Name of Scientist / Researcher: Si-Chong Chen
Name of Artist: Shona Wilson
Science and art should be twins. Many ideas and achievement in sciences are hard to be conveyed to the general public, if without proper artistic vectors. For example, ecology (my study field) is the study of interactions among organisms, which could be more abstract than some physical objectives. The continuum of our biosphere has many interesting aspects and is highly correlated with human life, as such the consequence of global climate change. However, many scientists should admit that they are not sufficiently good at deciphering and spreading the metaphysical points in their research to the general public using an easy-understanding daily language (well, at least myself). Therefore, I am seeking collaboration with artists to expect efficient communication with educated people who are interesting in my research.
I see a need to extend and expand my practice from a primarily 'commercial' one, to one of more engagement with community and cultural /educational institutions around Nature and natural systems and their importance to our physical, cognitive and spiritual wellbeing and growth.
To have a framework and platform to experiment in projects such as Ku-ring-gai PH brings gravitas and gives elevation to natural phenomenologies and is an exciting cauldron for discovery and its communication via the cultural public arena. I was brought up in Manly and spent many weekends in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park bushwalking with my parents. I have a deep and formative connection to this place
Working with Sichong Chen (a ‘seed scientist’) will provide and prompt divergent data and methodologies to describe ‘place’, ‘environment’, ‘material’ and ‘system’ in transformative and new ways. Connecting science to art to nature is infinitely inspiring.
Field of research / interest
My research focuses on the factors shaping the large-scale patterns in the interactions between animals and plants. I have compiled an unprecedented database of vertebrates and their fruit diets, and overturned the assumption that large animals ingest large seeds. I travelled up and down the east coast of Australia to over 25 national park from southern Tasmania to Far North Queensland, to quantify the latitudinal gradients in seed predation and seed defence. Contrary to traditional expectations, my study suggests that seeds are not more predated or better defended towards the tropics. On the way of turning our scientific knowledge to real wisdom, we should constantly test our long-held beliefs rather than follow the herd.
About your art practice
I believe experiential and immersive re-connection with Nature is of paramount importance to the future of our species and the global environment. Focussing on details in natural found materials for the past 25 yrs has been an intimate journey into Nature’s wonder and curiosity about (it's purported) intelligent design. More recently my work has engaged with the microscopic levels of life and its synthesis with plastics, playfully investigating this as futuristic fractured fairy-tale of our current cross-pollinations with the natural world. Microcosms can be metaphors for macroscopic ideas.
I want to return to the use of solely natural material again. WHY? In my experience, natural systems and materials, when healthy, produce and are produced by harmonious forms, sounds and vibrational patterns which can consequently affect our state of being. I am keen to translate this feeling of natural harmony into a visual language so that some of the immense beauty of Nature may be experienced viscerally in an urban /cultural environment.
Although born and raised in a metropolis in central China, I have been fascinated by the natural world and yearned for a rural life since my childhood. My experience of cancer research in my undergraduate years made me think about and be determined to study the relationship between human and natural environments. After spending two years in the tropical rainforests near the south-western boundary of China, I came alone to Australia for a Doctor of Philosophy degree in the University of New South Wales. Now I am at the late stage of finishing my degree, and appreciate every moment I spend in Australia. I wish to continue with my research work, and to discover the mystery in our great nature.
Shona Wilson is a contemporary Australian sculptor, who has engaged with natural found material to create both abstract and representational, 2-D assemblages and 3-D sculptures. Her work is held in public and private collections and she has been the recipient of various scholarships and residencies and prizes throughout her career.
Shona currently lives and works on the NSW mid-north coast and is represented by Arthouse Gallery in Sydney and Mossgreen Gallery in Melbourne – Australia.
Shona has recently expanded her art practice to involve facilitation of workshops and online art projects.