study aims to unravel how artists contribute to the discourse on biodiversity. This project’s objectives are: To analyze the representation of biodiversity in contemporary art within the collections of art museums in Canberra; To investigate the role of these institutions in promoting environmental awareness through contemporary art exhibitions; To explore the potential for collaboration between museums, and artists, in fostering a deeper understanding of biodiversity. This project’s methodology will be the following: 1. Literature review. 2. In-depth interviews with museum curators and art historians on the convergence of the role of contemporary art and biodiversity. 3. Surveys to museum visitors/gallery visitors to gauge the impact of art on their environmental awareness.

Dr Gloria Bell
Assistant Professor, McGill, Montreal

My research will explore Indigenous activism in the 1920s centering around the life of Anthony Fernando, an Aboriginal activist. This research departs from my book project Eternal Sovereigns that explores the Anima Mundi collection of stolen Indigenous art at the Vatican Ethnology Museum and the history of the 1925 Vatican Missionary Exposition (VME). Fernando protested the genocide of First Peoples and leafleted visitors who attended the 1925 VME. I want to pursue what his experiences at the exhibition might have been like. I am interested in thinking about Indigenous art and activism in Australia and globally for Indigenous communities. I also plan to create a series of short stories and images about Indigenous experiences at the Venice Biennale drawing on my own experiences in Venice as a member of the Canadian Indigenous Curatorial Delegation. I will reflect on the presence of Indigenous Curatorial Delegations at the Venice Biennale, and the longer history and visibility of Indigenous artists at global exhibitions.

Dr Helen Hughes
Senior Lecturer, Monash University

Helen Hughes is currently researching and writing a book about art and the history of convict transportation from Great Britain and Ireland to Australia between 1797 and 1868. Convict artists were one of the largest groups of artists working in the early decades of the penal colonies in Australia. Convicts often produced art as part of their sentence, whether that meant working for the government or indentured as a servant to a free settler. Yet art-historical accounts of the early colonial period tend to lump convict artists in with professional, scientific, and amateur naval artists, failing to theorise the highly specific conditions in which convicts produced their work. While convicts were, in many respects, victims of British penal colonialism, emancipated convicts often received or bought land grants and otherwise participated in the colonisation of Australia and the dispossession of its sovereign Indigenous custodians. As this book shows, convict artists both documented and facilitated the colonisation of this land. While Helen is a Sir William Dobell Visiting Fellow at ANU, she will undertake research at the National Library of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Royal Australian Mint.

Dr Penelope Jackson
Adjunct Research Associate, Charles Sturt University

As of March 2024, Sir William Dobell’s painting The White Horse Inn, Dorking is listed on the FBI’s National Stolen Art File and his work, The (Not Quite) Landlord, is on Interpol’s list of missing art. These are just two of several missing Dobell works which does not bode well for one of Australia’s most revered artists, and yet showcases the gravity to which Dobell’s work has been the victim of art crime. Additionally, Dobell’s work has been copied for legitimate reasons and some illicitly. In fact, there is a catalogue of his work that has been stolen, forged, sold fraudulently and vandalised. In short, Dobell is a textbook case for art crime and Penelope Jackson’s findings will be presented in a chapter of my book that I’m currently writing about aspects of Australian art that are normally excluded from its art history, ostensibly crime and copying.

Dr Tobias Teutenberg
Research Assistant, Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome

The aim of Tobias Teutenberg’s project is to reconstruct the epistemic and institutional milestones in the history of the tactile art gallery analytically, critically, and in a global perspective. Tactile art galleries are heterotopias within the functional unit of the museum. They suspend the founding paradigm of these institutions by breaking away from ocularcentrism and liberating their objects for haptic experience. They first emerged in the United States in the early 1960s against the backdrop of the disability rights movement and soon spread around the world. All tactile art galleries were designed for blind and visually disabled people, but were also accessible to nonblind visitors. The history of the tactile gallery is linked to contemporary art historical phenomena such as the participatory approach of environmental art, but also to the methodology of art history. By examining these historical approaches to museum pedagogy for the blind, the project will also critically engage with contemporary tactile programs in art institutions.

Dr Andrew Yip
Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales

Working in partnership with ANU Centre for Art History and Art Theory’s A/Prof Robert Wellington, Andrew Yip’s project focuses on applying high-fidelity, physics-based rendering techniques to the virtual reality reconstruction of Louis XIV’s lost Cabinet des Médailles, one of the most spectacular rooms at Versailles, which housed more than 27,000 coins and medals of great material and political significance. Using recent advances in physics-based rendering and materials simulation, this Project will restore the lost architecture of the Cabinet through the production of a 1:1 scale digital replica with interactive tools designed to not only facilitate an auratic exploration of the room itself, but an understanding of its collected medals and the physical ways in which they were handled and viewed in situ.

Andrew’s project aims to explore methods for designing embodied interaction and user-led frameworks that respect historically contextual behaviours and investigate best-practice methods for designing a virtual heritage toolkit to expand the capabilities of the disciplines of virtual heritage and art history.

The Sir William Dobell Art Foundation was formed in 1971 in memory of the Archibald prize-winning Australian artist Sir William Dobell (1899-1970), who was known for his landscapes and portrait paintings. The Foundation established the Sir William Dobell Chair of Art History at ANU, which it has continued to support for 30 years. This position has helped the College of Arts and Social Sciences support a teacher and researcher and strengthened the university's position as a leader in art history and curatorial studies.

Applications for 2025 are now open and will close 31 July 2024. Learn more.


Updated:  20 May 2024/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications