Conversations on Social Practice

Conversations on Social Practice

Wednesday, November 8 at 3:00pm — 5:00pm

New Social Economies in Art and Design

Presenters include Tanja Beer and Grace McQuilten and chaired by Marnie Badham.

This third session in our series explores alternative creative economies in contemporary art and design and their social impact.

“From shops, gifts, and dinner parties to contract labor and petty theft, contemporary artists have used a variety of methods that both connect participants to tangible goods and services and, at the same time, offer critiques of and alternatives to global capitalism and other forms of social interaction.” Ted Purves, 2014, What We Want Is Free.

Dr Tanja Beer is a leading ecoscenographer (ecological stage designer), community artist and Academic Fellow in Performance Design and Sustainability (University of Melbourne). She has more than 15 years professional experience, including creating numerous designs and public installations for organisations in Australia and oversees. Tanja’s most significant work is The Living Stage, a global initiative that combines stage design, horticulture and community engagement to create recyclable, biodegradable, edible and biodiverse performance spaces. Her current creative research is focused on children’s agency on environmental issues and the potential of arts-science communication to foster socio-ecological connection.

See: Tanja Beer website and ecoscenography website

Dr Grace McQuilten is a published art historian, curator and artist with expertise in contemporary art and design, public art, social practice, social enterprise and community development. Grace’s new book, Art as Enterprise: Social and Economic Engagement in Contemporary Art is published by IB Tauris (UK) and is co-authored with Dr Anthony White. It considers new economic models for the arts in the context of social practice, creative industries and transformations in the public realm. In 2011 she published Art in Consumer Culture with Ashgate Publishing, looking at the work of contemporary international artists engaging critically with design. Grace’s research considers the social impact of art and its engagement with broader social and economic systems. She explores art’s relationship to global development and the shifting relationship between public and private space in contemporary culture; how art mediates individual and collective experience in cities, and the way that artistic practice addresses the impact of industrialisation and globalisation in specific communities. Grace is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow with the School of Art at RMIT University.

The Conversation Series on Social Practice in Art and Design has been supported by the Design and Creative Practice Enabling Capabilities Practice at RMIT University. For more information, please contact

Wednesday 8 November, 3–5pm
MAPS, City campus (Building 50) 11-15 Orr Street, Melbourne

NYC Living Stage, 2017, led by Superhero Clubhouse in partnership with University Settlement and eco-scenographer Tanja Beer