Thoughtlines: The art of Ruark Lewis, 1982 - 2014

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Thoughtlines Cover & Spine.jpg
kiosk RLEWIS.jpg
Thoughtlines Cover & Spine.jpg

Thoughtlines: The art of Ruark Lewis, 1982 - 2014

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PP. 264, colour illustrations
ISBN 978-0-9946323-0-2

By Dr James Paull
Edition: softcover 

Price: AUD$75.00

 THOUGHTLINES - The first complete monograph on Ruark Lewis’s work

Born in 1960, Ruark Lewis is today acknowledged as one of Australia’s most intriguing yet elusive contemporary artists. His exploration of place and time has seen him work in a truly hybrid manner with language, performance, sound, installation, painting and sculpture. The result is a poetic output of inter-disciplinary character.

Lewis has exhibited and performed extensively since 1987 including the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the Art Galleries of New South Wales and South Australia, the Berlin Poetry Festival and the Sprengel Museum, Hannover. Recently two major surveys in Sydney chronicled the artist’s output over a period of thirty years. Exhibition curator James Paull worked closely with Lewis on these shows recording interviews, unpacking the archives and planning the creation of new works. This has been an opportunity to catalogue the artist’s output, as well as to examine the plethora of models and prototypes and all the planning documents of his major projects.

Thoughtlines is the outcome: the first complete monograph on Lewis detailing a career stretching over three decades. It includes contributions from those who have closely followed Lewis’s remarkable journey: writer and thinker Paul Carter, who has collaborated with the artist, and a critical reflection by art historian Ian McLean. In response to his artistic partnership with Yolngu artist Barayuwa Mununggurr, anthropologist Dianne Johnson and linguist-translator Bengitj Ngurruwuthun have compiled accounts of Lewis’s more recent creative fieldtrips to North East Arnhem Land.


Thoughtlines is a book that is itself a work of art. It documents and details the career of one of the finest contemporary Australian artists, and like Lewis himself the book is at once formal and experimental, beautifully crafted, poetic. It exists in a space where writing and images rub up against each other, inviting imaginative reflection. Lewis has always been interested in translation, transcription, cultural encounters where misunderstandings and disorientation can generate new ways of seeing. This book conveys his spirited engagement with a wide range of materials, performative modalities, collaborators. In these past 3 decades his increasing focus on the public sphere, and Aboriginal art in particular, continues an artistic practice that is always original, startling and elegant.” Lesley Stern

“you think it's not a Lewis, then you turn it over and it is” Chris Mann

Winner AAANZ Best Anthology Prize 2018

From the judges: We were very impressed with the evident care and consideration that was given to this publication, which represents a significant contribution to the documentation/interpretation of the more experimental and poetic forms of Australian contemporary art practice. Lewis’ complex and multiform output presents obvious challenges to the traditionally more restrictive and defined parameters of art historical monograph/art museum exhibitions/catalogue. The fact that the publication was sponsored by Sydney Non Objective Contemporary Art Projects is significant in itself and the resulting book is a pleasure to read – multi–layered and truly inter-disciplinary, with thoughtful and searching contributions from a diverse range of perspectives, including that of art history, anthropology, linguistics, etc. It is also produced to a high editorial standard, with excellent illustrations/graphic design qualities that integrate a wide-ranging and diverse set of practices/images into an elegant and consistent whole. As such “The Art of Ruark Lewis” should stand for many years as a significant point of reference for anyone seeking to create a comparable publication dealing with Australian artistic practice along these lines.

Judges: Jaynie Anderson and Christopher Marshall

Format: Paper back
Size: 270 x 240 mm
Pages: 264 pp
Illustrations: 360 illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-9946323-0-2

Harry Williamson


Dr James Paull is a curator,
teacher, librarian, freelance
writer and researcher.

Professor Ian McLean is the
Hugh Ramsay Chair of
Australian Art History,
at the University of Melbourne

Bengitj Ngurruwuthun is the
resident translator, linguist and
researcher at Buku-Larnggay
Mulka Centre, Yirrkala.

Dr Dianne Johnson (1947-
2012) was an anthropologist,
writer and researcher whose
interests included Indigenous
history and social justice.

Paul Carter is a writer, historian
and artist. He is Professor of
Design/Urbanism at the School
of Architecture and Design at

Andrew Leslie is an artist and
director of SNO Contemporary
Art Projects.