Art and science

Media releases, National Science Week

Dozens of art performances and exhibitions around Australia for National Science Week starting 11 August

  • The first robot story, staged in a working medical research lab, Melbourne
  • Meet the American ballet dancer using dance to get disadvantaged girls into science, Perth
  • You’re never alone when you’ve got a parasite, comedy in Sydney, digital art in Ballarat
  • Art explores what makes us human, now and in the future, Sydney
  • Moving climates: theatre, dance and digital art that deals with the data of disaster, Canberra


  • Dissecting the anatomy of a flower, Sydney
  • When weather broadcasts become high drama, Darwin
  • The power of music for the memories of dementia patients, Sydney
  • Australia’s lost megafauna back from the dead as shadow puppets, Darwin
  • Bringing dead scientists to life on stage—South Brisbane and Canberra
  • Comedy meets the brainstem (the ‘arse end of the brain’), Melbourne
  • Painting with light, long exposure photography and 100 volunteers, Sydney

More on these highlights below, and others at, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists, artists, performers and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

Tanya Ha: or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: or 0417 131 977

About National Science Week

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw 1.2 million people participate in more than 2,100 events and activities.

In 2018, National Science Week celebrates its 21st birthday, with events held throughout Australia—from Corals in the Outback in western Queensland to TAStroFest astronomy in the Apple Isle, and from STEM meets dance in Perth to The Innovation Games at Sydney Olympic Park —with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

National Science Week 2018 will run from 11 to 19 August. Media kit at, public event listings at

More on the highlights…

Valley of Light—Centennial Park

Film or photograph Centennial Park dotted with orbs of spinning light as master light painter Peter Solness leads 100 volunteer light spinners in this art/science event, brining public art together with long exposure photography.

Friday 10 August Event details

Media enquiries: Megan Harvey,, or 0427 288 742

RUR 2020: Robots from a classic sci-fi play in a real-life lab—St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC

The 1920s science fiction play Rossum’s Universal Robots by Karel Čapek introduced the word ‘robot’ to the English language. It was set in a factory-lab that fabricates flesh and blood artificial people from a special gel-like substance.

This ​August​, Melbourne biomedical research centre ​BioFab3D​ and immersive theatre company PlayReactive​ present a new play by local writer ​Rohan Byrne—​RUR 2020. Staged in a real laboratory​, this modern reimagining of Karel Čapek’s century-old masterpiece delves into the ethics of biofabrication—the manufacture of living tissues in the lab—and asks what price society is willing to pay in pursuit of a miracle cure. A Q&A forum will follow the performance on Thursday 16 August.

Thursday 9 to Sunday 19 August Event details

Media enquiries: Alexandre Guérin on or 0406310861.

Rohan Byrne (writer), Georgia Symons (director) and Cathal O’Connell (BioFab3D manager) are available for interviews.

Music and memory—Sydney, NSW

Can we use music to help treat dementia?

Neuroscientist Associate Professor Muireann Irish is exploring why, among the devastating memory loss of dementia, people can retain their musical abilities and memory for favourite tunes. She’s motivated by her grandmother’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease.

“For me, the power of music is most evident when we consider its potential to reach patients where many other interventions have failed,” says Muireann.

Muireann will reveal how our response to music involves a very widespread network of regions that also serve other functions such as attention, language, movement, and emotional regulation. She’s sharing her research at the City Recital Hall, live on stage with a concert violinist.

Thursday 9 August Event details

Media contact: Matt Fraser,, 02 8065 7363 or 0401 326 007

Human non Human—Powerhouse Museum, NSW

Art, science and speculation converge in Human non Human, an exhibition that asks the questions: What makes us human? How might humans adapt in the future?

Addressing four fundamental aspects of human experience: Food, Work, Sex and Belief, Human non Human responds to the impact of accelerating technology, connectivity and a rapidly changing environment.

Featuring artists Lindsay Kelley, Liam Young, Maria Fernanda Cardoso and Ken Thaiday with Jason Christopher, these works combine many perspectives, including architecture, design, biotechnology, botany, chemistry, film and performance. This series of immersive installations offer space in which to consider the past, present and possible futures of human and non-human relationships.

Image: Still from Renderlands, 2018, from video work by Liam Young

Tuesday 7 to Sunday 19 August Event details

Media enquiries: MAAS Publicist Eli Wallis, 02 9217 0564

Images for media use

Botany Undressed with Maria Fernanda Cardoso—Powerhouse Museum, NSW

Artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso explores floral anatomy, and weaves together themes of scientific method, history, and the similarities of artistic and scientific observation.

‘Botany Undressed’ participants have the opportunity to feel, smell, dissect and work with flowers using microscopes, magnifying glasses and other tools and materials to observe, explore and investigate flowers. Learn about the hidden floral structures and their underlying function and evolution.

Maria Fernanda Cardoso is featured in Human non Human, a new exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum.

Image: The Marriage of Plants, 2018, by Maria Fernanda Cardoso

Saturday 11 August Event details

Media enquiries: Matt Fraser,, 02 8065 7363 or 0401 326 007

Images for media use

Parasites Lost by Alanta Colley—Marrickville & Randwick, NSW

You’re never alone, when you’ve got a parasite. After 10 years of travelling and working in Asia and Africa, science communicator and comedian Alanta Colley has seen a few things. And eaten a few things. And yelled her lunch into not an inconsequential number of toilets.

The story of one woman, who has contained multitudes. After an entirely sold out season at Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2017 Alanta is bringing her first solo show to the Sydney Science Festival.

Thursday 9 to Sunday 12 August Event details

Event enquiries: Alanta Colley, or 0478 143 905

UK actor brings dead scientists (Einstein and Curie) to life on stage—South Brisbane, QLD and Parkes, ACT

“If at first you don’t succeed, pretend,” says acclaimed science theatre writer/performer John Hinton, who has made a career out of his interest in science, story-telling and singing.

Two of his three Tangram Theatre Company ‘Scientrilogy’ shows are returning to Australia for National Science Week, after successful UK shows, and an award-winning season at the Adelaide Fringe festival.

Albert Einstein: Relativitively Speaking tells the story of the eccentric theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, accompanied by his two wives and mum on the piano, and by guest rapper MC Squared. The show quantum leaps through two world wars, two theories of relativity, and the deployment of two very big bombs.

Brisbane: Sunday 12 to Monday 13 August Event details

Canberra: Friday 17 to Sunday 19 August Event details

The Element in the Room: A Radioactive Musical Comedy about the Death and Life of Marie Curie tells the story of the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and whose work continues to affect our lives today.

Brisbane: Friday 10 to Monday 13 August Event details

Canberra: Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: Michelle Cooper, or 0420 507 374

Teaching STEM… through dance!—Subiaco & Mandurah, WA

Can dance help disadvantaged girls to engage in STEM and become the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists? US dancer and algebra teacher Yamilée Toussaint says it can. She’s the Founder and CEO of STEM From Dance.

Yamilée has personally experienced the benefits of a STEM education and dance. After studying mechanical engineering at MIT and being an avid dancer for 21 years, she switched gears to teach high school algebra in an under-served community in East New York, Brooklyn through Teach For America.

Yamilée is the keynote speaker at the WA launch of National Science Week. While in Australia, she will also present a two-hour science-meets-dance workshop for people aged 15-25 who live in the Peel region.

Launch: Thursday 9 August Event details

Workshop: Sunday 12 August Event details

Media enquiries: Emmaline Yearsley,, 08 9215 0739 or 0407 809 508

Pathetic Fallacy: weather in the theatre—Darwin, NT

Climate change is turning small talk about the weather into high drama. How does Canadian theatre director and creator Anita Rochon challenge our understanding of the weather in the hot Top End of Australia?

Over the past 40 years, there have been more frequent extreme weather events than ever before in human history. Up until 40 years ago, hurricanes were only given female names. Hurricanes with female names kill more people than hurricanes with male names because people don’t prepare for them as thoroughly. People will accept any colour of sky in a painting as realistic. A green sky means a storm is coming.

Using a temperamental broadcast media green screen, this piece takes on our changing relationship to weather. Pathetic Fallacy fuses raw fantasy with research into classical art, small talk, forecasting and how storms get named. In each performance, Anita involves a different local stand-in to take on the central role in a work that draws a line between ancient weather gods and present-day conundrums.

Friday 10 to Sunday 12 August Event details

Media enquiries: Matt Fraser,, 02 8065 7363 or 0401 326 007

Moving Climates—Braddon, ACT

How does it feel to spend your working life dealing with the data of disaster? How does it change you? And how do others perceive you?

Moving Climates is a public showing of a performance in development in which an actor, a dancer, a digital artist and a composer explore these questions, responding to interviews with climate scientists.

This creative development is a chance to see a work in progress, give feedback to the artists on how the work might develop, and discuss the issues it raises.

Friday 17 to Sunday 19 August Event details

Media enquiries: Robin Davidson, or 0415 464 202

Megafauna: in the Shadow of the Great Beasts—Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

This National Science Week, the Miocene is back on the scene. Back from the dead and ‘live’ as shadow puppets: Northern Territory’s ancient megafauna, including marsupial lions and tigers, mega-crocs, and Dromornis, the biggest bird that ever lived.

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) fossil collection and local stories provide the source material for a show that brings Central Australia’s extinct megafauna to life. MAGNT will work with Barking Spider Visual Theatre to produce a captivating shadow puppetry installation to bring to life the stories of the ancient megafauna that once roamed throughout Central Australia over six million years ago. A season of public performances and hands-on arts-science workshops will take place at MAGNT in Darwin during Science Week.

Friday 17 to Saturday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: Tessa Duke, or 08 8936 4208

Why You’re Not Dead Yet—Melbourne, VIC

Neuroscientist Dave Farmer gives a comedic, educational talk about the arse end of the brain (aka the brainstem) filtered through Jackson Voorhaar’s non-educational comedy mind to help disseminate the information to the layidiot.

Why You’re Not Dead Yet blends science and comedy to explore the  subconscious functions of the brain stem—Dave’s particular area of expertise—with detours into the origin of Frankenstein, the 18th century Italians who invented the battery by accident, and Dave’s insecurity in party settings.

The brainstem is the area of the brain that regulates things like your heart rate, your blood pressure and your breathing. Scientists that study fancy things like consciousness would call this ‘housekeeping’ but Dave calls it ‘Why You’re Not Dead Yet’.

Friday 17 to Saturday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: David Farmer, or 0468 421 165

Parasite Paradise at the Art Gallery of Ballarat

What role do parasites play in human health? Find out through the research of parasitologists, and the digital art and animation in the work Gula Guri mayin (which means ‘heal the body’) by Indigenous artist Bernard Lee Singleton.

This event involves science-art workshops and brings together scientists, artists and the public to explore the science of parasites and its relation to human health. The program also includes the ‘Parasite Paradise’ interactive display with microscopes and other activities, a Café Scientifique event with science talks over drinks, and a science-art movie making workshop.

Saturday 11 to Sunday 19 August Event details

Media enquiries: Lisa Jones, or 0405 620 747