Hibberd & Djuric

Art and the pain of others: creative collaboration and research ethics in the context of lived trauma

Lily Hibberd (UNSW)
Bonney Djuric (UNSW)

In 2012, Bonney Djuric came across an image that Lily Hibberd had taken of a set of blue gates, outside the old entry to the Parramatta Female Factory. Bonney had once seen those gates from within, as a teenage resident of the adjacent Parramatta Girls Home. Bonney, also an artist, immediately contacted Lily and a collaboration was born: The Parragirls Female Factory Precinct Memory Project. This paper presents how ethics has been an issue that has moved from periphery to centre as our project has evolved. The people at the core of this work, the Parragirls, live with life-long disadvantage and trauma as a result of the treatment they experienced in the Home and there are limited resources and time to support these women to record this history from their own perspective. Artists play a significant part in facilitating creative and formal expression for traumatic and marginalised memory. Collaboration, however, can present challenges for the attribution of authorship and creative authority. We have faced on numerous occasions conflicts arising from differing expectations and unclear ethical boundaries between independent artists and the Parragirls’ rights as authors of their own history and artwork. Out of these experiences, we have devised a specific set of ethical parameters, which serve to define the boundaries of collaboration with survivors of trauma and that we provide in this paper as examples for other artists working in this field of research.


Dr Lily Hibberd is an artist and ARC DECRA Research Fellow at the National Institute of Experimental Arts (NIEA) UNSW, Bonney Djuric is an artist, Forgotten Australian and Associate Lecturer at NIEA, UNSW. Bonney and Lily co-founded the Parragirls Female Factory Precinct Memory Project in 2012.