Tender Places

Tender Places was a creative doctoral research project, exploring ecological and social justice, through the settler body, on unceded Arrernte lands.

For some, climate change is out there, hovering just beyond today’s bad weather. For others it is already unfolding, with catastrophic consequences for the people and places they love.

The disconnection between people and land is not only a driver of climate change, it informs how we experience, understand and respond to it. This disconnection is underpinned and sustained by colonialism and capitalism, ideologies of domination, separation and control.

As key beneficiaries of these systems, settler descended people have a responsibility to trouble the privileges of colonialism, and develop ways of being with and in place that promote ecological and social justice towards the past and the future.

Tender Places is a creative research project undertaken as Doctoral Research at Victoria University. It is auto-ethnographic research undertaken by Kelly Lee Hickey a fifth generation Northern Territory settler, and takes place in and around Mparntwe/Alice Springs, which is on Arrernte land. It aims to disrupt harmful settler colonial land relations through walking, reading, and creative making practices.


Postcards are the first physical research arteacts for the Tender Places project. Created from photographs and field notes, they are mailed to a network of creative peers in Australia and beyond.

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Shadow Work

Shadow Work is an autoethnographic* cyanotype map of settler impacts and interactions with the ‘Ilparpa Claypans’ – a series of 12 interconnected claypans located on Arrernte land, 13km from the township of Alice Springs.

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Testing Ground: A Ritual of Recovery

Testing Ground was a ritual of recovery, that made visible the damage to the ‘Ilparpa Claypans’, caused by dumping and invasive weeds.

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Summer School: Love, Resistance and Other Survival Strategies

It’s getting hotter and harder. Last Summer felt like fire and death. Some talking about leaving. Some can’t imagine ever going away.

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