Art and science combine in unique island project

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Art and science combine in unique island project

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Maryborough artists Kelli MacGregor and Gina Davey (standing) finding inspiration on the beach at the front of USC’s Research and Learning Centre at Dilli Village, Fraser Island.

11 January 2017

Science is fusing with art in a collaboration between USC and regional artists to display the outstanding beauty and ecology of World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.

In the first stage of the project, members of Fraser Coast RATS (Regional Artists and Tutors) recently teamed up with visiting scientists based at USC’s Fraser Island Research and Learning Centre to join in field studies of the island’s dune systems and lakes.

Visual artist Kelli McGregor said RATS members documented the experience in a series of drawings, sketches, open air paintings and collage collections that would form the inspiration for a curated body of original, site-specific artworks for exhibition.

“At the heart of the project lies a common desire to showcase the diversity of Fraser Island’s natural environment and to enhance understanding of its unique World Heritage values,” Ms McGregor said.

“There is a historical connection between scientific research and art that we wish to explore, and we want to show researchers how we respond to this incredible landscape in an artistic way.”

She said the final body of work would range from traditional landscape painting to mixed media works prints, pressings, collage, sculpture and installations.

USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the curated exhibition would go on display at USC’s Art Gallery as part of the biennial Fraser Island Conference, hosted by the University.

The conference, on 17-18 August, will mark 25 years since Fraser Island’s listing by UNESCO on the World Heritage Register.

“USC is pleased to support this innovative art project that captures what scientist do and see as part of their field studies and translates these qualities into creative works,” Professor Hill said.

“It offers a new, inspired perspective to scientific research and will help to promote the significant cultural and ecological values of the whole Fraser Coast region.”

The exhibition will tour next year to the Aspire Art gallery in Paddington, Brisbane and USC campuses at South Bank and the Fraser Coast.

RATS members are producing a documentary on the project, which is funded by the Fraser Coast Regional Arts Development Fund and Arts Queensland. Video footage and photographs will document the project’s various stages from concept design to exhibition.

— Clare McKay 

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