Alison Carroll has worked with Asia-Australian art for 40 years.
Like almost all Australian art historians of her generation, she studied European art at university, though travelling extensively in Asia. In Sri Lanka, in 1982, she realised, despite six years of university art history study, she had never previously heard of the great sites of Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Anuradhapura. It was a realisation that led to research and curating East and West, the meeting of Asian and European Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1985, which again made her realise the paucity of material on post 1900 Asian art especially in Australia. She went on to curate further exhibitions and undertake research travel in Asia, all of which led her to establish Asialink Arts in 1990, under the wider Asialink umbrella. In 1991 Asialink itself came under the umbrella of the University of Melbourne.
The early 1990s were important ones for Australia-Asia relations, with a Government proactively supporting ventures and the general tenor extremely positive for engagement. The activities Alison was able to initiate are in part due to this.
She has written and spoken about, and taught aspects of Asian art and engagement with Asia extensively in Australia and Asia since the 1980s. She has been appointed to various Government boards for her expertise and awarded the Australia Council’s Emeritus Medal and Membership of the Order of Australia for her work.