2021 ACIAC Annual Address - Culture Fever: The Importance of the Arts by Professor Nicholas Jose

The Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University hosted the 2021 Annual Address in person on our Parramatta South campus on 27 May 2021. We were very privileged and greatly honoured to have Professor Nicholas Jose to deliver the Annual Address entitled Culture Fever: The Importance of the Arts.



Professor Nicholas Jose

Professor Nicholas Jose has made tremendous contributions over the last three decades to cultural interactions between Australia and China, particularly in contemporary art and literature. He was Cultural Counsellor at the Australian Embassy Beijing from 1987-1990. His recent publications include, as co-editor, Everything Changes: Australian Writers and China - A transcultural anthology (2020) and Antipodean China: Reflections on Literary Exchange (2021).  He was pivotal in establishing the influential China Australia Literary Forum (CALF) in 2011, a biannual ongoing program between the China Writers Association and Western Sydney University, where he is now an adjunct professor in the Writing and Society Research Centre. He was Visiting Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University in 2009-10 and has taught at universities around the world, including Beijing Foreign Studies University and East China Normal University. He is now Emeritus Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide.

Professor Jose is also a highly esteemed writer, best known for his fiction and cultural essays. He has published seven novels. Avenue of Eternal Peace was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Prize in 1990 and adapted for television. The Custodians was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, South-East Asia, in 1997. A collection of his short fiction, Bapo, appeared in 2014. He was general editor of the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (2010). His research interests include Australian literature, literary translation, cross-cultural writing and contemporary Chinese art.


Book Launch


The book Antipodean China (opens in a new window) edited by Professor Jose will be launched at the event.

Antipodean China is a collection of essays based on a series of encounters between Australian and Chinese writers, which took place in China and Australia over a ten-year period from 2011. In the current climate, this collection presents what may be seen, in retrospect, as an idyllic moment of communication and trust. As the writers spoke about the places important to them, their influences and their work, resemblances emerged, and their different perspectives contributed to a sense of common understanding, about literature and about the role of the writer in society. This is seen particularly in the encounters between Tibetan author Alai and Indigenous author Alexis Wright, and the two winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Mo Yan and J.M. Coetzee.

The collection, edited by Nicholas Jose and Benjamin Madden, features writing by important Chinese and Australian authors, including Brian Castro, Gail Jones, Julia Leigh, Yu Hua, Sheng Keyi, Xi Chuan and Zheng Xiaoqiong, and translators Eric Abrahamsen, Li Yao, Natascha Bruce and John Minford.


For this event, we have also invited six special guest speakers to celebrate the importance of the arts and Professor Jose’s outstanding contributions to the arts and cultural exchanges between Australia and China.


Guest Speakers


Guan Wei graduated from the Department of Fine Arts at Beijing Capital University in 1986. From 1989 to1992, he completed art residencies at the University of Tasmania, Australian National University and Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. In 1993, he immigrated to Australia. Guan Wei is known for his distinctive style that combines Australian and Chinese influences and his symbolic visual language that maps the outlines of an imaginary world, merging eras and empires, and eastern and western philosophies. Guan Wei has held more than 70 solo exhibitions, including Guan Wei: A Case Study, Museum of Art & Culture Lake Macquarie (2020); Guan Wei: MCA Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2019); Cosmotheoria, White Box Art Centre, Beijing (2017); Salvation, ARC ONE Gallery (2014); The Journey to Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2013); Spellbound, He Xiang Ning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China (2011); Other Histories: Guan Wei’s Fable for a Contemporary World, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney (2006–2007); Looking, Greene St Studio, New York (2003); Zen Garden, Sherman Contemporary, Sydney (2000); and Nesting, or the Art of Idleness, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (1999).


Dr Gene Sherman AM is a leading Australian cultural figure and philanthropist. She is Founder, Executive and Artistic Director of the Sherman Centre for Culture and Ideas (SCCI). For 21 years (1986-2007), Dr Sherman was Director and Proprietor of Sherman Galleries, with a focus on artists from Australia, the Asia Pacific and Middle East. From 2008-2017, Dr Sherman was Chair and Executive Director of the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, presenting 37 projects by significant visual practitioners across art, architecture, fashion, film and design from the Asia Pacific, Australia and Middle East. Dr Sherman’s awards include Honorary Doctorates from the University of New South Wales (2020), the University of Technology, Sydney (2017) and the University of Sydney (2008). She also received the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2016), and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2003) from the French Government. In 2010, Dr Sheman was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of her cultural philanthropy and support of emerging and established artists.


Liu Xiao Xian is a Sydney-based contemporary artist. He was born in Beijing and received a Bachelor of Science in Optical Engineering at Beijing Institute of Technology in 1985. Xiao Xian moved to Australia in 1990. He completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) in 1998 and received a Master of Visual Arts at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney in 2002. Xiao Xian has exhibited in Australia and overseas including Chaos & Order, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne (2018); Buddha’s Smile, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2017); Curtain Call, Stills Gallery, Sydney (2017); Revelations, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne (2014); Made in China, touring exhibitions around Australia (2012); China Diaries, The Customs House, Sydney (2008); Andy and Oz: Parallel Visions, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh USA (2007);   To Look Within: Self Portraits, Australia National Portrait Gallery, Canberra (2006); The Way We Live, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2003); Buddha, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney (2001); Moët & Chandon Touring Exhibition, AGSA, AGNSW, NGA, RMIT (1999 – 2000). Xiao Xian’s works are collected by all major public galleries in Australia. His artworks are in the current exhibition The Way We Eat at the Art Gallery of NSW.


Professor Ivor Indyk is founding editor and publisher of HEAT magazine and the award-winning Giramondo book imprint, and Whitlam Professor in the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. Important Australian authors published by him at Giramondo include Alexis Wright (winner of the Miles Franklin Award), Brian Castro, Gerald Murnane, Nicholas Jose, Judith Beveridge, Jennifer Maiden, Robert Gray, Gig Ryan, Beverley Farmer and Antigone Kefala; and amongst younger writers Lisa Gorton, Alice Melike Ülgezer, Tom Cho, Vanessa Berry, Luke Beesley and Kate Middleton. He has a particular interest in the development and publication of writers from the Western Sydney region, most recently Fiona Wright, Felicity Castagna, Luke Carman and Mohammed Ahmad. As a literary critic, essayist and reviewer, he has written a monograph on David Malouf for Oxford University Press, and essays on many aspects of Australian literature, art, architecture and publishing. His research projects include the history of Australian literary publishing, the expression of emotion in Australian literature, with a particular interest in Patrick White, and the literary exploration of provincialism.


Professor Li Yao is a renowned literary translator in China. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Inner Mongolian University, China, in 1966. In 2014, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Sydney. In 2019, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the Western Sydney University. Professor Li Yao teaches literary translation at Peking University and Beijing Foreign Studies University. He is the adjunct professor at the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University. Professor Li Yao began his literary translation career in 1978 and has since translated many Australian authors into Chinese, including Patrick White, Tom Keneally, Peter Carey, Alexis Wright, Nicholas Jose, Brian Castro, Kim Scott, Colleen McCulloch, Richard Flanagan, Alex Miller, Anita Heiss, Gail Jones and Mirandi Riwoe, as well as non-fiction books by David Walker and Tim Watts.


Dr Wang Jinghui is a professor of comparative literature and translation studies at Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in Tsinghua University, China. She is also the Deputy Director of Australian Studies Centre at Tsinghua University. Her research field includes postcolonial studies, 20th century literary theory, Australian studies and cultural translation. Professor Wang is the author of Foreigner Forever: On J.M. Coetzee (2010) and also the Chinese translator of books by J.M. Coetzee, including The Death of Jesus, Foe andLate Essays: 2006-2017 (2021). She has also translated J.M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing by J.C. Kannemeyer and Postmodernism and Popular Culture: A Cultural History by John Docker.