UOW Gallery presents Towards Deep Time – CABAH Art Series
New works inspired by field research join gallery collection
University of Wollongong (UOW) Art Collection and Gallery, in partnership with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH), has launched a new exhibition featuring work by artists who accompanied scientists on expeditions to remote locations in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley.
The artworks – Where Lakes Once Had Water by Sonia Leber and David Chesworth and Unseeded by UK Frederick – represent the artists’ responses to their experience accompanying CABAH researchers who investigate Australia’s cultural and natural history over the past 130,000 years.
UOW Art Collection Manager Karen Cass said the artworks represent an important addition to the University’s collection.
“The two works are exceptional in how the artist’s practice has merged the worlds of art and science,” Ms Cass said.
“Creating this exhibition with CABAH demonstrates the way in which the University art gallery really acts as an interface, not only between disciplines but also between people inside and outside the university setting”.
Where Lakes Once Had Water, commissioned in association with Bundanon, is an immersive long-form video that emerges from fieldwork conducted alongside Traditional Owners and communities in spectacular settings at Lake Woods, Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) and Girraween Lagoon in the Northern Territory.
“Where Lakes Once Had Water contemplates how the Earth is experienced and understood through different ontologies – ways of being, seeing, sensing, listening and thinking – that reverberate across art, Indigenous thought, science, ancient and modern cultures, the non-human, and in between,” Leber and Chesworth said.
CABAH researcher Associate Professor Tim Cohen from UOW led the Northern Territory excursion and said the art-science collaboration represents a novel joining of different perspectives and ways of seeing landscapes.
“Where Lakes Once Had Water presents a unique appraisal of how scientists work and is presented alongside the deep cultural connection held by the Traditional Owners of the land in which the scientists and artists worked in remote Northern Australia,” Cohen said.
Unseeded is a collection of 35 hand-blown glass boab nut forms developed in collaboration with CABAH’s Distinguished Professor Sue O’Connor from The Australian National University. The artwork reflects upon the archaeological survey process, which Frederick observed during a fieldwork trip to Ningbing Range in the Kimberley region in Western Australia with Miriuwung Gajerrong Traditional Owners and rangers.
“Each of the glass forms emulates the physical shape of a boab nut, but they are also intended to act as a kind of lens. This is an important connection for me, as an artist who works with photography, and as a reminder of the conceptual qualities of a lens in shaping how the world is seen. A lens can reveal, but it can also magnify and distort; different lenses create different visions.”
The works will be on display in UOW Gallery until 13 July 2022.