Name of Scientist / Researcher: Prof. William Gladstone
Name of Artist: Dr Lisa Roberts
Art and science both need a creative process to generate their description of the world, even though the outcomes of both endeavours might appear very different. I am interested in experiencing the different and similar ways in which an individual trained as an artist and an individual trained as a scientist respond to the same environment and the ways we depict and describe it. I am interested in collaborating to produce an artwork and in the process of deciding what that will be and how it will be displayed, given we are accustomed to producing very different works.
There's a lot of talk within the academic sphere about the need to reconcile intuitive responses with logical analysis, however few opportunities exist for interactions between these vital aspects of our natures. My interest in this project is the opportunity it offers to interact with a scientist in the field. It is rare to find the space and time that is necessary for new forms of expression and understanding to naturally evolve. I want to know from experience how our interactions change the ways we each respond to, and understand nature. I hope that insights from this experience, and from insights shared between project participants, can shift our own and public perceptions and behaviours to better conserve nature.
Field of research / interest
I undertake research in the fields of marine conservation biology and the behavioural ecology of marine fishes. Within these fields I research the biology of marine organisms that is needed to make conservation decisions (such as the location of marine reserves), the process of selecting sites for marine reserves, effectiveness of marine conservation programs, the reproductive and social behaviours of fishes, and the attributes of the sites used by fishes for reproduction. I also collaborate with social scientists to understand the importance of the marine environment to people and to integrate this with the biological knowledge in conservation decision-making.
About your art practice
I draw, paint and animate, inspired by the primal forms of nature and by dancing these same forms. Circling, spiralling and crossing forms work to combine scientific data and expressions of connection. I conduct experiments with scientists and other artists to find out if the gestures we use to convey our understandings change over time as we interact.
I trained to be a scientist by completing a BSc(Hons) and then a PhD. I worked in marine environmental management at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and then in the Red Sea (Saudi Arabia) at the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development and the Regional Organisation for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. In those organisations I was responsible for planning a marine national park at the Farasan Islands and for running international donor-funded projects to build the capacity of countries around the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden for marine conservation. I was inspired by these experiences to teach and research in marine conservation and my first academic job was at the University of Newcastle where I led the marine biology and sustainable resource management programs. I moved to UTS in 2010 and have been Head of the School of the Environment and more recently Head of the School of Life Sciences. Throughout my professional career I have been passionate about photography and using it as a medium to explain what I do and express my wonder at the beauty of the natural world.
Current positions are Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Visiting Scientist (aka Artist) at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Tasmania. Formal studies include dance, visual arts, animation, Indigenous perspectives and Antarctic perceptions. My PhD was practice-based and led to the development of a lexicon of primal gestural forms. The forms are circling, spiralling and crossing and are used in animation and other media to combine scientific and sensory understandings. Presentations are made online, in public spaces and at conferences and exhibitions.