eCite Digital Repository

Visual Art and Agency in the Identity Formation of Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014)


Teniswood-Harvey, A, Visual Art and Agency in the Identity Formation of Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014), Intercongressional Symposium: Agency and Identity in Music, 7-10 July, Lucerne, Switzerland, pp. 61. (2019) [Conference Extract]

Pending copyright assessment - Request a copy

Official URL:


Sculthorpe is considered a composer deeply connected with the Australian landscape, with Indigenous culture and with the proximity of Asia. His distinctive musical identity drew from a rich array of cultural sources. Skilled in identity management, he often cited Australian art to explain his musical intentions. This paper will examine three ways in which Sculthorpe harnessed visual art: through allegiance with particular Australian artists including Russell Drysdale, by promulgating identity through portraiture, and by fostering inter-arts dialogue. It will elucidate the cultural conditions that encouraged Sculthorpe to look to visual art and examine why Eric Smith’s 1982 portrait of him has become particularly iconic.

The paper draws upon existing Sculthorpe scholarship and archival sources. Utilizing the methods of art history and Australian art historiography, it applies social psychological synthesis to reconcile the role of both social and agentic factors in identity formation, and theoretical frameworks to examine the agency of the images themselves. The research finds that agency manifests in Smith’s portrait as both index and secondary agent. The reproduction of the image on key literary and musical products, and its curatorial linkage with a photographic portrait of Sculthorpe and Drysdale reinforces key factors of identity. Endorsed by the composer as a true indicator of his personal and musical identities, Smith’s portrait has attained a particular significance and association with Sculthorpe’s music.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:Sculthorpe, identity, agency, Drysdale
Research Division:Creative Arts and Writing
Research Group:Art history, theory and criticism
Research Field:Art history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Arts
Objective Field:Music
UTAS Author:Teniswood-Harvey, A (Dr Arabella Teniswood-Harvey)
ID Code:134728
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Office of the School of Creative Arts and Media
Deposited On:2019-08-30
Last Modified:2019-09-04

Repository Staff Only: item control page