At Buxton Contemporary, the Michael Buxton Collection and exhibition program of contemporary art is the foundation for academic engagement activities. Our Academic Engagement team welcomes teaching and learning collaborations with University of Melbourne colleagues through curricular and co-curricular opportunities engaging our exhibitions, the Collection and our expertise.

Dedicated sessions utilising Collection artworks can be hosted in our level one Education space, as well as tutorials or floor-talks in our exhibitions, or semester-long collaborations. We are experts at making contemporary art and artistic practice relevant to any discipline. Proudly situated at Southbank campus, we especially welcome enquiries from Faculty of Fine Arts and Music and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music colleagues.  

Our academic engagements to date have welcomed subjects from across the University; here are some examples:   


“Inspired by Buxton Contemporary and the nightshifts exhibition, students from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’s Concert Curation subject, led by Dr Joseph Lallo, developed their understanding of the artistic, audience and administrative elements of the concert experience. Students spent time in conversation with the nightshifts curators and in the gallery, researching the development, delivery and broader framework of a contemporary art exhibition. This engagement culminated in a public concert performance, Sona Eterna, which took the audience through the sleep cycle, and the gallery itself. 

Reflections from subject coordinator Joseph Lallo: 

nightshifts was a powerful and inspiring exhibition and the perfect catalyst for musical creation. 

Listening to the curators discuss the themes and ideas underpinning the exhibition provided invaluable insight for our students in how they frame their own performances and connect with audiences. 

The gallery became a meeting place for ideas and discussions between Curators, Artists, Producers, Performers and Composers. Working with both creative and production professionals equips our students with the skills to realise their own artistic projects. 

This collaboration offered an immersive, real-world learning experience culminating in a sold-out public performance. 

 The concert included the world-premiere performances of six new compositions written especially for Sona Eterna. 

 Student Feedback 

‘This subject challenged the way I view creative projects and the way I approach rehearsal schedules and situations.  I found this subject artistically invigorating, and it gave me an opportunity to explore performance avenues and develop a skillset not usually available to undergraduate students.’  

‘This subject gave each of us a large amount of freedom and agency to produce a creative product, and to think about the nature of our art, rather than focusing on technical craft like most of my University experience.’ 

‘All of our time in the space was so inspiring. Our first sound check and rehearsal where we workshopped ideas was a huge highlight.’ 

Student Highlights 

‘The concert and the opportunity to speak with the gallery curators.’ 

‘Formulating ideas and metanarratives which informed our programming and concert order and movements. Hearing other people’s creative ideas was really inspiring.’ 


VCA Dance Third Year Professional Placement 2023 

Third year VCA Dance student Zodie Bolic spent two weeks with the Buxton team across a variety of dates from June to October, as our nightshifts exhibition came to fruition.  

As part of her creative reflections on the experience, Zodie recorded a series of movement responses in the nightshifts exhibition and contributed an essay to nightshift papers, edited by curators Annika Aitken and Hannah Presley, and designed by Ela Egidy and Tristan Main. The series evolved throughout the exhibition duration, and includes new contributions by interdisciplinary writers, artists and creative thinkers.  

‘I had the pleasure of spending two weeks with the Buxton team across a variety of dates from June to October. In this period, I participated in a number of day-to-day Buxton activities, including artist management, operation and creation of public programs, their commissioning process, grant writing and more … These reflections are a sincere and genuine attempt by myself to capture the impact my experiences at Buxton had upon myself, and to show how inspiring the nightshifts exhibition was creatively, in the context of working on my graduation season.’ – Zodie Bolic 

Read Zodie’s essay, The Practice’ is the Practice.


The Surface Library

Bachelor of Design (Graphic Design)

Subject coordinators: Ela Edgidy, Lecturer in Design and Production, VCA and Narelle Desmond, Lecturer in Design, VCA

The Surface Library is the culmination of a research project undertaken by Graphic Design students in the University of Melbourne’s Bachelor of Design program.

This project was written in direct response to Nadine Christensen’s practice and delivered as a ‘Graphic Design Studio 3’ project by the students in the Bachelor of Design (Graphic Design) at the University of Melbourne in 2023. ‘Graphic Design Studio 3’ is the capstone subject for undergraduate students, understood as being a culmination of their three years of design education. This project puts object-based learning into practice within a cultural context, encouraging students to consider how we might use artworks to derive frameworks to closely read, understand and offer various interpretations of visuals.

The students’ task was to engage deeply with the textures, surfaces and materials present in Nadine Christensen’s artworks, and to employ diverse methods of interpretation and translation to uncover tangible, real-world instances of these materials.

The final output is a materials swatch wall, presented at Buxton Contemporary alongside Nadine Christensen’s exhibition Around. Think paint colour charts at Bunnings but with materials, textures and surfaces, featuring documentation of the real-world examples, and texts written by the students. The Surface Library invites audiences to rethink the existing conceptual/material relationships present within the artworks, and to engage with graphic design as both a method and means of enquiry.


Art Curatorship: behind-the-scenes talks from our curators on exhibition development.   

MSD Architecture studio: engaging Buxton Contemporary as a real-world case study for contemporary art museum design.   

Poetry (Creative Writing): exhibition introduction from our Teaching Associate and an in-gallery ekphrastic writing session.   

Electro-acoustic Music: exhibition visit with dedicated floor-talk by our Teaching Associate, followed by engagement with selected artworks, culminating in an end-of-semester concert of new compositions.   

Energy for Sustainable Development (Engineering): independent visit to the exhibition to view artworks relating to water use in the Rebecca Belmore: Turbulence exhibition, with targeted questions to answer, relating to sustainable energy use.    

Global Histories of Indigenous Activism (History): a lecture from artist Julie Gough, whose work was on display in the Observance exhibition.   

VCA Fine Arts Professional Practice: curator’s introduction to The Ants are in the Idiom, Susan Jacobs’ solo exhibition of newly-commissioned work.   

VCA Graphic Design Capstone: Zine-making in response to the Peter Tyndall survey exhibition.    

VCA Graphic Design (infographics): wayfinding designs for Buxton Contemporary.