From Brown Council to Barbara Cleveland

In 2016 we changed our collective title from Brown Council to Barbara Cleveland. It had become clear to us that ‘brown’ was not a term we could continue to use as a collective of four white women, due to the power and solidarity the term ‘brown’ has as an identity politic. We acknowledge the role that white privilege had in this oversight and in our lack of understanding of the complexities of this term. We would like to thank those who raised these issues and advised us on this process. We are open to engaging in further dialogue where and when appropriate with respect to First Nations and POC voices.


Barbara Cleveland is an Australian artist collective directed by Diana Baker Smith, Frances Barrett, Kate Blackmore, and Kelly Doley, working on Gadigal land (Sydney). Previously working under the title of Brown Council, the collective transitioned to Barbara Cleveland in 2016. The collective take their name from the mythic feminist performance artist who they recovered from the margins of Australian art history and who has been a key feature in their work since 2010.

Barbara Cleveland’s projects are informed by queer and feminist methodologies that draw on the historical lineages of both the visual and performing arts.  Their recent video and performance works are deliberations on history and memory as embodied action, as fiction, as mode of collaboration.

Their most recent projects have been presented at 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2018 Adelaide Biennial,  Art Gallery of NSW (Sydney), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Artspace (Sydney), Monash University Museum of Art (Melbourne), Australian Experimental Art Foundation (Adelaide), The Physics Room (Christchurch), National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, (Seoul) and Hayward Gallery (London).

Their works are held in the collections of Artbank, Museum of Contemporary Art, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Monash University Museum of Art, Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art and the Art Gallery of NSW.


Barbara Cleveland are represented by sullivan+strumpf