Category Archives: Artworks

Furniture Purchase for New Work

As mentioned previously, I have an upcoming show at The Barracks in New Norfolk in June 2022. This exhibition is the follow up to Mourning Story shown in 2021 and will showcase work arising from the Synapse Residency – although at this stage, I will not be showing any live cells.

I tend to be quite emergent in my approach to practice. However, many ideas tend to build on previous actions or make reference to previous works and concepts.  I have a history of repurposing furniture items to create new narratives that link to the domestic or particular historical periods. For the show in June, I am keen to revisit the idea of the Wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities), but shift it from a sense of containment to a more open form that inspires a sense of wonder at ‘uncontainability’ of life.

One of my key strategies in finding the perfect item, is to trawl through Gumtree and second hand shops. It takes some time and diligence, but I have found the perfect piece.

CabinetTimber hall stand with mirror

Not only is a beautiful piece of furniture, it is also ideally suited to re-working as a triptych-style work as the central mirror panel can easily be removed.

At almost 2m high, I am very fortunate to have a friend and collaborator with a horse float to get it home!

Chameleon Pigment: 3D Experiments

While I have been prepping for lab work (and awaiting clearances and media), I have been using my residency to invest in studio time and test new materials and processes that (somewhat subconsciously still) align to the themes of the Synapse project.

Over the past few months, I have ordered a stack of chameleon pigments from suppliers in Australia, China, the US and UK to test quality and colour. I have compiled a series of swatches on different substrates to determine colour shifting properties and how they layer and complement each other. So far my favourite supplier is A1 Pigments. They stock a huge range of powdered pigments including chameleon and mica pigments.

I have also tested solvents including water-based varnishes, oil-based media and wood varnish. Unfortunately water-based products are not suitable for the pigment and it works best in a polyurethane/resin base. I particularly like the results from using timber varnishes such as the Bondall Monocel Timber Varnish range. They have a slight warm amber tint which  gives the application a nice depth of colour. For crystal clear application and sealing, KBS’s Diamond Finish Clear Coat is fantastic as it is non-yellowing and super clear (although a bit expensive).

As part of my testing process, I have started to develop a series of small sculptural works that consider species and matter entanglements and the wonder of the universe.

Sculpture 1

Top view of Sculpture 1 showing chameleon pigment coated rocks formations and Titanium Aura Quartz

Sculpture 1

Frontal view of Sculpture 1

Sculpture 2

Frontal view of Sculpture 2 showing a Pyrite cluster and Peacock Ore (Bornite).

These sculptures have ‘secrets of the universe’ hidden in their base. The form of the works hints at the nature of the secret, but you would have to destroy the work to reveal it.

I really wanted the base to be a dark matt black. To achieve this I tested Stuart Semple’s Black 3.0. While the initial results were good, the black marked too easily with my messy handling. As such, I opted for black flock  instead. Not only does this coating hide slight surface imperfections, it also creates a great matt black and light absorbing coating. Now that I am making some headway on ideal flocking application, I am planning to flock some of sculptural works to create a contrast between soft velvety textures and glossy surfaces.

I should mention that was first introduced to flocking by my dear friend and fellow artist Michael Riddle. Finally, I have a purpose for my own work to ‘get flocked’. So thanks Mike.


Exhibition Planned for June 2022: Preliminary Creative Work Ideas

I am excited to more formally announce that I have an exhibition scheduled for June/July 2022 at The Barracks Gallery in New Norfolk, run by Derwent Valley Arts. This is a great opportunity to show preliminary outcomes from the Synapse residency. A deadline also always gets me moving creatively. Due to the heritage location,  I am not anticipating showing living works, but rather fixed cells as part of sculptural works and other mixed media works and prototypes.

While final creative works will of course be refined in response to laboratory outcomes and collaborator input, these are some preliminary ideas:

  • Tumour Babies: A series of six media-media wall panels integrating my DNA and stained and fixed cells grown in glass vessels.
  • Revelations: A series of six mixed media dome works incorporating fixed cells seeded into 3D biofabricated scaffold structures.
  • More-than-human: A large-scale sonic and LED chandelier integrating 3D printed resin components based on cells, microorganisms, protein and DNA structures
  • Visible/Invisible: A series of three UV activated paintings and laser engraved light panels
  • Self-portrait #4: Imminent unfoldings: An outdoor sculpture designed to transform in response to the environment.
  • Becoming (M)other: Sculptural video installation integrating time-lapse light and fluorescence microscope images of cell growth and transformation.
  • Legal Mandalas: A series of laser engraved mandalas incorporating text from relevant legal and governance frameworks related to biomaterials use and patenting in Australia over the past decade.


Immortalised cells – another work

As I continue to develop the project, I am looking into other artists working with cell immortalisation protocols.

A recent project involving the immortalisation of primary cells is the work Immortality for Two which forms part of a dual body of work collectively titled I’am by Luís Graça and Marta de Menezes. In contrast to the aims of the Billy Apple® project, this work reflects on the artist de Menezes and scientist Graça’s long-term working and romantic relationship (de Menezes M & Graça 2020).

Immortality for Two

Immortality for Two, Marta de Menezes 2014 – image available via Bioart Society

For more information see: 

de Menezes M & Graça L I’am – Immortality’s Anti-Marta, in Berger, E., Mäki-Reinikka, K., O’Reilly, K. and Sederholm, H., 2020. Art as we don’t know it. Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, pp. 52 – 53