24 September 2015

Science meets art at Westside Acton Park

| Heather Lansdowne
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Science is often seen as a mystifying and complex subject. But one ANU science communications student is changing all that with a new event: Co-Lab: Science Meets Street Art.


Small’s electrifying piece exploring Jason Whitfield’s research on chemical signals in the brain.

By pairing five PHD science students with five local street artists, Lee Constable took over Westside Acton Park on Saturday (19 September 2015) to create a feast for the eyes – not to mention the brain.

The students were asked to explain their research to the artists, and collaborate on an art piece that could communicate the material in a creative and visually appealing way. The end result is a spectacular mural, which can now been seen at the entrance to Westside Park.

With subject matter as diverse as native animals, lasers, space debris, crystals and the human brain, any science enthusiast is sure to find something to his or her taste.

“Canberra’s emerging youth culture have really responded to street art in a positive way, so it’s a really good way of communicating and connected with the local people,” Lee says.


Houl’s interpretation of Catherine Ross’ research on the function of native bettongs in the Mulligan’s Flat Wildlife Sanctuary.

“Members of the public have come through and watched as these pieces evolve and take shape over the day. It’s been great for both the artists and the scientists involved. The artists really enjoyed collaborating with the scientists and feel that it’s brought extra meaning to their work.

“On the other hand, the scientists have talked about how it was a great experience to communicate their research in a simple, relatable way to an artist and to see the public engage with their work through a different medium.”


Artist Beast working on his piece inspired by Lyle Roberts’ research.

In order to make the project happen, Constable organised for Westside to donate the space for the mural and secured a discount on paint from Sancho’s Dirty Laundry.

She was then able cover the remaining costs with a grant from PARSA (Post Graduate and Research Student Association) under its extra-curricular funding scheme for students.

Lee says she is keen to run similar science-meets-art events in the future, and is looking at ways to raise funds to create a bigger, better experience for the community.

“I’d like to secure a grant so I can pay artists for their time and make it something that Canberrans feel they are a part of. The local PHD students normally work in a lab, so this is a good opportunity to celebrate that work and talk about it in a public space.”

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Dame Canberra10:46 am 22 Sep 15

Great idea, and so pleased to see more stuff like this popping up in Canberra over recent months.

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