What are we?

The Critical Animals Creative Research Symposium is an annual conference that takes place over the first weekend in October in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, as part of This is Not Art. 

Critical Animals brings together students, researchers, writers, artists, academics and thinkers who are critically engaged in creative and experimental art practices. It is an opportunity to present papers, research material and creative practice with an aim to generating discussion and collaboration. Participants and audience explore opposites and juxtapositions, unpack questions and conundrums, and cultivate new avenues for thought and creativity.

Critical Animals partnered with This is Not Art in 2002 to fulfill the creative research aspect of the festival. Critical Animals fosters the development of critical thought and reflection in artistic practice and research, while providing an environment in which ideas and relationships can develop in conversation. In 2010, the festival comprised approximately 250 events in 30 venues, attracting an audience of 5,500 from across Australia.

As a not-for-profit and entirely non-commercial festival, Critical Animals offers all its events for free to artists and attendees. Critical Animals is committed to providing a forum for creativity and discovery. Situated at the intersection of arts and research, it’s a space to share ideas, develop practice and form connections.

For many academics this is the beginning of their conference experience and Critical Animals provides a well supported environment for those stepping out on the research symposium circuit. Critical Animals is a breeding ground for long term networks and partnerships which are formed between artists, audience, festival coordinators and the This is Not Art festival at large.

This is Not Art is an experimental environment where artists can test and exchange ideas that belong outside of institutions. Produced by Octapod in Newcastle since 1998, TiNA has grown to become one of Australia’s leading contemporary and emerging arts festivals, creating spaces for artistic collaboration and discovery. Forever responding and evolving, TiNA promotes a vibrant combination of voices that celebrate and seek creative innovation. As a festival of multiple programs presenting dynamic and bold works, TiNA is the sum of its ever-changing parts.

Critical Animals would like to thank all our artists for their involvement and invite everyone to join in this wonderful, growing festival.

Who are we?

soph copySophie Lamond; Director (2012 – 2013)
Sophie Lamond is still working out what she wants to do when she grows up.  Depending on which day of the week you ask her it might be an art historian, an architect, an agronomist or an apiarist. Sophie completed Honours in Art History and Curatorship in 2011 at the Australian National University looking at contemporary artists’ journeys to the Arctic and Antarctic. She works developing education programs for Cockatoo Island on Sydney Harbour and as a curator for Art, Not Apart in Canberra. Sophie is interested in urban exploration, eco-critical art, collaborative and interdisciplinary artistic practice and relational aesthetics; somewhere in the midst of these concerns she is determined to find the creative space between art and vegetable gardening. Sophie has been a long-time visitor to This is Not Art, presented at the 2011 Critical Animals and is thrilled to continue her directorship in 2013.

Tulleah Pearce; Director (2012 – 2013)
Tulleah Pearce is a Sydney-based emerging curator and organiser, who spends her 9 to 5 at Performance Space making the unlikely possible. She has previously worked for a regional arts centre, private collection and a few commercial galleries. She graduated from COFA (UNSW) with a thesis exploring national identity, globalisation and biopolitics in contemporary Indian art. Her interests include performativity, political theory, pop culture, social history, as well as hybrid, interactive, and conceptually driven art practices. This his her second year directing Critical Animals, she might even join twitter.

newtwaveBeau Anthony Deurwaarder; Director (2012 – 2014)

Beau is an avid reader, writer, thinker and creator; wiki Critical Animals and you’ll probably see his picture. He works during the week in disability support and at a local record store, and likes to DJ weekends under the promiscuous alias ‘Tender Buttons’. Last year he completed a lengthy philosophy thesis, concentrating on the words written by Gilles Deleuze and the rampant territory of experimental writing. Sadly, he hasn’t quite recovered from that venture. Beau is currently attempting to mythbust health warnings deprecating caffeine consumption and works tirelessly to cultivate new avenues for critical thought.

eleanorEleanor Zeichner; Director (2013 – 2014)

Eleanor is an arts administrator with experience in the commercial, non-profit and government sectors. Prior to her current role in arts funding, she has worked for the Biennale of Sydney, interned at the Art Gallery of South Australia, and managed a prominent Sydney commercial gallery. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons 1) in Art History and Theory from the University of Sydney, and wrote her thesis on the environmental politics of ephemeral art practice. This is her first Critical Animals.

denise cotter dam.jpgDenise Thwaites; Critical Animalia Editor and Coordinator (2013)

Denise is a semi-nomadic arts writer and academic. Stepping out from her PhD thesis isolation chamber, her involvement with Critical Animals allows her to utilise skills she has learnt as an arts administrator, lecturer and publications assistant. Her previous workplaces include the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, The National Art School, The University of New South Wales and The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. She can often be found eating too much bread in France.