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Dr Bernadette Drabsch

Lecturer

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 undertake my honours year under the banner of Natural History Illustration and travelled 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 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
• Early visual narratives and linear inscriptions
• The connection between art, religion and social complexity in the Levantine Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age.
• Syrio-Mesopotamian cylinder seals
• Rock art of New South Wales
• Illustrators of the Hunter Region, past and present

 
Teaching Expertise
I currently teach the theoretical component of the Natural History Illustration degree in addition to some studio based subjects. My 2nd year theoretical course covers the history of illustration, from prehistory to modern times, focusing on the importance of socio-cultural contextualisation and developing observation skills. The 3rd year theoretical course teaches students how to develop and write practice-based research. 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.  I also teach a new winter compressed field course that combines illustration and cultural studies, focusing on the rock art of the Hunter region.  In addition I have recently designed and written the University's first MOOC with Edx that partners with the Smithsonian Institute.  This creative MOOC 'Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101'  had 13,000 enrollments from around the world.

Collaborations
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.  Most recently my primary area of collaboration is with the BOLD team and Edx developing online learning modules for the MOOC.


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

Code Description Percentage
210199 Archaeology not elsewhere classified 35
120301 Design History and Theory 35
190102 Art History 30

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Design Communication and IT
Australia

Membership

Dates Title Organisation / Department
4/02/2016 - 30/11/2016 Natural History Illustration Research Group Natural History Illustration Resarch Group (NHIRG)
Natural History Illustration Research Group
Australia
1/01/2013 - 31/12/2014 Membership - Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Guild of Natural Science Illustrators
Colombia
1/01/2010 - 31/12/2016 Membership - Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation
University of Sydney
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
27/01/2009 - 16/12/2016 The University of Sydney Pella Project

Senior staff member and head illustrator

The University of Sydney Pella Project
Australia

Awards

Award

Year Award
2016 Faculty - Team Award for Collaboration Excellence
Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle | Australia
2016 Vice Chancellor's Award for Collaboration Excellence
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY

Distinction

Year Award
2010 University Medal
University of Newcastle

Recognition

Year Award
2011 3MT prize
University of Newcastle
2010 Australian Postgraduate Award
Australian Government
2010 Graham Gilchrist Natural History Illustration Prize
University of Newcastle
2009 DVC Research Honours Scholarship
University of Newcastle
2008 William Coleborne Memorial Prize in Greek
University of Newcastle
2007 Williams Classics Scholarship
University of Newcastle
2006 Ann Lowry Memorial Prize in Latin
University of Newcastle
2006 James King Memorial Prize in Greek
University of Newcastle
2005 Staff Prize in Classical Civilisations
University of Newcastle

Research Award

Year Award
2010 Dorothy Cameron Fellowship
University of Sydney

Teaching

Code Course Role Duration
NHIL2002 Natural History Illustration Theoretical Studies
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This course explores Natural History Illustration from the Mesolithic to the modern day.  Students learn to research, analyse and write in an academic manner while exploring artists and cultures of their choice.
Lecturer 26/01/2016 - 5/01/2017
NHIL1004 Natural History Illustration Studio Studies
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This course covers the basics of studio practice for first year students.  It explores concepts such as spatial depth, figure drawing and creative illustration techniques. 
Lecturer and course coordinator 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
NHIL3004 Natural History Field Studies & Culture Compressed winter course
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This compressed course includes a field trip and individualised projects related to areas of cultural importance in the Hunter Valley. 
Lecturer and course co-ordinator 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
NHIL3001B Natural History Illustration Major Project B
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This intensive course follows on from Major Project A.  Students build a body of work based on a chosen theme that correlates with the requirements of the Margaret Senior Award.
Lecturer/tutor 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
NHIL3001A Natural History Illustration Major Project A
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This course encourages students to employ their technical skills to 4 applied projects of their choice.
Lecturer/tutor 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
NHIL1003 Natural History Illustration Studio Studies
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This course introduces the basics of Natural History Illustration such as observational drawing, tonal rendering and understanding form, proportion and structure.
Lecturer 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
NHIL4002 Natural History Illustration Honours - theory
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This course covers project and research development and planning.  It explores the theoretical underpinnings of practice based and practice led research. 
Lecturer 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
NHIL4003 Exegesis and journal
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This course expands on the foundational studies developed in 4002 and focuses on how to write a reflective account of a creative process.
Lecturer 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
Edx MOOC Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101x
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This comprehensive course was developed to cover the foundations of Natural History Illustration.  The online delivery mode made it available to students from all around the world.
Lecturer and developer 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
NHIL3002 Natural History Illustration Dissertation
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This course explores the theory around practice based research.  It covers areas such as methods and methodology, literature and practice reviews and writing an exegesis. 
Lecturer and course co-ordinator 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
NHIL3003 Natural History Illustration External Project
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
This course encourages students to work in collaboration with external partners on a project of their choice or to explore and develop new techniques.
Lecturer and course coordinator 5/12/2016 - 5/01/2017
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Publications

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


Book (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Drabsch BS, The mysterious wall paintings of Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan: In context, Archaeopress Archaeology, Oxford, 210 (2015) [A1]

Journal article (3 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Drabsch BS, 'Drawn into the Star: Recreating the Ghassulian Wall Paintings', The Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation Bulletin, 58 17-19 (2015) [C3]
2015 Drabsch BS, 'The wall art of Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan: When, where, why, to whom and by whom', Expression, No 8 50-58 (2015) [C1]
2014 Drabsch B, Bourke S, 'Ritual, art and society in the levantine chalcolithic: The 'processional' wall painting from teleilat ghassul', Antiquity, 88 1081-1098 (2014) [C1]

© Antiquity Publications Ltd.The fragmentary 'Processional' wall painting from Teleilat Ghassul in Jordan is here shown to depict a religious procession involving eight individua... [more]

© Antiquity Publications Ltd.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.

Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2

Conference (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Drabsch 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 (2014) [E1]

Creative Work (8 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Weekes TM, Endangered and Extinct (2016)
2016 Bonfiglioli C, Drabsch B, Cincunegui G, Donnelly P, Petrie C, Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis, Oxford (2016)
2015 Drabsch BS, Mulubinba: Place of Sea Ferns (2015) [J2]
2015 Drabsch BS, Signature: Celebrating our artist graduates (2015) [J2]
2015 Howells A, Atkins D, Weekes T, Sailer P, Dedman L, Purnell T, et al., Illuminating Science (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Daniel Atkins, Andrew Howells, Prue Sailer
2015 Drabsch BS, Atkins DP, Illuminating Science, Newcastle City Council (2015) [J3]
Co-authors Daniel Atkins
2015 Howells A, Atkins D, Weekes T, Sailer P, Dedman L, Purnell T, et al., Illuminating Science (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Andrew Howells, Daniel Atkins, Prue Sailer
2014 Drabsch BS, 'Transformations: 40 years of the Open Foundation Program' (2014)
Show 5 more creative works

Other (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Drabsch BS, 'Evolving Symbolism: Continuity and Change in Artistic Repesentation during the South Levantine Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages', (2016) [O1]
2016 Drabsch BS, 'Society and Symbolism of the Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Periods in the extended Fertile Crescent', (2016) [O1]
2016 Drabsch BS, 'Visualising and Contextualising the rock art sites of the Hunter: Conservation through Education', (2016) [O1]
2016 Drabsch BS, 'Nude, Robed and Masked Processions: Considering the Figural Images in the Teleilat Ghassul Wall Paintings, Jordan', (2016) [O1]
2016 Drabsch BS, 'Iconography and Symbolic Meaning of the Human during the Southern Levantine Chalcolithic', (2016) [O1]
Show 2 more others

Thesis / Dissertation (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Drabsch BS, Contextualising the wall paintings of Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan, University of Newcastle (2014)
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News

World-first online course grants access to leading Australian artists

September 28, 2016

The University of Newcastle, Australia (UON) has partnered with edX, the leading online learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT, to provide a world-first illustration course from UON’s prestigious Natural History Illustration program.

Dr Bernadette Drabsch

Position

Lecturer
School of Design Communication and IT
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Contact Details

Email bernadette.drabsch@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 6371
Links Personal webpage
Research Networks

Office

Room Design Building D218
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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