Artwork showcases rich collaboration

A collaborative dialogue between a chemical biologist and an established visual artist has resulted in a captivating new façade for a central Bendigo building.

Artist Ms Danica Chappell has worked with La Trobe University scientist Dr Donna Whelan, to create a photographic collage that envelops the La Trobe Art Institute (LAI), with some components captured by one of the most powerful fluorescence microscopes in the country.

Far From the Eye: Darkfield is commissioned for PHOTO 2021 – a major international festival of photography across Melbourne and regional Victoria in its inaugural year.

Ms Chappell said the façade highlights the history of a process that is vital to both her and Donna’s work – photography.

“Photography at its fundamental roots spans both art and science. Whether a scientist is reading a photographic image for a factual analysis, or an art-lover is seeing narrative, shape, texture or tone, how the image is formed holds inherent value and intrigue,” Ms Chappell said.

Dr Whelan said parts of the façade, mainly visible at night, showcase the impressive power of a $300,000 fluorescence microscope housed at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus.

“In sections of the work, particles smaller than a pin-head have been captured, enlarged and are now covering metres of a building – it’s quite extraordinary to see it at that scale,” Dr Whelan said.

Ms Danica Chappell works on the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri peoples in Naarm (Melbourne). Working with the elasticity of process from ‘darkroom haptic’ actions, she skirts the peripheries of photography to deconstruct material conventions.

Dr Donna Whelan is a Bendigo-based chemical biologist who explores DNA damage and repair pathways, including researching underlying mechanisms of host-virus interactions and neurodegeneration.

The La Trobe Art Institute (LAI) is La Trobe University’s hub of arts practices, engagement and cultural collections. It is a civic gathering place that fosters artistic and intellectual exchange through collaboration and curatorship.

More microscope-derived images are on display in the LAI until 13 March. More on the collaboration is here. More on the LAI here.

PHOTO 2021 International Festival of Photography features over 160 Australian and international artists exploring 'The Truth' across 65+ locations throughout Melbourne and Regional Victoria. The Festival runs from Thursday 18 February to Sunday 7 March 2021.

View the full program of outdoor artworks, exhibitions and events here.

Image: Artist Ms Danica Chappell (left) has collaborated with LIMS scientist Dr Donna Whelan to create an exhibition and new facade for the La Trobe Art Institute (LAI).

Media contact: Kate O’Connor – k.o’, 0436 189 629