Directory of
Higher degree by research students

Stephen Nova


About me

I am currently undertaking my Masters by Research (Visual Arts & Creative Practice) within the school of art, architecture & design at the University of South Australia. I am also a research assistant with the Vernacular Knowledge Research Group at UniSA, working within the interdisciplinary field of digital humanities documenting living and built cultural heritage. My main research interests explore creative and imaginative drawing practices to interpret and re-envisage tangible and intangible culture to activate heritage narratives connected to social and spatial histories of place.

Awarded the Architecture Museum (Higher Degree Research) Travel Grant in 2018, UniSA.


Drawing and Imagining Antonio's Journal

A Maltese Migrant Experience of the Unemployed Camps on the Torrens River during the Great Depression 1930 - 1938 

Considered within the framework of my study is how Antonio’s fictional journal can be used to create an inclusive space to express contemporary themes of home, migration and a diaspora community set against the past of a social and cultural milieu of an economic depression. The historical context for the fictional journal follows the story of Antonio Cini. A Maltese migrant who lived in an unemployed camp on the banks of the Torrens River in South Australia, during the Great Depression of the 1930s. What makes his story fascinating is the tent hut he constructed from hessian canvas and recycled material. A home he decorated and painted to resemble a red brick cottage. Antonio’s personal story and his hut offers an intimate social historical perspective to locate the imagination to re-visit and examine core meanings of home as a space by which one can recognize the self are emphasized. 

Situated within the field of visual art, this research is informed by trans-disciplinary discourse across the fields of architecture and anthropology. Imagining Antonio’s fictional journal embodies a methodology of ‘being through drawing’ that draws upon anthropologist Tim Ingold’s concept to‘think through making’. Ingold describes a creative process of improvised enquiry that promotes an awareness of the relationship between the properties and life processes of material to the environment. By introducing the fictional journal as a situated space for the drawing writing and thinking, the aim of this research is to expand on Ingold’s ideas of material flow to include those things where no physical trace of an artefact remains. An imaginative and emic space to acknowledge and bring to light stories of social history and human experience found between the ephemeral residue of material culture and the interstices of digital archives.

Research publications

A short Article I wrote about the unemployed camps on the Torrens River, Trove (National Library of Australia)


Digital Transformations

Vernacular Knowledge Research Group

TLC Map (Time Layered Cultural Map of Australia Project)