Phantom Dwellings: Five Geographies from the Lives of Judith Wright and Nugget Coombs

Artist Anthony Coxeter and Architect Sebastian Silva are back to explore the next stage of their research work.  Phantom Dwellings is a series of five choreographic/ architectural installations wherein five episodes in the late-life relationship between the poet Judith Wright and the great public servant Nugget Coombs are transposed into navigable geographies, exploring how the imaginary of their private relationship intersected recognizable Australian political geographies from the mid-1960s til the mid-1990s.

Anthony and Sebastian will host 2 of the 5 Geographies working with an interdisciplinary creative team comprised of Cazú Zegers, Josep Ferrando, Lauren Booker, Lawrence English and Adelina Larsson.

Their idea is to design five distinct installations inspired by the psycho-physical obstacles Wright and Coombs faced throughout their late-life clandestine relationship. The architects will respond to specific historical moments taken from the prior research, working within an approach of ‘implied choreography’.

The work aims to deepen current research by providing an interdisciplinary understanding of Nugget’s and Judith’s attempts to grapple with the interlocking narratives of the disenchantment of homo-economicus in its approach to nature, the deformations of autonomy for indigenous people, the capacity for liberal institutions to reflect social complexity, and the challenges of their personal intercultural experiences during a period of intense transformation in Australia.

Phantom Dwellings distills their relationship’s elisions, intellectual fire, yearning, committee meetings, separation and sojourns through five discrete episodes that stage these historical psycho-geographies – starting in the physicality of body and landscape – in ways that yield traversable imaginaries that are personal and political.

Anthony Coxeter is a playwright and Creative Director of Elective Affinities, a production house at the intersection of arts and interests. Since being a founding member of the literary journal The Lifted Brow, he has lectured in politics, history and literature at the University of Sydney, served as a dramaturge for choreographic works across Australia, including as a consultant for the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and is the current project leader for the Greater Coombs Legacy Project, a cross-sector initiative that engages critically with the diverse legacies of H.C. ‘Nugget’ Coombs.


Sebastián Silva is a Chilean-born architect. Having previously completed his Masters in Architectural Restoration at the Universidad Politecnica de Cataluña in Barcelona, he has an international portfolio of built work, beginning with innovative social housing projections in Santiago, the collaborative public installation ‘Pavilion 8 Quebradas’, the Observatorio Acustica in Patagonia (an architectural intervention at the convergence of two rivers), and most recently, a German-funded architectural film project in collaboration with the director Ernesto Bauer.

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