Nite Art-Harry Brookes Allen Museum and Life Drawing with Nina Sellars

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By Celeste Hawkins

My Nite Art adventure took me to the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology at Melbourne University. Rarely open to the public, it was much bigger than I anticipated. I certainly did not expect to see Ned Kelly’s death mask! Our guide told us that the very next day after the head was amputated, this death mask was on display in Bourke Street Melbourne! Discussion was had as to whether it was the original mask. Perhaps we will never know.

Artist and Research Fellow, Dr. Nina Sellars then gave our group of about twenty a talk to introduce our next activity, a life-drawing workshop. Her talk began by giving us an in depth background into early Renaissance drawing techniques, with a focus on perspective. She discussed some of Michelangelo’s techniques such as his marking of the bony landmarks of the body. She reinforced the three main body masses-the ribcage, head and pelvis. What I took away was that a life drawing should demonstrate sound knowledge of the masses, bony landmarks and geometric forms. We then spent time drawing a male model. Armed with this newly found knowledge, I felt even more confident in understanding the physical form of the body and other elements such as; shadows, light and angles in which the body is being thrust.

The study of anatomy relies on both anatomical knowledge and imagery. The most prominent and revolutionary anatomist and physician of his time was Vesalius (1534) who transformed the way the human body was seen, producing three dimensional drawings. Nina went on to tell us that true perspective drawings had only been invented in the 1400’s. Prior to this time, attempts were made but were technically incorrect and produced more of an illusion, or showed people or objects beside each other at different heights.

Andreas Vesalius – Anatomy

Nite Art-Wednesday

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Just a quick post to remind you all about ‘Nite Art’ – happening all around Melbourne tomorrow evening. Check here for more details!

Nite Art


On Storytelling…

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An amazing array of artists came together to deliver Elemental at the Planetarium last Thursday evening. You may have had a chance to experience it in Bendigo on Friday night if tickets are still available. Otherwise…I’m sorry folks. Alicia Sometimes, narrator and poet,was a co-writer for this production of all things Universe and Infinite. I hadn’t been to the planetarium since a child,technology sure has come a long way since then. The animations and visual effects were sensational. I lay back and the storytelling began; through voice over, live music performance and the ongoing visual animation on the domed ceiling above.


On the subject of storytelling, I just viewed episode 5 of Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery Service on ABC where she interviewed John Safran. I cannot but help warm to John. Known by many as an ‘agitator’ he is a true artist. He describes himself as taking an ‘Insider/outsider’ approach to what he does (in terms of his research practices-he certainly does this) and a storyteller. Here is a man that truly understands his own character and knows what he has to do. He has also recently written a true crime novel. Not your ordinary crime novel of course!

Experiment three-Briony Barr

Wheeler Centre- ‘Art and Us:Art and Science’

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By Celeste Hawkins


Presenters: Briony Barr, James Saunders, Leah Heiss, Alicia Sometimes.

Many intriguing questions and issues arose from last night’s discussion. Each of the three artists being interviewed by Alica Sometimes, have ‘embedded’ themselves and their practice within the scientific world.

So what are the similarities between scientists and artists in the way that they deal with their practice?

Actor James Saunders was relating to a relationship he had with a neuroscientist, discovering that they both had an interest in philosophy and art. He also commented on the research aspect in both fields, there is a sense of a continuum in each. Scientists also have a sense of wonder and creativity, as do artists. He remarked that his play ‘Fugue’ based on a controversial psychologist; Harry Harlow- emerged much richer in ideas from these interactions with his collaborators-neuroscientists from Monash and Melbourne University.

Briony Barr, regularly collaborates with an astrophysicist and microbiologist-to produce large scale drawings (using tape to build the form), that ultimately become an even larger collaborative piece involving up to 30 people. Through the building of patterns involving interactions and a set of instructions; such as ‘draw a line 10 centimeters long…’ and ‘…make the line on a 60 degree angle’, it becomes its own complex system-like an ant colony. She said that these complex systems would ultimately need a mathematician to try to make sense of it, and even then that would be a huge challenge. She said that artists could be like scientists in that they tend to ‘make’ and ‘remake’-in this way they are solving problems and can end up with varying results.

Experiment three-Briony Barr

‘Experiment three’- Briony Barr

Leah Heiss has used an amazing array of substances and technologies to create often-beautiful works that can be used in the Medical field. Nano technology, magnetic liquids and chemicals are used and manipulated in her practice. She described her field as a ‘trans disciplinary’ one-where there is a need to collaborate. When ‘fusion’ or collaboration occurs with herself and her colleagues (scientist and doctors), things of value are created. As an artist/designer, she believes these ‘things’ can create empathy between people and technology. In relation to her own practice, Leah said that the artist is often asking the difficult questions –such as the ethical questions or the possible impact of what they are creating.

The need to have an outcome in Medical Research was one that the panel agreed on and it seems that through these creative processes, artists can ask the challenging questions and encourage more trials in research. Also the language that both groups use can perhaps merge and be developed further to expand on the collaborative process. James Saunders remarked that a neurophysicist had explained something scientific to him as a metaphor in order for him to better understand. I believe it to be a very exciting prospect, that these collaborations could soon become a normal part in the area of innovation in all areas of the scientific world.

Joan visits Meeniyan

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Holidays are upon us. Well, at least for some.

I had the opportunity to see New York act ‘Joan As Police Woman’ at the Meeniyan town hall on Saturday night. You may have passed through Meeniyan on your way to Wilsons Promontory. Joan was one of the incredible acts that so often frequent this space. The acoustics in the hall are captivating, reverberating throughout to create an intimate and unforgettable experience. A major part of a good night out isn’t just the performance alone. Other sensory elements intertwine and wrap it all up in a perfect package for your memory to unpack and recollect at a later time. This has ensured that each act I have seen has been an unforgettable experience!

You can see a former line up of the bands here. And a review here.

Joan as Police Woman- Meeniyan Town Hall

Melbourne Art blog