Storymaking Belonging


  • Tracey Bunda University of Southern Queensland
  • Robyn Heckenberg
  • Kim Snepvangers The University of New South Wales, Sydney: Art & Design
  • Louise Gwenneth Phillips The University of Queensland
  • Alexandra Lasczik Southern Cross University
  • Alison L. Black University of the Sunshine Coast



Indigenous women, White women, storying, belonging, ancestry, place, making, stitching


Sometimes data invites more of us. To be physically held and touched, through hands creating and crafting with matter, cultivating a closer connection to the fibres, threads, textures and sinews of data. Through touching and shaping the materiality of data, other beings, places and times are aroused. Here, we share the story of data that invited more of us and how this has spurred the creation of an exhibition titled Stories of Belonging with Indigenous and non-Indigenous artist/scholars for an arts festival in Queensland, Australia. This work by the collective, SISTAS Holding Space, deeply interrogates our ontological positionality as researchers, in particular what this means in the Australian context – a colonised nation populated through waves of migration.  The scars of colonization, migration and shame are held and heard through Black and White Australian women creating and interrogating belonging alongside each other – listening and holding space for each other. We air the pains of ontological destruction, silencing, disconnection and emptiness. Through experimental making research methodology, we argue the primacy of storying and making, and for provoking resonant and entangled understandings of belonging and displacement.

Author Biographies

Tracey Bunda, University of Southern Queensland

Tracey Bunda is a Ngugi/Wakka Wakka woman and Head of the College for Indigenous Studies, Education and Research at the University of Southern Queensland. Tracey has worked in the field of Indigenous Higher Education for over 30 years during which time she has led Indigenous higher education. As a critical theorist, her research focuses on institutional and ideological positions that inform relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and she sees this work as foundational to the process of de-colonisation. Tracey’s most current work takes a creative re-direct to investigate the ways in which research can be framed through storying.

Robyn Heckenberg,

Robyn Heckenberg islecturer in Indigenous Studies, College for Indigenous Studies, Education and Research.She is a Wiradjuri woman and member of Possum Dreaming. Her research interests include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies inclusive of Environmental Knowledge, Art Theory and Criticism. As a visual artist she has particular theoretical concern for the ways in which Country can be cared for, taking account of place pedagogy through river history and Wiradjuri missions. Her creative work extends to exhibitions and artistic interpretation of place – see the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk, Murray River, Albury. Robyn is a Member of Art Education Australia (AEA), Society of the History of Emotions (formerly CHE) and the Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE).

Kim Snepvangers, The University of New South Wales, Sydney: Art & Design

Kim Snepvangers is Associate Professor and Director, Professional Experience & Engagement Projects at UNSW Sydney: Art & Design. As the recipient of a recent UNSW Strategic Educational Fellowship: New Approaches to the Development of Professional Identity through Independent Critical Reflection, her research interweaves creative and professional industry contexts.  Working with Indigenous collaborators and cultural mentors on exhibition projects engages her history with dissensus to challenge dominance of progress narratives. Her research engages visualisation with creative ecologies, critically reflective frameworks and embodied pedagogies. She has extensive research experience in developing transitional educative spaces between academic, creative and professional practice.

Louise Gwenneth Phillips, The University of Queensland

Louise Phillips is a fifth generation white Australian, who teaches and researches in the School of Education at The University of Queensland. Louise’s career spans theatre in education, early childhood education, storytelling, environmental education, children’s rights and citizenship research, and arts-based research methodologies. She is particularly interested in story as theory and method illustrated through co-authoring the Routledge book Research Through, With and As Storying with Tracey Bunda. Her work also seeks inclusion of children’s political rights see and the Routledge 2019 co-authored book Young Children’s Community Building in Action: Embodied, Emplaced and Relational Citizenship.

Alexandra Lasczik, Southern Cross University

Alexandra Lasczik (formerly Cutcher) is Associate Processor, Arts & Education, in the School of Education, Southern Cross University, Gold Coast Campus. She is currently Research Leader and founder of the Creativity, Arts and Education Research Group (CreAre) and Chair of the Arts-based Educational Research (ABER) SIG for the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Alexandra was recognised nationally for her teaching and research in Visual Arts education, most recently as a recipient of a prestigious OLT (Office for Learning and Teaching, Australian Government) Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning. Her work synthesises the Arts, teaching and research, and she is best known as an ABER methodologist. In 2016 she was awarded Southern Cross University, School of Education Researcher of the Year.

Alison L. Black, University of the Sunshine Coast

Ali Black is a narrative researcher and early childhood educator. Her arts-based research and scholarly work fosters connectedness, community, wellbeing and meaning-making through the building of reflective and creative lives and identities. Ali’s storied and visual methodological approaches dismantle personal/professional binaries to re-present the lived life. Her research and writing highlights the transformative power and impact of collaborative and relational knowledge construction.


Agosín, M. (1996). Tapestries of hope, threads of love: The arpillera movement in Chile 1974-1994. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Barad, K. (2014). On touching —The unhuman that therfore I am (v1.1). In S. Witzgall & K. Stakemeier (Eds.), Power of material/politics of materiality (pp. 153-164). Berlin: Diaphanes.

Cutcher, A. J. (2015). Displacement, identity and belonging: An auto/biographical and arts-based portrayal of ethnicity & experience. Rotterdam, NL: Sense Publishers.

Deleuze, G. (1990). The logic of sense. [C. Boundas, Trans]. New York: Columbia University Press.

Grosz, E. (2008). Chaos, territory, art: Deleuze and the framing of the Earth. New York: Columbia University Press.

Guardado, M. (2002). Loss and maintenance of first language skills: Case studies of Hispanic families in Vancouver. Canadian Modern Language Review, 58(3), 341-363.

Hatoss, A. (2004). Multiculturalism and mother tongue maintenance–the case of the Hungarian diaspora in Queensland. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 27(2), 18-3.

Heckenberg, I. (2018, May 18/20). River music: Yindyamarra milawa bila. Commissioned for performance Yindyamarra Bila Yiramal Ngurambang Milawa Wirramarri, Maranggaal in “Stories of Belonging,” Brisbane, AU.

Heckenberg, R. (2016). Learning in place, cultural mapping and sustainable values on the Millawa Billa (Murray River). The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education,45(1), 1-10. doi:10.1017/jie.2015.23

hooks, b. (1995). Writing autobiography. In M. Blair, J. Holland, & S, Sheldon (Eds.), Identity and diversity: Gender and the experience of education (pp. 3-7). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Joannidis, C. (2013). Homecoming. International Forum of Psychoanalysis 22(3), 133-141.

Lasczik Cutcher, A. (2018). Moving-with & moving-through homelands, languages

& memory: An arts-based walkography. Rotterdam, NL: Brill Sense Publishers.

Libraries Tasmania Online Collection. (n.d.). Hope Surgeon’s journal. Retrieved from$init=CON19-1-3p135

MacLure, M. (2013). The wonder of data. Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies, 13(4), 228-232.

McGahey, T. & Lasczik Cutcher, A. (2015). Gypsy [Recorded by T. McGahey]. On Cloud 9 [CD Album]. Nashville, TN: Tahlia McGahey Productions.

Nicolacopoulos, T., & Vassilacopoulos, G. (2014). Indigenous sovereignty and the being of the occupier: Manifesto for a white Australian philosophy of origins. Melbourne, AU: Re.Press.

Pink, S (2015). Doing sensory ethnography (2nded). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Richardson, L. (1999). Feathers in our cap. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 28(6), 660-668. doi:10.1177/089124199129023767

Snowber, C., & Bickel, B. (2015). Companions with mystery: Arts, spirit, and the ecstatic. In C. Leggo, S. Walsh, & B. Bickel (Eds.), Arts-based and contemplative practices in research and teaching: Honouring presence (pp. 67-87). New York, NY: Routledge.

Walsh, S., & Bai, H. (2015). Writing witness consciousness. In C. Leggo, S. Walsh, & B. Bickel (Eds.), Arts-based and contemplative practices in research and teaching: Honouring presence (pp. 24-44). New York, NY: Routledge.




How to Cite

Bunda, T., Heckenberg, R., Snepvangers, K., Phillips, L. G., Lasczik, A., & Black, A. L. (2019). Storymaking Belonging. Art/Research/International:/A/Transdisciplinary/Journal, 4(1), 153–179.