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Dr. Bonita Ely

Dr. Bonita Ely


Associate Professor Bonita Ely is a founding member of the Environmental Research Institute of Art (ERIA) at UNSW, funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant. She  lectures in and co-ordinates  COFA's Sculpture, Performance and Installation Studio. Her cross disciplinary research is most closely aligned to the fields of  Environmental and Socio-political Art. Fascinated by our place in nature, our impacts on the natural world, our inter personal relationships within this context, and the natural world itself, these factors coalesce in her studio based research.  The active engagement of the viewer optimises  interpretative responses to the catalyst of her investigative yet poetic art practice. To this end Dr Ely has developed innovative forms of contemporary art derived from a primarily sculptural intelligence. She has often anticipated the zeitgeist, providing inspiration and direction for new fields of practice in Australia's visual arts. 

Her current research project titled Interior Decoration, is funded by the Australia Council and Faculty Research grants. It deploys photography, video and sculptural installation to address the inter generational affects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an outcome of war. Her recent public artwork, Thunderbolt (2010), functions as an electronic signal reminding people to moderate their energy consumption. Her forensic examinations of the impacts of coal mining on the Georges River (2010) and the consequence of mis-management of the Murray Darling Basin's ecology (2007 - 2010) are foreshadowed by her exposure of environmental degradation in the 70s and 1980s (For example Locust People series, 1975; Murray River Punch performance, 1980), genetic engineering in the 90s (We Live to be Surprised, 1990 - 94). All are contextualised by on-going examinations of socio-political factors, such as Indigenous Land Rights (Jabiluka UO2, 1978); feminist perspectives (Breadline, 1980); deconstruction of history as fiction (the Dogwoman series, 1982, 1985); the commodification of nature (Bonsai Landscape, 2002, 2005).

Current appointment(s)

Associate Professor, College of Fine Arts, UNSW.
Co-ordinator, Sculpture, Performance and Installation Studies Area, COFA.
Co-ordinator, 1st Year Gateway Program, COFA. 
Founding Member, Environmental Research Initiative for Art (ERIA).

Related projects