Conference | Grounding the Sacred through Literature and the Arts | Sydney July 2015

© Shirley Purdie, Gurragurrag, 120x120 cm, natural ochre and pigment on canvas, 2013, courtesy Warmun Art Centre.

© Shirley Purdie, Gurragurrag, 120×120 cm, natural ochre and pigment on canvas, 2013, courtesy Warmun Art Centre.

The conference will bring together writers, artists, musicians, academics, researchers, religious and members of the public to discuss where creativity sits in relation to religion and the search for meaning. Invited speakers and performers include Imam Afroz Ali, Carmel Bird, Kathleen Deignan (Iona Spirituality Institute), Kevin Hart (Virginia), David Jasper (Glasgow), Vivien Johnson, Dr Rachael Kohn, Dr Genevieve Lacey, David Malouf, Michael McGirr, and Thaddeus Metz (Johannesburg). An exhibition of paintings by Papunya Tula Artists and the Warlayirti Artists of Balgo will be shown at the McGlade Gallery during the Conference.

Date: Thursday 23 July to Sunday 26 July, 2015

Venue: Australian Catholic University, 25A Barker Road, Strathfield, NSW 2135

Program highlights

Thursday 23 July | Postgraduate seminar on Grounding the Sacred.

Conference opening, including presentations by Professor Thaddeus Metz (University of Johannesburg), recorder virtuoso Dr Genevieve Lacey, Indigenous art expert Professor Vivien Johnson, and soprano Joelene Griffith with pianist Bradley Gilchrist. Religious broadcaster and writer Dr Rachael Kohn is the participating chair.

Friday 24 July | Conference paper sessions, interspersed by a Skype presentation from Professor Kathleen Deignan in New York (Director of the Iona Spirituality Institute and the Merton Contemplative Initiative); an address by Imam Afroz Ali on Islam and expression of the sacred; Professor David Jasper (University of Glasgow) and author David Malouf speaking on ‘The First Night out of Eden’; and a performed presentation by musician and composer Dr Maeve Louise Heaney VDMF.

Saturday 25 July | Keynote addresses from authors Michael McGirr on Jesuit poet Peter Steele and Carmel Bird on the ways in which fiction draws the reader in towards contemplation of a sacred object. Conference paper sessions.

Sunday 26 July | A meditation with poetry with René and Jane Buhler, conference paper sessions, poet and philosopher of religion Professor Kevin Hart on ‘How the Sacred Appears: Some Thoughts on Poetry and the Dark One’, and a closing panel of key speakers.

Registration by 8 July is encouraged

Registration: between $65 (unwaged, single day) and $340 (waged, four-day package).

Refreshments included.

Program and registration details:

Enquiries:, 02 9701 4192 or, 02 9739 2898

The Conference is part of Australian Catholic University’s 25th anniversary celebrations and is supported by a generous grant from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.