SCIENCE PRIZE: The multimedia work Open Air has won collaborating artists Grayson Cooke of Southern Cross University and Emma Walker the 2020 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize.
SCIENCE PRIZE: The multimedia work Open Air has won collaborating artists Grayson Cooke of Southern Cross University and Emma Walker the 2020 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize.

Stunning art and science collaborations wins top award

A MULTIMEDIA work Open Air has won collaborating artists Dr Grayson Cooke of Southern Cross University and Emma Walker the 2020 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize.

This visual music project set to the 2013 album ‘Open’ by Australian cult band The Necks combines time-lapse Landsat satellite imagery of Australia from Geoscience Australia’s Digital Earth Australia project and videography by SCU Associate Professor, together with aerial macrophotography of paintings by Ms Walker.

The resulting work encapsulates the vastly different forms of aerial earth imaging to produce a complex picture of a changing planet.

The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize is Australia’s premier biennial natural science art prize.

The winners were announced at ceremony at the South Australian Museum on Saturday night and Dr Cooke and Ms Walker received a $30,000 cash prize.

The judges praised Dr Grayson and Ms Walker’s work.

“The work is a synthesis of the Australian landscape and artistic practice,” the judges said.

“Both are examined individually and then woven together in such a skilful way as to make it challenging to distinguish which is landscape and which is art.

The images are then bound further together by a mesmerising soundtrack. By bringing natural science and art together so seamlessly makes this a worthy winner of the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize 2020.”

When asked how it felt to be named the Open Category winner Dr Cooke said winning this prize couldn’t be a more perfect accolade.

“Open Air captures the complexity and majesty of this extraordinary blue dot that we live on,” he said.

“Its resilience and its frailty and how imperative it is for us to value it, as our lives do depend on it.:

Ms Walker said everyone must “stop taking it for granted and to revere and care for it.”

“These are the imperatives of our times,” she said.

Dr Cooke said there were two parts of inspiration behind this work.

“Firstly, the project had a chance to do this intricate and close-up examination of Emma Walker’s amazing paintings and processes, and the idea of exploring them as topographies that reflect the Australian landscape at micro-scale,” he said,

“This then merged into the idea of time lapsing the Australian continent on a very large-scale using satellite imagery.

Bringing these strands together and seeing their remarkable commonality was the huge joy of this project.”


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