Creativity without Borders? Rethinking remoteness and proximity

By Chris Gibson, Susan Luckman & Julie Willoughby-Smith, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia; University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia; University of South Australia, Adelaide in Australian Geographer, 41: 1. Online publication date 18 February 2010.


This article examines remoteness and proximity as geographical conditions and metaphors. It stems from a large government-funded research project which sought to examine the extent and uniqueness of the creative industries in Darwin* a small but important city in Australia's tropical Top End region, and government and administration capital of the sparsely populated Northern Territory.

In talking to creative artists from diverse fields about their work and inspiration, it became clear that geographical positionality was a key framing device through which people understood themselves and their relationships with others. Remoteness and proximity were tangible in the sense of physical distances (Darwin is remote from southern States, and yet proximate to Asia and Aboriginal country).

But Darwin's location was also perceived and imagined, in cultural texts, in creative workers' discussions of Darwin in relation to the outside world, and in their sense of the aesthetic qualities of the city's creative output (particularly shaped by multicultural and Aboriginal influences). We develop our analysis from 98 interviews with creative workers and postal surveys returned by 13 festival organisers in Darwin.

Qualities of distance, proximity, isolation and connection materially shape a political economy of creative industry production, and infuse how creative workers view their activities within networks of trade, exchange and mobility.

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