Category Archives: Guest Posts

A Story of artists and the museum

Written by: Andrew MacDonald, Factory Supervisor Cobb+Co Museum

Biological science can inspire artists, not only with form but also display style.

In a previous life I worked in the art department of a regional university, where I looked after the studios and taught sculpture techniques. One of my colleagues was the textiles lecturer, and we decided to collaborate after we noticed similarities in our work. I predominately used timber and metal, Sarah Rayner worked in fabric with embroidery and weaving.

We began by partially making a piece each then handing it over for the other to complete. After the first couple we couldn’t stop, deciding to collaborate to produce an exhibition with a museum feel.

Source material

We agreed that our work would be botanical or insect inspired, like case moths, beetles and seed pods. As we both lived in rural areas, Cabarlah and Ravensbourne, we focused on local species like Grevillea, Eucalypts, Flindersia, Castanospermum and other trees around us.

These forms were closely observed, manipulated and re-imagined in a combination of materials. To better view the locale, I walked along the road from Sarah’s house to Ravensbourne National Park. I noted native vegetation and exotics, and collected finds on the roadside. One discovery that changed our approach was a shredded inner tube. It became the material we could both work with, and physically joined many of the pieces.

Display style

We both identified as ‘museumophiles’ and loved the old Queensland Museum. The memories of pulling out drawers of pinned insects prompted us to display our work in a museum collection style. We designed glass fronted cases with handles, and labelled many works like insect displays, with a pinned tag bearing an obscure Latin name. We spent many hours inventing titles with the help of a Latin dictionary and a glass of wine.

The first exhibition was at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, who purchased three of the works for their collection. With that success we approached Artisan Gallery, of Craft Queensland who agreed, and we received an Arts Queensland grant for exhibition and catalogue costs.

Runaway success

The popularity of the exhibition prompted an extension at the gallery. From local media coverage we were picked up by several curators, which meant inclusion in the Craft Australia exhibition, Material Speaks, at SOFA, Chicago; and we were asked to apply for a large sculpture commission with Brisbane City Council.

Our proposal was accepted, and we went on to install larger works very similar in content and style along Melbourne Street, West End. The inspiration was the original rainforest vegetation of the area. We used aluminium- cast or pressed, to make the pieces durable. We also produced laser cut aluminium lettering, of faux Latin nomenclature, like Flindersia westendus.

Old works re-imagined

My role in QM is a fascinating mix of technical and creative work, with a dash of history. At home I still make constructions in aluminium and rubber, and Sarah now makes exquisite porcelain pieces based on native flora. Working at QM suggested a way of linking old and new pieces, by mixing them into the museum displays. The forms find new echoes with collection specimens, and the display boxes merge into the museum matrix!

Visitors to Cobb+Co have the opportunity to see more than horse drawn vehicles. The Inquiry Centre has an eclectic mix of objects from the past, fauna specimens, and physics interactives. Can they stimulate new connections or creations in the observant visitor?

To the teachers, thank you

As of Monday 25 May 2020, all Queensland school students are set to go back to school, after many being at home doing school virtually for some time.

The importance of teachers and their pivotal role in our youth’s lives cannot be overlooked. During this unique and unprecedented time, teachers have been responsive and supportive in transitioning whilst helping students and parents alike.

With this, we wanted to shine a light on teachers and thank them for the work they do.

Teachers have the unique ability to guide us in the right direction, make us believe in ourselves and encourage us to be creative and imaginative. 

We asked some of our staff to share their thanks to a teacher they know.

Luke, Public Engagement

Thank you to the teachers of my daughters at this difficult time, you have built a magnificent garden for their sunflower minds and importantly, even now, each day you bring the sunshine.

Ronnie, Cobb + Co

In high school I studied a French Immersion language program, which was introduced in Australia by a passionate teacher I was lucky enough to learn from. While at first it was incredibly challenging studying core subjects such as Math, Geography and Science in a completely different language, the rewards were so worthwhile. He provided the most stimulating, fun and encouraging educational environment every day and certainly made an impact on my life. Thank you!

Zoe, Marketing

Thank you to my high school geography teacher. You were very enthusiastic about geography and teaching our class. Every lesson you walked through the doors with a beaming smile and after each topic you taught us you would say “now isn’t that just fascinating!” You believed in me and pushed me to work hard. I will always remember that class fondly and the passion you had for learning.

Bernadette, Major Projects and Exhibitions

Teachers have always amazed and inspired me. A great teacher is a true gift.  Most recently, I had two university associate professors guiding my doctoral studies – they were not only a knowledge bank but life coaches as well. They imparted their extensive knowledge, challenged my engrained perceptions and helped and encouraged me to reach the end when the going got tough. To them, I will be eternally grateful and hope I can inspire others in the way they inspired me. I am also grateful that I live in a country that allows me and other women to learn and to teach.  

Andrew, The Workshops Rail Museum

Thank you to my high school economics teacher who, especially in Year 12, provided guidance and support that enabled me to achieve successful subject results. Year 12 is stressful and demanding and your patience, insight and ability to provide humour, when needed, was greatly appreciated. Your enthusiasm for the school and the learning environment are memorable and I do reflect on that time with much fondness.

Chae, Lifelong Learning

I would like to thank the teachers who took me under their wing during each of my preservice teaching placements. I learnt a great deal from your skills and experience. You each gave me the freedom to take risks in the classroom and to learn from the outcomes. In your own ways, you provided me with the support, encouragement and feedback I needed to develop my self-confidence and teaching ability – and it is this that really helped to prepare me for my own future classrooms.

Gabriel, Museum of Tropical Queensland

We moved to America for a few years back in 1979. I had to start year 9 at West Roxbury High School, in Boston, a week after we arrived. Speaking minimal English I was terrified on how I would manage to attend classes. Lucky for me, I came across a Greek American Teacher, Mr Kalogerakos. To this day, I feel that I owe him so much. He started helping me with my English after school, and got to the extreme of translating in Greek any of my other subjects. Also, I still remember what he had said to me.  “Watch random shows on TV. With what you learn after school, you will be able to understand in 3 months and speak really well in 6”. He was right. The only bad thing is that I am now addicted to television. Thanks for your guidance.

Museum for Teens: Lost Creatures

Written by: Tim Janetzki is a student at Ferny Grove State High School who has taken it upon himself to discover the Queensland Museum and the amazing things within it. Over the coming months Tim will blog about his personal experiences and views on the Museum. His first assignment was discovering Lost Creatures: Stories from Ancient Queensland.

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