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Photography by Craig K. Reasons, Sofie Dieu and Alex Talamo

“Live performance exists only in the moment it is being performed. Its ephemeral nature means it is transient and impermanent and cannot be experienced again in precisely the same way.

How do artists hold on to the works that they make? What of the invisible labour that is rarely acknowledged or named?

Over the last ten years, performance artist Leisa Shelton has completed a series of participatory artworks which focus on the mutability of the archive: gathering audience testimonies and mapping artistic lineages.


Now her new show, Archiving the Ephemeral, brings five works together in a beautifully curated installation.


Archiving the Ephemeral is a celebration of the artist, the artistic process, and the audience experience.”


Kate Hunter. THE CONVERSATION/ APRIL 19, 2023.

Archiving The Ephemeral – April 14th - 22nd, 2023

Part Retrospective, part new work, part provocation – Archiving the Ephemeral was a major survey exhibition and  the outcome of a 4yr artist in residence with the  Abbotsford Convent, which began in 2018 with addendum;.


It is the only time all of these works have been accessible to the public with the majority of the projects having been commissioned and presented nationally and internationally, across the last 10yrs. Having these works presented  alongside one another provided an opportunity for the body of work to be experienced as an evolving conversation, each new project  a responsive reflection on the previous work.  It also created an environment for audiences to reflect on the value and role of artists within our society, and the potential to create dialogue and action for the future toward greater recognition for Australian artists and the creation of archiving processes more aligned with our unique cultural heritage here in Australia.

“Shelton captures living moments of her own practice, and the interactive nature and importance of audience participation through spoken and written feedback, as well as highlighting the importance of our oral tradition and conversations as a means to remembering and reflecting on art as a performative medium.” 

Mem Capp. ARTSHUB REVIEW. 20.04.2023

Present and activated in the space were MAPPING, ARCHIVE & SCRIBE alongside the next stage of addendum; and a new work Performing the Archive with renowned contemporary artists, Jill Orr and Stelarc, merging exhibition, live performance and participatory public engagement across two full weeks.

"We are not just witnessing one artist’s body of work. Archiving the Ephemeral focuses on the need for greater visibility, recognition and honouring of Australia’s experimental and independent artists, and speaks to the many collaborations, associations, and intricate connections that mark a significant – if unacknowledged – cultural legacy. "


Full details on each individual work are held here on this website.

Live art exists only while it is being performed, and then it disappears. How do we create an archive of the ephemeral?

By Kate Hunter

Published: 19 April 2023


Live performance exists only in the moment it is being performed. Its ephemeral nature means it is transient and impermanent, and cannot be experienced again in precisely the same way. How do artists hold.....

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Leisa Shelton is archiving our responses to art.

By Sally Gearon

Published: 18 April 2023


Leisa Shelton has been making performance art for over 30 years. For the last 10, her work has involved a variety of archiving—and much of it is entirely accidental. It’s the result of a snowballing effort to capture audience responses and engagement to experimental shows and festivals across the world. Now, for the first time, .....

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Five major works honouring the role of Australian artists in society.

By Mem Capp

Published: 20 April 2023

Imagine a cavernous space filled with the quiet whisperings of uniform-clad young women performing laundry services: the smell of starch permeating the air, the place a hive of activity under.....

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