Science of art and the art of science

AS Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and astronaut Rick Hieb open Science Week (August 16-24) amidst fire and ice, Canberra’s premiere chamber music group The Griffyn Ensemble is asking the question, “Science – Do You Believe?”

The ensemble of Kiri Sollis on piccolo, Chris Stone on violin, Meriel Owen on harp, Holly Downes on double bass, Susan Ellis, soprano and Michael Sollis, composer and director, will join with choreographer Liz Lea and five dancers to take a journey going through mechanical evolution and ancient prophecy, exploring the essence of faith, science, and human understanding.

The Griffyn Ensemble… asking the question, “Science – Do You Believe?” Photo by Rod Taylor

The Griffyn Ensemble… asking the question, “Science – Do You Believe?” Photo by Rod Taylor

They’ll play music by George Antheil, JacobTV, and John Cage, ancient Greek poets, Radiohead, Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein and Sollis, with recorded voices from unscientific sources such as 20th century French surrealists, American fundamentalist preachers and former US president George W. Bush.

Further afield at Strathnairn Homestead, artist Michael Winters takes on the world of astrophysics, astronomy and cosmology.

An old hand at the intersection art and science, he is sceptical about using art to make the world better, but suspects science might provide a much-needed new source of inspiration.

For Winters, disillusionment set in when the Turner Prize was won for a installation of six bricks and later a room with a light on – “as if we’ve stopped imagining,” he says.

But some scientific images never left him. While a young artist in London, he was spellbound by the Apollo lunar missions, envisaging the astronaut as man reborn as a baby with the life-support mechanism its umbilical cord.

Then there was another baby, the “star child” in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: a Space Odyssey”, and the ape-man picking up a bone and finding in it as a weapon.

“It came to me science was giving us a whole new language,” Winters says. Finally, there was the mysterious, dark stranger reputed to have visited Mozart that, he says, “gave me a sense of the dark matter in the universe, and how Mozart was driven to create.”

Seized by scientific inspiration, the artist has now turned to the space-time continuum in his new show, with each work conceived in three dimensions and installed inside boxes.

“I call them sculptural landscapes that refer both to this world and a more cosmic one,” Winters says.

“Science – Do You Believe? The Three Futurists”, at Belconnen Arts Centre, 7pm, August 23 and 2pm, August 24, bookings to

Michael Winters’ “Dissected By Time and Space”, Strathnairn Arts, 90 Stockdill Drive, Holt, until September 7.  


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