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Queensland artists to be parachuted into environmental science labs

January 30, 2018

Queensland artists will get the chance to collaborate with some of the state’s leading environmental scientists as part of the Department of Environment and Science’s 2018 Artist in Residence Science (AIRS) Program.

Science and Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said the AIRS Program is a six-month voluntary residency where artists get to spend time with department scientists and create artistic works that explore and interpret the important research being done.

“The residency culminates with an Art Meets Science Exhibition to be held at the Ecosciences Precinct at Boggo Road in Brisbane during August and September as part of National Science Week (external site),” Ms Enoch said.

“Our scientists are dedicated to solving some of Queensland’s biggest environmental challenges, including how we keep our ancient soils productive, how we best use our natural resources, and how we continue to preserve our unique natural heritage.

“This is the third time we’ve run the program, and this year we have artists who will use animation, dance, poetry, digital art, sculpture, sound, installation and photography to illustrate the work of our coastal monitoring, landscape and soil sciences, analytical chemistry, and social science units.

“There is a misconception that the worlds of science and the arts are mutually exclusive, and this is simply not the case. Both are driven by curiosity, creative thinking, and a desire to understand our world,” she said.

Ms Enoch said four artists and an arts collective had been selected out of a pool of 15 applicants.

West End environmental artist and educator Nadine Schmoll will work with the department’s Chemistry Centre, which provides chemical and physical analyses of water, soil, sediment and plant samples to support research that helps inform decisions for agricultural, environmental and resource management in Queensland.

The centre plays a crucial role in the analysis of samples collected through the water quality monitoring of catchments draining into the Great Barrier Reef.

Ms Schmoll said she planned to set up collaborations with local schools and Brisbane-based social enterprise Reverse Garbage Queensland, which collects industrial discards from more than 300 businesses, diverting them away from landfill and making them available to the community at a low cost.

“I’m interested in exploring ideas such as the degradation of land and water resources, as well as waste disposal. My intention is to create an immersive work that spans sculpture, installation, sound and projection mapping,” Ms Schmoll said.

“I have a few aims. One is to find out more about the work our scientists do, in particular how the knowledge they produce feeds important decision-making on protecting our natural environment.

“Second is education. I plan to set up workshops involving scientists and local school children. I think it’s important to open children’s minds to how science contributes to our understanding and care of our natural world. And also how art can create a deeper understanding of that contribution.”

Ms Schmoll will work together with fellow environmental artist Karen Benjamin. She said she planned to use industrial discards from Reverse Garbage Queensland in the creation of her artworks, as well as materials gathered by the school children.

Other artists include:

  • Animation artist Tessie Liddell
  • Digital interactive artist Dr Jen Seevinck
  • Digital installation artist Ms Alinta Krauth
  • The Bloom Collective, led by photo-media artist Dr Renata Buziak and involving experimental art-music duo Vanessa Tomlinson and Erik Griswold, dance-artist Jan Baker-Finch, and poet and writer Vicki Kelleher

Learn more about the Artist in Residence Science (AIRS) Program.