‘Alchemical Worlds’ exhibition interweaves art and science

Artists brings together art, science, climatology and filmmaking to explore the interconnectedness of Earth’s ecosystems

‘Alchemical Worlds’ exhibition interweaves art and science

An exhibition by University of Wollongong artist-researchers Dr Agnieszka Golda and Dr Jo Law in collaboration with artist Martin Johnson interweaves contemporary art, climate science and new generation materials science.

Alchemical Worlds is on exhibition at Wollongong Art Gallery from 22 May to 15 August, and will be officially launched on Saturday 29 May, 6:30pm-8:30pm by Robyn Williams, presenter of The Science Show on ABC Radio National.

The exhibition brings together art, design, materials science, paleoclimatology and filmmaking with philosophies of alchemy and materials transformation to explore the interconnectedness of Earth’s ecosystems.

Led by Dr Golda and Dr Law, and supported by UOW’s Global Challenges Program, Alchemical Worlds has emerged from the intersections of art and science.

Central figures in this ongoing collaboration are materials scientist Dr Sepidar Sayyar (Australian National Fabrication Facilities and Intelligent Polymer Research Institute), climate scientist Associate Professor Helen McGregor (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences), and filmmaker Dr Aaron Burton (School of the Arts, English and Media).

Using environmentally sensitive responses and ecologically sustainable processes, materials and technologies, Alchemical Worlds highlights some of the many stories of our changing climate, our material ecologies and invites us to consider the dynamic and animate worlds around us.

“We wanted this exhibition to highlight the diversity of research outputs and other ways to engage the broader community with new research, and how dialogues between art and science can inform new approaches to thinking and making,” Dr Golda said.

“Underlying this is a desire to promote ecological awareness and understandings through contemporary art making,” Dr Law added.

With more than 30 years’ experience working together, Dr Golda, Dr Law and Mr Johnson have developed an understanding of each other’s strengths and boundaries.

A key theme expressed in this exhibition is allowing the new generation materials used in the pieces to create the form of the artwork, as opposed to the artists themselves.

Alchemical Worlds features wall hangings, paintings, sculptures, animations, textile designs and films. The protagonists of the exhibition are those non-human things that can often be overlooked: corals, trees and fungi. Here, corals and trees are celebrated as ancient record keepers, or bioarchivists, as together they can hold climate records for millions of years.

Dr Golda, Dr Law and Mr Johnson give life to these ecological narratives through an experimental and advanced use of eclectic materials: pure silk, Belgian linen, locally sourced wood, graphene, electronic circuits, silver wire, digital screens, and climate data, all of which are instrumental in shaping the overall form of the artwork.

Dr Golda is a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Arts at the School of the Arts, English and Media. She teaches in the visual arts and heads a unique practice-based studio program committed to redefining the field of contemporary textiles, painting and installation art.

Dr Law is a Senior Lecturer in New Media at the School of the Arts, English and Media. She is interested in creative practice’s relationship with changing sociocultural and political environments and teaches a range of media that include experimental film and video, creative coding, interactive electronic arts and fine arts animation.

The artists will give a talk about the exhibition on Wednesday 2 June from 11am to noon at Wollongong Art Gallery; there will be a workshop on Saturday 5 June from noon to 2pm; and a symposium on Saturday 14 August from noon to 3pm.

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