Kitty Owens is a Melbourne freelance history curator, writer and artist.
Kitty makes work about history across several disciplines, with a playful and poetic approach.
Originally trained as an artist, Kitty has an intermittent art practice based on history and memory, often using print formats in a serial manner, initially as artists books, more recently as public art. She has been working in the museum sector for over twenty years, including five years as a Roving Curator for AMaGA Victoria, helping community museums to tell their stories through exhibitions, and also as a freelance history curator. Kitty also write essays, poetry and short stories.
Kitty’s work subverts sentimental and simplistic ideas about the past, revealing people like us, who made their way in worlds similar but different to ours. Kitty loves to tell forgotten stories, and to bring back the wonderful company of the dead, or at least provide glimpses of them.
2000 Post Graduate Diploma, Museum Studies, Deakin University
1997 BA (Fine Art) Honours, First Class, RMIT
2021 Creative Workers in Schools, working as a history curator and artist, collaborating with primary school children on creative responses to local history, and to decorative arts in a local house museum.
2018 Winner of the Victorian Community History Award for Historical Interpretation for the Roving Curator Program assisted exhibition Wangaratta Stories, with collaborators Wangaratta Historical Society and Wangaratta Art Gallery.
2017 Author of sector report Local Government & Cultural Collections in Victoria
2014- 2019 Delivered the Roving Curator Program, as Exhibition Services Manager for the Australian Museums and Galleries Association Victoria.
2011-14 Curator Collections, Koorie Heritage Trust
2012 Artist in Resident, Casual Program Development, Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens, City of Greater Dandenong
2011 Freelance Curator and Writer Interpretation Plan for Clunes Interpretation & Community Centre with Barbara Wels, for Hepburn Shire Council
2021 Shortlisted for the Write Around the Murray short story competition.
2021 Text for Turning Back to the Creek, A postal exhibition about Edgars Creek in Thomastown and Lalor, for Ziebell’s Farmhouse Museum and Heritage Garden
2020 Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature commission for zine-like mini history of Coburg Lake
2018 Digital Story Summon the Living, Bells in Victorian community collections, Victorian Collections website
2017 Digital Story Another Night, A short history of lighting illustrated through Victorian cultural collections Victorian Collections website
2015 Writer in Residence, Old Melbourne Gaol, partnership program between Writers Victoria and the National Trust of Victoria
2015 Second Prize Moreland Short Story Award, Adult Category
2015 Commended, FAW John Shaw Neilson Poetry Award
2014 Second Prize, Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Award
2020 Artist in Residence Moreland City Council. A six month part-time residency, focussing on connecting residence with people and places from the past, providing solace during the Melbourne Lock Down 2.0, projects included installations of paste-ups of historic photos from the Spanish Flu epidemic, bookmarks with photos of mothers and babies 100 years ago, as gifts and momentos for new mothers, distributed through the maternal health service, as well as ‘stained glass’ style decals by children, and a co-produced short film about Coburg Lake, with Albert Di Troia, based on footage from the National Film and Sound Archive.
2017 Paste ups and large vinyl prints based on historic photographs, for the City of Yarra, celebrating 100 years of Maternal and Child Health, curated by Cassie May
2012 Requiem charcoal drawing and installation, for the exhibition Coming Home, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, about the site’s history as a military rehabilitation hospital for sufferers of ‘shell shock’.
1998 The Book of Smoke, for the City of Moonee Valley, Up in Smoke Installation Exhibition, site specific to the Walter Burley Griffen Incinerator in Essendon
2014 Party in the Lilac Room, Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens
2013 The Little Ones, Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens
2012 Fever: Artists books 1993-2012, the Niches, City Library Melbourne
2009 Acquisitive prize, Moreland Sculpture Show (with Mary Zbierski West)
2007 Ephemeral prize, Moreland Sculpture Show (with Mary Zbierski West)
Selected Group Exhibitions
2011 Potato Revolution, Williamsburg Art and Historical Centre, Brooklyn
2010 The Womens’ Salon; Place and Identity, The Counihan Gallery, Brunswick
2009 Moreland Sculpture Show, Coburg
2008 The Humble Spud, Marrickville City Council & At the Vanishing Point Gallery, Sydney
2008 Current Sculpture Challenge, Current Sculpture Biennial, Wangaratta
2007 Moreland Sculpture Show, Coburg
2006 Moreland Sculpture Show, Coburg
2005 Current, North Eastern Victoria Sculpture Event, Wangaratta
1998-2002 Hi/Lo Exotico, Stop 22 Gallery, St. Kilda, toured to Colombia, and then Canberra Contemporary Art Space in 2002
1998 Miniatures, Roar Studios, Fitzroy
1997 Private Archives, Personal Encyclopaedias and Secret Collections, The Linden, St Kilda
1997 RMIT Graduating and Honours Printmaking Exhibition, 101 Collins Street Annexe
1994 Box, Book and Glove, RMIT Union Arts Exhibition Space, Melbourne
1994 Freemantle Print Award, artists’ book section, Freemantle Arts Centre
Coming Home exhibition provides moving insight into Bundoora Homestead’s war history
November 27, 2014, The Age and SMH, Penny Webb
Coming Home exhibition 7.30 Report ABC 20 November
La Salle University(Singapore)
Moreland City Council
RMIT University School of Business