Dr Melissa Laird (Exec Dir Learning and Teaching)

Dr Melissa Laird

Executive Director Learning and Teaching

As Executive Director, Learning and Teaching at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) Melissa actively engages in research, and nurtures a culture of practice-based scholarship across the organisation.

Melissa is interested in the possibilities for practice as a scholarly activity, and is engaged in writing of curricula and course materials which reflect contemporary attitudes and policy.

Supporting unique learning environments for directors, writers, performers, designers, technicians, staging specialists, voice pedagogues and cultural leaders, she develops communities of practice which enhance learning and teaching at the Institute. Melissa is also interested to develop these communities of practice between students, staff and practitioner-scholars and professionals outside of the organisation. Melissa and her staff support students in their transition from undergraduate to graduate study through the recently TEQSA-accredited suite of Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts courses offered at the Institute.

A material culture practitioner-scholar, Melissa originally trained in graphic design. Her research frames ephemeral, transient and fragmentary artefacts as significant models for historical study and object-based artwork. She has exhibition and published outcomes, and has presented at conferences in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. She exhibited at the UNESCO World Heritage listed Hyde Park Barracks Museum Sydney in 2009 and has received numerous awards for her sculptural work.

Awards include: Distinguished Teaching Award from the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS) 2014, Artist in Residency Award for 'Breath', Sculpture in the Vineyards 2012; Groundswell Project People’s Choice Award in ‘Hidden: A Sculpture Walk’ at Rookwood Necropolis 2010, Cessnock Regional Art Gallery Sculpture Award 2011.

Qualifications include: Doctor of Philosophy (University of Technology Sydney, Sydney) 2009, Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment (WEA, Sydney) 2006, Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design (Design Centre Enmore, Sydney), 1999, Certificate II Fashion Design (Dress Design Studio, East Sydney Technical College, Sydney), 1981.

Recent publication, exhibition and conference presentations include:

2017 Publication Chapter (upcoming): Ramburuth, P. and Laird, M. in Chemi, T. & Du, X. (Eds.). ‘Approaches to enhancing student learning: A quality-assured, creative and performing-arts model’, Arts-based Methods and Organisational Learning: Higher Education around the World. Series: Palgrave Studies in Business, Arts and Humanities.

2017 Conference presentation (upcoming): Thinking through Practice: Enhancing ‘maker-cultures’ through material culture and creative-arts pedagogy. Making Futures 2017: Making Thinking – Crafting Education. Plymouth College of Art and Design. UK (September 20 – 22).

2016 Thinly Veiled: Material performativity and the ‘staged’curtain, Popular Culture in Australia and New Zealand (PopCAANZ) 7th Annual International Conference, University of Sydney (29 June1 July)

2016 E-book publication: Fragments Cloth and Memory Material culture research, Inter-Disciplinary.net

2015 Conference Presentation: Design Narratives for Fashion, Fashion Tales: Feeding the Imaginary 2015, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy (June 18–20)

2015 Exhibition: Imaginarium Sacred Vanitas, Hidden: A Sculpture Walk, Rookwood Necropolis, Sydney (October)

2014 Conference Presentation: Material culture research at the heart of fashion assessment, ‘6th Global Conference Fashion: Critical Issues’, Mansfield College, Oxford University, UK (September 1518)

2014 Publication: Chapter and cover: ‘Remnant and Reliquary’, in Writing for creative and performing arts doctoral projects: Challenges and diversity, Libri, UK.

2013 Conference Presentation: Devotion: Material culture research and the convict love token, ‘The Radicalism of Romantic Love: Critical Perspectives’, Australian National University, Canberra (November 56)

2013 Conference Presentation: Frailty and passion: Threadwork for the Musée de Mort, ‘Embellished Textiles: Interpretation and Care of Fine Needlework in Museums and Historic Houses’, University of Wolverhampton (June 12)

2013 Seminar Presentation: Threads: Fragmentary traces of a PhD, ‘Postgraduate Design, History, Material Culture Research Seminar’, UTS (February 12)

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