Sam Bowker

Art, Design, History, and Khayamiya (Egyptian Tentmaker Applique)

Month: August, 2018

Art after Orientalism

Art after Orientalism

This was a public lecture developed for the launch of the exhibition “Elsewhere: Travels through Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Iran and Central Asia”, hosted by Charles Sturt University. This illustrated lecture reviewed the curatorial thesis for this touring exhibition, including the reception and critiques of Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978), contemporary representations of these regions in visual culture, and how the artists Wendy Sharpe and Bernard Ollis have challenged these perspectives to create empathic narratives through first-person encounters.

Elsewhere: Travels through Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Iran and Central Asia

Cairo Cafe - Wendy Sharpe, ELSEWHERE exhibition

Image: Wendy Sharpe, Cairo Cafe (2009) Gouache on paper. Private collection.


Elsewhere is a touring exhibition curated in response to the 40th anniversary of Edward Said’s vastly influential book Orientalism. It surveys the work of acclaimed travelling artists Wendy Sharpe and Bernard Ollis, whose complex works directly engage with the depiction of the realities of daily life and visitor’s experiences across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Developed over ten years, these artworks present a critical reply to Said’s thesis, establishing how contemporary artists may represent the nuances of present-day traveler’s realities through drawing, artists’ books, and paintings across monumental and intimate scales.

The Elsewhere Exhibition Catalogue is freely available online here: Elsewhere Exhibition Catalogue (Published 2019)

This exhibition has been generously supported by the New South Wales Government through a touring exhibitions grant from CreateNSW, the H.R. Gallop Gallery and Charles Sturt University. It was curated by Dr Sam Bowker and Jessica Green, with contributions to the catalogue from Rachel Walls and Soseh Yekanians. We thank the artists Wendy Sharpe and Bernard Ollis for the loan of their works to this exhibition and interviews.

Elsewhere Exhibition Tour Dates:

  • H.R. Gallop Gallery, Wagga Wagga: 13 August – 7 September 2018
  • Griffith Regional Art Gallery: 29 September – 4 November 2018
  • Port Macquarie Glasshouse: 13 July – 29 September 2019
  • Tamworth Regional Art Gallery: 8 February – 22 March 2020
  • Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo: 27 March – 10 May 2020


Bernard Ollis - Dancing in a Cairo nightclub - 2008

Image: Bernard Ollis, Dancing in a Cairo Nightclub (2008) Oil pastel on paper. Private collection.


Navigating the Infinite Sky: Public Lectures for Sky Trails 2018

Sky Trails 2018

Burrung Murruway | Sky Trails | Masarat Alsama

It was a pleasure to deliver a series of lectures for Southern Tablelands Arts as part of a fascinating panel including the astronomer Kirsten Banks and the artists Khaled Sabsabi and Peter Swain. My illustrated lecture surveyed the extraordinary apparatus and complex visual cultures of astronomy as seen from an art historian’s perspective.

More information here: