We help an artist use our mineral collection in new and exciting ways.

D.41068 Gypsum crystals attached to vegetation May 2017 BT010
Gypsum crystals attached to vegetation. Image: vanessa pitt
© Australian Museum

Can Science and Art mix? The 2014 NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellowship awarded to Sydney based Wiradjuri artist Nicole Foreshew proves that they can, and I am delighted I could help Nicole prepare for a project on my favourite subject - minerals.

Nicole has been awarded the prestigious 2014 NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellowship to produce a new art work “Grounded: Earth’s materials, processes and structures”, in collaboration with myself and the mineral collection. I have been helping Nicole to research essential background information for the artwork by exploring with her the physical and optical properties of minerals and artists’ pigments.

I guided Nicole through the mineral collection and highlighted specimens which would be of most relevance to her work, while explaining their various physical, chemical and cultural aspects. When we were looking through the specimen drawers we found mineral treasures to admire in every cabinet – such incredible variations in colour, shape and texture certainly appeal to an artist.

Nicole works with a range of mediums from photography to sculpture, textiles, film and video. A variety of innovative techniques will be explored with several institutions, including those developed at the Holography Laboratory of the College of Fine Arts, Sydney. The new work will be put on public display at the Albury Regional Gallery in 2015.

Nicole’s textile works show interesting patterns, colours, and textures. In 2013, larger-than-life images of Aboriginal women draped in cloth imbued with traces of mineral and plant specimens, were projected onto the façade of the Australian Museum to celebrate the importance of Sydney's Indigenous history and culture.

Because of its incredible diversity, the Australian Museum mineral collection is a unique resource for scientific and other pursuits, and my expertise helps me match specimens to any projects our collection users have.

Ross Pogson
Collection Manager, Geosciences

More Information:
Nicole Foreshew wins Aboriginal Art Prize and NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellowship. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 October 2014. Article by Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore.