ACU Conference Explores the Arts & the Sacred

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
20 Jul 2015

ACU will hold its third Conference on Grounding the Sacred through Literature and the Arts at Strathfield this week

National and international artists, writers, musicians, theologians and people of different faiths will come together this week to ask where creativity sits in relation to religion and the search for meaning.

From Thursday, 23 July until Sunday 26 July, the Australian Catholic University (ACU) will host the third of its unique Sacred Through Literature and the Arts Conferences at the university's Strathfield Campus.

The four-day conference will explore whether the arts provide a common ground for people of different faiths, and if the arts are a conduit between the divine and the everyday. In addition to keynote speakers, readings, presentations of more than 60 papers, performances and panels, the Conference will feature an outstanding exhibition of paintings by the Papunya Tula Artists and Warlayirti Artists of Balgo at the University's McGlade Gallery, provided by collector and authority on Indigenous Art, Lloyd Graham.

Award winning author David Malouf will be one of the keynote speakers at ACU's Conference on Grounding the Sacred in Literature and the Arts

Among the wide ranging keynote addresses from such luminaries as Glasgow University's Thaddeus Metz, Vivien Johnson from the University of Johannesburg and US-based Australian philosopher-poet Kevin Hart, will be a discussion between Australia's award-winning writer, David Malouf and prolific Scottish author David Jasper, Professor of Theology and Literature at the University of Glasgow.

Tipped to be one of the highlights of the conference, the discussion between the pair is one of the few events also open to the public. In addition to conference delegates, members of the public can hear Professor Jasper and David Malouf in conversation at the Gleeson Auditorium from 6 to 7.30 pm on Friday, 24 July.

For non-delegates the entry fee of $20 can be paid at the door.

Another highlight promises to be the address by Imam Afroz Ali, founder and President of the Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences & Human Development who will speak on the expression of the sacred in Islam.

Recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey will perform at ACU's Grounding the Sacred through Literature and Arts four day conference this week

Well-known Australian columnist and non-fiction author Michael McGirr will also give an address which will explore the works of Jesuit poet Peter Steele while acclaimed Australian novelist and essayist Carmel Bird will speak on the ways in which fiction draws the reader in towards contemplation of a sacred object.

In addition to the many outstanding writers, theologians, poets and artists, the Conference will include a series of not-to-be missed musical performances by soprano Jolene Griffith accompanied on piano by Bradley Gilchrist and by recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacy.

This week's conference is one of the many events hosted by ACU as part of the university's 25th anniversary celebrations.

Last week, ACU's Melbourne Campus took centre stage as the host of the 25th International Federation of Catholic Universities' Assembly and was attended by delegates from Catholic universities worldwide.

ACU, which has campuses in Melbourne, North Sydney, Strathfield, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane and Ballarat is Australia's only truly national university and as from September this year, will also offer students the opportunity to study in Rome as part of their degree.

ACU's Rome Centre will open its doors in just over six weeks' time.

Vice Chancellor of ACU, Professor Greg Craven

A joint initiative between ACU and the Catholic University of America, the Centre on Rome's Janiculum Hill will offer study and research opportunities for students and academics from both universities and will feature living quarters for undergraduates, a wing for post graduate students, apartments for visiting faculty members, a chapel, a garden and other amenities.

In addition to the Rome Study Centre, ACU is also liaising with other international Catholic universities to ensure that by 2017 at least 12.5% of all its Australian undergraduates in Sydney and at campuses in other cities, have the opportunity to study overseas as part of their degree.

"The International Federation of Catholic Universities is the largest network of universities anywhere in the world," says ACU Vice Chancellor Greg Craven, pointing out there are 219 member universities within the Federation including such well-known institutions as the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, the Catholic University of Paris and Georgetown University in the USA.

Works from the Papunya Tula Artists and Warlayirti Artists of Balgo will be exibited at ACU's McGlade Gallery as part of the Conference