Paola Colleoni is an art historian with expertise in the history and theory of 19th century architecture. Her interests include the relationships between identity and the built environment, especially religious architecture, and the study of art and architecture in the context of global imperial powers. Before joining the Academy of Visual Arts as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, she obtained her PhD from the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, where her position was part of a larger project funded by the Australian Research Council (2017-2020) which was recognised by the Excellence in Research for Australia program.
Paola has published peer-reviewed articles in Architectural History, MDCCC 1800, edited volumes published by Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Publishing, and she co-curated and edited the catalogue of the exhibition The Invention of Melbourne held at the Old Treasury Building Museum, Melbourne, from 1 August 2019 to 2 March 2020.
Funded by the Hong Kong Research Grant Committee, Paola’s research project Gothic at the Crossroads: Gothic Revival Architecture and Collecting Practices in the Asia Pacific Region builds upon the work undertaken for her doctoral dissertation in order to investigate 19th century architectural heritage and collections in several important cities of the region, including – but not limited to – Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Jakarta, Yangon, and Sydney. Her research focus is situated at the intersection of art and architectural history, provenance research, history of collections, material culture and heritage studies. By incorporating multiple histories and rediscovering the role played by often forgotten actors, Paola’s research investigates architecture and design as mediators of cross-cultural encounters, and by acknowledging the importance of global networks in the analysis of locally defined communities it reveals dynamic intercultural interactions across time and space.
As my research activities keep informing and enriching my teaching, in my classes I emphasise how ideas and artworks have always crossed borders, highlighting cross-cultural connections. When teaching art history, I invite students to engage directly with artworks, and I provide them with contextual information and theoretical frameworks to enhance their understanding. By proposing a global, transcultural approach and connecting tradition to modern and contemporary practice, my teaching invites students to expand their knowledge, challenge monocultural paradigms, and appreciate different perspectives, while also offering time for the future artists of AVA to reflect on the many influences that shape their own practice.