UOW opens Penny Williamson Gallery

UOW opens Penny Williamson Gallery

Gallery features Illawarra’s geology, fauna and flora, and a painting by an Indigenous artist

The School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences (SEALS) at the University of Wollongong (UOW) opened the Penny Williamson Gallery on Friday, 10 December 2021 to recognise the outstanding contributions of Ms Williamson to the University.

Ms Williamson is a geologist and the curator at SEALS in the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health. She is the recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Outstanding Award with Associate Professor Brian Jones. The Award was bestowed to them under Rosemary Cooper Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award category.

The newly opened gallery in Building 43 features Illawarra’s geology, fauna and flora and a notable painting by an Indigenous artist Sammy Hill; the newly installed artwork aims to become a learning display for both Science and Engineering students and a beautiful start to transforming the Building 43 foyer into an inspiring space.

SEALS Professor Anthony Dosseto and Founder of the Wollongong Isotope Geochronology Laboratory, congratulated Ms Williamson on her outstanding contribution to the University and bringing the art to life.

“I am delighted to see that Penny’s work and her contributions to the University are being recognised,” Professor Dosseto said.

“Naming the Gallery after her is a (small) step towards providing role models for young women interested in a career in Geology and Science in general.”

The display also includes two donated, very large and heavy, fantastic polished slabs of rock from Western Australia, which represent the start of life on earth; the Bum Tree, a donated Tree ring from a Gerroa Blackbutt, supplemented with local petrified wood; stunning minerals and fossils; and a poster series on the archaeological discovery of Homo floresiensis in Indonesia.

At the event, Ms Williamson thanked Professor Brian Jones, Professor Anthony Dosseto, Geoff Hurt and SEALS Head of School Professor Guang Shi and donors for their constant support in making this gallery a reality.

“It is a great honour to have this work recognised,” Ms Williamson said.

“These displays have a value of about half a million dollars. None of this would have been possible without the incredibly generous donors.

“I would like to thank Guang, who has supported the concept of displays since his first day here and had the confidence and belief in me that the displays would be completed to a high standard.

“I started the process of organising the donation of the Tiger Iron and Tiger Eye displays about nine years ago, so it has taken some time for the displays to come to fruition.

“The Indigenous artwork is Sammy Hill’s inspiration for this piece, and is drawn from country, for country here in the Illawarra and includes local flora and fauna as well as key words drawn from the Acknowledgment of Country developed by the Aboriginal staff and community of UOW.

“It also fits perfectly with SEALS while representing a perfect example in which collaborative partnerships can work effectively and efficiently through prioritising Reconciliation and ensuring Aboriginal protocols are maintained.

“To each and every one of you who had a kind word or a positive comment, thank you. It is not about ego; it is about knowing that you are doing something that matters to other people. You have no idea how sometimes that kind remark re-ignites the fire that keeps you going.”

The displays provide the incentive for broadening visitors’ concepts of the diverse fields of natural sciences and provides visual stimulation, especially to undergraduate students. It provides visitors with the freedom to explore different aspects of their environment that they may not have previously considered.