A stunning new Antarctic exhibit focuses on the future of the White Continent

The collaborative project examines conversations between artists, scientists and the public about how to protect Antarctica

The symbiosis between art and science comes to life with a new exhibition at the University of Wollongong (UOW) that explores the beauty, creativity and power of Antarctica’s landscapes.

Produced in collaboration with the UOW Art Collection, the exhibition, titled Antarctic Futures, opened yesterday (Wednesday, August 17) at the UOW Art Gallery, located in the Jillian Broadbent Building on the Wollongong campus.

Featuring works by artists such as Janet Laurence, Ashley Frost and Mary Rosengren, as well as contributions from scientists from UOW’s Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future program, Antarctic Futures is inspired by the first-hand experiences of those who have traveled to the continent to do something research or as part of artist residency programs.

Antarctic Futures, which launches during National Science Week (August 13-21), also includes a series of seminars and workshops exploring the research and experiences of UOW academics who have visited Antarctica.

The team behind Antarctic Futures has also worked with the Early Start Discovery Space at UOW to develop hands-on workshops to engage children with knowledge about Antarctic ecosystems, Antarctica’s impact on global climate, and the impact of climate change on Antarctica and equip.

UOW Vice Chancellor Professor Patricia Davidson speaks at the Antarctic Futures Exhibition.  Photo: Paul Jones

UOW Vice Chancellor Professor Patricia M Davidson opens the Antarctic Futures Exhibition.

The project will unfold over the next three months, with the exhibition running until October 19th.

Antarctic Futures was inspired and informed by the ECO-Antarctica project, a research initiative led by a multidisciplinary group of academics at UOW. Supported by the Global Challenges Program, this group consisted of marine and terrestrial ecologists, data scientists, environmental toxicologists, climate scientists, a historian, an artist, and experts in environmental law and policy.

dr Melinda Waterman, a postdoctoral fellow at UOW working on mosses in Antarctica, said the project aims to raise public awareness of ecological and political issues facing Antarctica.

“Climate change is affecting Antarctica in a variety of ways,” said Dr. Waterman. “We have seen changes in its landscape and life, both on land and in the water. Through Antarctic Futures, the exhibition, public seminars and children’s workshops, we hope to inspire the next generation to understand Antarctica and think about its possible future.

“Children have unique insights into the importance of Antarctic ecosystems and climate, and have their own political opinions. They are the next generation that will eventually inherit Antarctica. We’d really like to see what these young Citizen Science artists envision for the future of Antarctica.”

Associate Professor Brogan Bunt, who contributed artworks to the Antarctic Futures exhibition, said art is a great way to spark community conversations about the importance of Antarctica to the future health of the planet.

“Raising awareness of such a remote place – one that very few of us will ever visit – can be challenging. Art can help make Antarctica and the environmental issues around it more accessible,” said Associate Professor Bunt.

A crowd is pictured at the launch of the Antarctic Futures Exhibition at UOW.  Photo: Paul Jones

Twelve artists and scientists have contributed to the exhibition and have been inspired by their experiences on the ground in Antarctica. You have visited Antarctica either as a researcher or as an artist in residence.

The exhibit also includes artwork by Illawarra children who participated in the Early Start Antarctic Early Learning Workshops.

The Antarctic Futures seminar series will feature speakers from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, including Distinguished Professor Sharon Robinson, Dr. Lucas Ihlein and Rachelle Balez from UOW.

The Antarctic Futures art exhibition will be on view at the UOW Gallery in the Jillian Broadbent Building (Building 29) Monday through Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It runs from August 15 to October 19, 2022.

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