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Work by Gamilaraay artist Arkeria Rose Armstrong
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Stories and Structures: Aboriginal art meets the microscopic world

13 June 2018
Indigenous art collaboration presented by Microscopy Australia
Twenty-one Indigenous artists have teamed up with some of Australia's leading microscopy scientists to explore the interplay between Country, its stories and its structures at the microscopic scale.
Microscopy image of moth sperm (left) by Greg Rouse and Witchetty Grub Dreaming by Yuendumu artist Jennifer Napaljarri Lewis.

Microscopy image of moth sperm (left) by Greg Rouse and Witchetty Grub Dreaming by Yuendumu artist Jennifer Napaljarri Lewis.

 

Microscopy Australia has launched an exhibition that explores the interplay between new Indigenous artwork and stunning images from the cutting-edge of microscopy.

Opened at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney by the Co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, Professor Tom Calma AO, Stories and Structures – New Connections brings together microscopic images and artworks to explore how images from different traditions pass on knowledge and shape our understanding of the world. Rich visual parallels between the representations seen in many Indigenous artworks and the microscopic structures hidden in nature reveal unexpected and intriguing similarities. 

“This exhibition delivers a new vision of our country and its stories. We hope that these images will open new conversations and provide opportunities to make new and lasting connections. We also hope that it will bring more Indigenous students to study and pursue careers in science,” said exhibition curator, Dr Jenny Whiting

Dr Whiting is based at the University of Sydney working for Microscopy Australia (formerly AMMRF), the national network for microscopy infrastructure, involving eight universities through the Federal Government’s NCRIS program.

The launch took place after the connected Vivid Ideas event as part of Vivid Sydney, 60,000 Years of Tradition meet the Microscopic World - Making Connections for STEM Education. In this event three highly respected Aboriginal speakers, immunologist Dr Misty Jenkins, art curator, Djon Mundine AO and author Bruce Pascoe delivered a series of thought-provoking talks on the exhibition themes and aims, inspiring the large audience with their insights.

Tom Calma AO at the exhibition launch during a Vivid Sydney event at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

Tom Calma AO at the exhibition launch during a Vivid Sydney event at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

 

After its current run in Sydney, the exhibition will tour regional Australia with the aim of helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth engage with science and higher education, and to encourage a more connected approach to modern scientific practice and a greater understanding of Indigenous perspectives. 

Twenty-one talented artists from around Australia participated in the exhibition through the creation new works that demonstrate a connection between their stories and microscopic images of related parts of Country. They include artists from the Warmun Art Centre, such as emerging young talent, April Nulgit; several Warlukurangu Artists of Yuendumu, including Jennifer Napaljarri Lewis; youngest-ever NATSIAA finalist, Joshua Bonson; Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker; exciting young Gamilaraay artist, Arkeria Rose Armstrong; and high-profile Cairns-based artists Brian Robinson and Arone Meeks.

All the microscopic images were captured on sophisticated electron microscopes in Microscopy Australia's labs around the country. The highly magnified images reveal some of the tiny structures that make up our world, from the cellular, right down to the atomic scale. 

See more at the exhibition website.

Exhibition runs:

·         9–25 June: 107, 107 Redfern Street, Redfern

·         July and August: Powerhouse Cafe, Harris Street, Ultimo

 

Top image credit:
Baayami and Gurriya by Gamilaraay artist Akeria Rose Armstrong.