For the purposes of the Storylines survey, we have followed accepted ABS practice and based generalisations about what state an artist is associated with on where they were residing at the time the research was conducted.
143 artists out of 587, i.e. 24%, currently reside in Victoria, an even greater over-representation than for the places of birth data (Figure 4.1) and between 3 and 4 times the percentage of the overall Indigenous population residing in that state. By contrast, 23% of the artists in the sample currently reside in NSW, only slightly less than the percentage of Indigenous people who live in that state. SA had 16% (91) of the sample resident south of the Rowley Line, more than double the number (45) who had reported being born in that state. Similarly Tasmania, with 22 artist birthplaces in the state had 36 currently living there. It would appear that some artists are moving interstate in search of better opportunities, with Victoria their destination of choice. High profile examples like Brook Andrew and Ellen Jose who were born in NSW and Queensland respectively and now live in Melbourne come to mind.
One thing that emerged with clarity from the residence data was the high mobility of Storylines artists. Of the 467 artists for whom we had comprehensive residence data, just 284 had had only one place of residence. 92 had two, 38 had 3, 21 had 4, 13 reported having lived in at least 5 different places and 20 artists cited more than five residences. High profile artists like Fiona Foley, Danie Mellor and Judy Watson moved between many different parts of Australia in order to pursue educational, research and professional development opportunities related to their artistic careers. The movements of other artists, such as Nikki Carabetta and Richard Bell, were related more to the need to find employment or the search for family. There were also lots of artists – for example Peter Farmer and Bella Kelly – who travelled in childhood and adulthood within a particular region or state.
When we took every place an artist reported having lived and classified them into the same ABS statistical divisions that we had used to analyse places of birth, some interesting patterns emerged. In NSW, Sydney scored highest with 79 Storylines artists having lived there at one time or another, followed by Richmond-Tweed (Northern Rivers) (27), Illawarra (23), Northern NSW (21), and mid North-Coast (18). In other areas of the state, few artists were or had been living. Similar results were found in Victoria and WA but not in other states. In Tasmania, Greater Hobart with 20 artists in residence at various times, had less than Northern Tasmania, with 29. In Queensland, Brisbane also was not obviously preferred to regional sites of residence and in SA, Adelaide was even less favoured by Storylines artists over life in the regions.