Songs of Unknowing

Songs of Unknowing

RMIT Gallery

5 – 7pm, Thursday 10 November

Songs of Unknowing: a musical response to the patient archives of the Cunningham Dax Collection.

A performance by Jenny Hickinbotham and David Chesworth at 5:30pm

Join Jenny Hickinbotham accompanied by David Chesworth for a musical response to the patient archives of the Cunningham Dax Collection.

Panel discussion at 6:15pm

Join Archives of Feeling co-curator Grace McQuilten in discussion with artists Jenny Hickinbotham and Heidi Everett, and Melbourne University Associate Professor Dr. Anthony White, for a dynamic discussion about the roles that artists, institutions and art historians play in depicting art histories and practices informed by lived experiences of mental health and trauma.

RSVP here.


Jenny Hickinbotham ’s work encompasses writing, video, sculpture, and songs. Hickinbotham inhabits multiple voices, perspectives and temporalities as she explores the epigenetic impacts of trauma, and the narratives of individuals swept up by the forces of history, institutions, and the places in which they live. Laced with humour, pathos, searing critique, and a powerful imagistic capacity, the songs are profoundly informed by the artist’s own childhood experiences, which resulted in diagnoses of developmental trauma, complex post-traumatic stress culminating in the schizophrenia label in early adulthood. Jenny has ‘heard voices’ for most of her life and her work explores her ongoing struggle to challenge the institutional pathologising of these experiences. Understanding these internal voices, listening, giving meaning to them, singing them, and considering their relation to the ghosts of the past and present, is a preoccupation of Hickinbotham’s work.

David Chesworth is an artist, composer, teacher and currently a Vice Chancellor’s Post-Doctoral Fellow in the School of Art. His show Where Lakes Once Had Water with Sonia Leber is currently showing at TarraWarra Musem of Art.

Heidi Everett is a writer, award winning artist, independent producer, mental health and neurodivergent lived experience advocate based in Melbourne/on Wurundjeri Country. Heidi is founder and director of Schizy Inc and Qualia Theatre, empowering lived experience pride through the arts. Heidi received the Victorian Government Disability Volunteer award, the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council Human Rights award, and Qualia Theatre received the Melbourne FRINGE Access and Inclusion award. Heidi’s new play ‘Fyre’ spotlights the psychiatric system versus healing through creativity. Heidi speaks regularly at social impact forums, as well as writers and arts festivals. Heidi’s critically acclaimed memoir My Friend Fox was published by Ultimo Press in 2021 with an accompanying illustration exhibition ‘The Artful Fox’ at Dax gallery in 2022.

Grace McQuilten is a published art historian, curator and artist with expertise in contemporary art and design, public art, social practice, social enterprise and community development.

Anthony White is an Associate Professor and Deputy Head (Research) in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on the history of modern and contemporary art.


Archives of Feeling: Trauma, Knowledge, Empathy at RMIT Gallery from 21 September to 10 December 2022

Exhibition21 Sep – 11 Dec 2022

Archives of Feeling: Trauma, Knowledge, Empathy

The complex repercussions of traumatic experiences, whether collective or individual, are often feelings we navigate alone. Archives of Feeling imagines new ways of sharing the felt dimensions of trauma. In this…