Great Australian Science Show :: Artists Thinking About Science

The Visual Art component of the 1993 Great Australian Science Show was curated by ANAT.

Typhoid Mary by Linda Dement_1994

Typhoid Mary by Linda Dement_199

Held at the World Trade Centre in Melbourne in July of 1993 and later toured to other states, the exhibition included works by Deborah Kelly, Dale Nason, Troy Innocent, Moira Corby, Faye Maxwell, Brad Miller and Jason Gee. The exhibition was funded by Vic Health and facilitated by Virginia Barratt.

In 1994 ANAT received a $25,000 grant from the Visions of Australia program to enable the touring of an exhibition Artists thinking about Science to the Great Australian Science Shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. An audience of 60,000 people saw the exhibition, which featured the work of Linda Dement, Richard Stanford, Kevin Todd, Jan Nelson and John Tonkin.

The work Typhoid Mary, by Linda Dement, caused questions to be asked in the Senate after one Queensland person complained about the sexual content of the work. The media, print, radio and television were all interested in covering the issue but not only had the exhibition finished by the time, which therefore offered little publicity value, but such interest distorted the serious issues being addressed by the artist. The work was labelled as being unsuitable for children, and the organisers of the Great Australian Science Show were aware of the content of Linda Dement’s work before it was exhibited in the three showings of the exhibition.

The exhibition was very much a success. It was seen by a large number of people, it enabled Richard Stanford to gain more commissions and it gave ANAT a good profile event in three Australian states. The publishing of a quality catalogue enabled by the Visions of Australia money gave ANAT a quality vehicle to distribute both Australia-wide and internationally.

Artists Thinking About Science

Artists Thinking About Science was an exhibition that toured Australia as part of the Great Australian Science Show in 1994, curated by David O’Halloran. The exhibition was shown at the Royal Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne, The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, and The Exhibition Building Showgrounds, Brisbane. It was supported through Visions of Australia, the Commonwealth’s national touring exhibitions grant program.

  • Linda DEMENT
  • Jan NELSON
  • Richard STANFORD
  • Kevin TODD
  • John TONKIN

The artists in this exhibition do not simply illustrate scientific principles with their work; they are dealing with attitudes and ideas about science, and not necessarily producing images that science may regard as correct or factual. As another curator of a science/art exhibition project noted, “it is not important whether these presentations of the subject are real, true or accurate. It is the reading of artworks as receptors of assumptions, even prejudices concerning science that is of interest.” (Naomi Cass, What is this thing called science , University of Melbourne Gallery, 1987).

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