ACCA Book Club: The Stranger Artist: Quentin Sprague in conversation with John Kean

Wed 24 Jun 2020

This is a past program.
Online via Zoom
Free, registration essential and places are limited

Please direct all enquiries to us at: or call (+613) 9697 9999

Join us for ACCA Book Club, our new regular lunch-time online catch up about reading, writing and more. We invite a special guest and previous contributor to ACCA publications, to lead an open and active discussion with participants about a written work of their choice.

Next up, author Quentin Sprague will be in conversation with John Kean, about Sprague’s 2020 book, The Stranger Artist (published by Hardie Grant).

On registration you will receive a unique zoom link and a preview extract of this book (for your eyes only). If you don’t have a copy of the book, you can purchase one from the following bookstores: Booktopia; Readings.



Set amid the striking landscapes of the East Kimberley, The Stranger Artist follows the story of Tony Oliver, an ex-gallerist who in the late 1990s finds himself deeply immersed in the world of a group of senior Gija artists. The bonds he forms with renowned painters Paddy Bedford and Freddie Timms backdrop the establishment of Jirrawun Arts, an organisation that quickly becomes one of the most successful and controversial centres of Australia’s acclaimed Aboriginal art movement. As Oliver shares not only the artists’ many successes, but their tragedies too, his own life’s trajectory will forever be altered. The Stranger Artist is an enthralling account of a decade in art, and life between cultures: a sensitive yet unflinching portrait of both darkness and light.


Quentin Sprague is a Geelong-based writer who has worked variously as an academic, curator, art coordinator and artist. His essays and criticism have regularly appeared in publications including The Monthly, The Australian, Art & Australia and Discipline, as well as artist monographs and exhibition catalogues. Between 2007 and 2009 he lived on the Tiwi Islands and in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia, where he worked for Aboriginal arts organisations. Sprague contributed an essay to the ACCA publication accompanying the 2016 exhibition, Painting. More Painting.

John Kean has published extensively on Indigenous art and the representation of nature in Australian museums since the 1970s. Previously Kean was Art Advisor at Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd from 1977-79; the inaugural Exhibition Coordinator at Tandanya: the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, 1989-92; Exhibition Coordinator, Fremantle Art Centre 1993-96; and Producer at Museums Victoria 1996 -2010. Kean is currently a doctoral candidate at in Art History at the University of Melbourne.