Kim Mahood - The Writer as Cartographer

‘I am someone who returns again and again to geography, as the writers of another generation returned repeatedly to Freud and psychoanalysis.’

This quote from Barry Lopez encapsulates Kim Mahood’s preoccupations as a writer and artist, and reflects her conviction that geography is central to shaping who we are.

Her first book, Craft for a Dry Lake, was structured as a journey. The spine of the narrative was an actual journey, a story that unfolded as she travelled, with incidents and encounters that propelled it forward even as the past inserted itself and shed light on the present.

Her second book, Position Doubtful, is structured like a map. It is about maps and map-making, and the process of writing it was a form of cartography. As her experience of the country became ever more layered and complex, the progression from journey to map was a natural one.

Kim Mahood is the author of the award-winning memoir Craft for a Dry Lake (2000), and Position Doubtful (2016), which explores the relationships between Aboriginal and settler Australians, and between people, art and country in the Tanami Desert. Her essays have been published in art, literary and public affairs journals. The essay Kartiya are like Toyotas – white workers on Australia’s cultural frontier, has become a standard text for the induction of newcomers working in remote Aboriginal communities. She co-edited the book Desert Lake: art, science and stories from Paruku (2013). Her artwork is held in state, territory and regional collections.

Date & time

Thu 26 Jul 2018, 12pm


Jean Martin Room, Beryl Rawson Building, 13 Ellery Crescent, Acton, ANU, ACT 2601


Kim Mahood

Event series


National Centre of Biography


Nicole McLennan


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