Dr Bernadette Drabsch

Casual Academic

School of Design Communication and IT

Career Summary

Biography

My academic path began with very tentative footsteps as a mature-aged student during a year of Open Foundation at the University of Newcastle, studying both Ancient History and Visual Arts.  The cross-road at the end of my enabling year caused some dilemma in deciding which avenue to follow, Ancient History or Art? My mind was made up after receiving a particularly high mark for Ancient History and my undergraduate journey began with a Bachelor of Arts.  However, whilst I thoroughly enjoyed studying Latin, Ancient Greek and the classics my love of art never departed and I continued to draw and paint during this time, holding three successful solo exhibitions. Eventually my paths merged when I wandered over to the Natural History Illustration department for some elective subjects within my BA, undertaking courses in scientific illustration and field studies.  After much deliberation I decided to leave my Ancient History family and undertake my honours year under the banner of Natural History Illustration and traveled to Pella, in Jordan to work as an illustrator on an archaeological dig.  This culminated in a collection of artworks  and a related honours exegesis/dissertation, entitled 'Tabula Recens Antiquae Terrae - A fresh account of an ancient land'.  My time in Jordan also introduced me to the 6000 year old wall paintings from a site near the Dead Sea called Teleilat Ghassul, that were to become the focus of my PhD research project. This four year endeavor successfully merged all of my prior academic training and practical expertise and combined all of my passions - ancient history, archaeology and natural history illustration. In addition to being a fascinating project to work on my PhD also opened up many new paths to explore and I now feel that I'm at the beginning rather than the end of my meandering academic journey.

 

Research Expertise
My trans-disciplinary academic background in Ancient History, Classical Languages and Natural History Illustration and my volunteer work on archaeological digs in Jordan have resulted in a wide variety of research interests. My recently completed PhD titled 'The contextualisation of the ancient wall paintings from Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan' was a cross-institutional and trans-disciplinary project, combining aspects of ancient history, archaeology and natural history illustration. Ongoing research interests include the following areas:
• The contextualised history of illustration
• The role of prehistoric art as a mnemonic tool
• Art creation as a ritual process
• Totemic animals in the iconography of ancient Near Eastern art
• The controversial relationship between early visual narratives and linear inscriptions
• The connection between art, religion and social complexity in the Levantine Chalcolithic period.
• Art of the prehistoric Near East
• Australian indigenous rock art
• Illustrators of the Hunter Region, past and present
• Conservation and education through illustration Early Christian and 'pagan' iconography

Teaching Expertise
I currently teach the theoretical component of the Natural History Illustration degree. The 2nd year theoretical course covers the history of illustration, from prehistory to modern times, focusing on the importance of sociocultural contextualisation. The 3rd year theoretical course teaches students how to develop and write creative arts practice research and successfully apply for grants. I have developed the curriculum for both of these courses and conduct lectures, tutorials and seminars in addition to carrying out the marking and assessment. 

Collaborations
I have two main areas of collaboration, reflecting my two primary areas of interest. I'm currently collaborating with archaeologist, Dr. Stephen Bourke, from the University of Sydney and we are exploring the relationship between art, ritual and social complexity in the Chalcolithic period of the Southern Levant. Additionally, I'm collaborating with members of the Natural History Illustration Research Group (NHIRG) from the University of Newcastle and we are working towards a book publication, exhibitions, public art projects and a proposed conference.


Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Natural History Illustration (Honours), University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • Ancient forms of visual communication
  • Archaeological Illustration
  • Art History
  • Art of the Ancient Near East
  • Chalcolithic period in the Southern Levant
  • Contextualisation
  • Field work
  • Frescoes
  • Indigenous rock art
  • Natural History Illustration
  • Natural History Illustration theory
  • Pictorial representations from preliterate cultures
  • Prehistoric Art
  • The history of illustration and early illustrators

Fields of Research

CodeDescriptionPercentage
120301Design History and Theory35
190102Art History30

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
18/06/2015 - 18/12/2015Casual AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
School of Design Communication and IT
Australia
26/03/2015 - 26/03/2015Casual Freelance ArtistUniversity of Newcastle
The Wollotuka Institute
Australia
13/03/2015 - 13/03/2015Archaeological PresenterUniversity of Newcastle
School of Design Communication and IT
Australia
20/02/2015 - 18/12/2015Casual AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
School of Design Communication and IT
Australia
16/02/2015 - 18/12/2015Casual AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
School of Creative Arts
Australia

Membership

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/01/2013 - 31/12/2014Membership - Guild of Natural Science IllustratorsGuild of Natural Science Illustrators
Colombia
1/01/2010 - 31/12/2014Membership - Near Eastern Archaeological FoundationNear Eastern Archaeological Foundation
Australia

Awards

Distinction

YearAward
2010University Medal
University of Newcastle

Recognition

YearAward
20113MT prize
University of Newcastle
2010Australian Postgraduate Award
Australian Government
2010Graham Gilchrist Natural History Illustration Prize
University of Newcastle
2009DVC Research Honours Scholarship
University of Newcastle
2008William Coleborne Memorial Prize in Greek
University of Newcastle
2007Williams Classics Scholarship
University of Newcastle
2006Ann Lowry Memorial Prize in Latin
University of Newcastle
2006James King Memorial Prize in Greek
University of Newcastle
2005Staff Prize in Classical Civilisations
University of Newcastle

Research Award

YearAward
2010Dorothy Cameron Fellowship
University of Sydney
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (3 outputs)

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2014Drabsch B, Bourke S, 'Ritual, art and society in the levantine chalcolithic: The 'processional' wall painting from teleilat ghassul', Antiquity, 88 1081-1098 (2014) [C1]

The fragmentary 'Processional' wall painting from Teleilat Ghassul in Jordan is here shown to depict a religious procession involving eight individuals rather than the three identified in the original 1970s reconstruction. All of the figures wear masks and carry objects, but elaborately robed leaders, members perhaps of a dedicated priestly class, are clearly distinguished from their naked attendants. The scene belongs to the Late Chalcolithic period when Levantine society was becoming increasingly hierarchical, and the wall painting as a whole illustrates the prominent role of elites in ritual practices at this critical period of social transformation.

2014Drabsch B, Bourke S, 'Ritual, art and society in the levantine chalcolithic: The 'processional' wall painting from teleilat ghassul', Antiquity, 88 1081-1098 (2014) [C1]

The fragmentary 'Processional' wall painting from Teleilat Ghassul in Jordan is here shown to depict a religious procession involving eight individuals rather than the three identified in the original 1970s reconstruction. All of the figures wear masks and carry objects, but elaborately robed leaders, members perhaps of a dedicated priestly class, are clearly distinguished from their naked attendants. The scene belongs to the Late Chalcolithic period when Levantine society was becoming increasingly hierarchical, and the wall painting as a whole illustrates the prominent role of elites in ritual practices at this critical period of social transformation.

2014Drabsch BS, Bourke SJ, 'Ritual, Art and Society in the Levantine Chalcolithic: Reconsidering the 'Processional' wall painting from Teleilat Ghassul in Jordan', Antiquity: a quarterly review of archaeology, unknown (2014)

Conference (1 outputs)

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2014Drabsch BS, 'A Procession of Chalcolithic Villagers: Reconsidering Hennessy's 'Processional' wall painting from Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan', Proceedings of the 8th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Warsaw (2014) [E1]
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Dr Bernadette Drabsch

Positions

Casual Academic
School of Design Communication and IT
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Casual Academic
School of Design Communication and IT
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Casual Academic
School of Creative Arts
Faculty of Education and Arts

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