Creative Conversations about Conservation: an exhibition curated by Nicholas Smith


An exhibition review.

One of the outcomes of encouraging researchers to embrace creativity (see previous blog) in their publications is that they do, and this can result in a range of creative events. This exhibition is one such event, where several conservation researchers decided to publish some creative aspects of their research in the mode of an art exhibition.

The exhibition as a research publication is a relatively innovative way to publish one’s research or portions of one’s research, and can be undertaken by a single researcher, or as is the case with this exhibition, a collaboration with the support of an exhibition curator.

The purpose of the Creative Conversations about Conservation exhibition is twofold:
Firstly, each of the researchers is celebrating their individual creative talents and demonstrating how their creative flair plays an integral part in their research work and publication.
Secondly, the collaborative Artefact ( ) has used the exhibition as an example of the different ways researchers can embrace creative work and to draw attention to their agenda in supporting researchers in doing this.

There is little doubt when you think of some of the iconic scientific research that imagery plays an important part. For me, what comes to mind are the finch variations evident in the drawings of the birds (attributed to Susan William-Ellis)in Darwin’s species survival thesis and the drawings of the pneumatic pump in Boyle’s iconic experiment witnessing research. In contemporary times, many scientists advocate the importance of images in disseminating their research. One such scientist, Connie Bransilver, says she uses photography to help scientists shed light on their work and create that emotional connection that moves others to action. She talks about her photographs as enticing people to pay attention

The Creative Conversations about Conservation exhibition is notable for it eclecticism, a compliment to the curator in his efforts to bring the broad range of works into a single entity. It includes drawings, paintings, photographs, videos and even a children’s mobile and a board game that explores endangered species. The artwork of each of the pieces on exhibition speaks to the creative talents of each of the exhibitors and the didactics or exhibition labels advance the scientific context of each of the works and provide insights into the artist/researcher’s purpose for the artwork in their research.

As I attended this exhibition I asked myself the question ‘Did this exhibition help to extend or initiate conversations about conservation?’. I believe it did in that when you see the beauty of some of these plants and animals it makes you more attuned to the fear of the loss of such beauty.

What relevance do publications of this sort have to research supervisors?

In my own experience with cabaret, my research supervisor attending one of my creative expression events resulted in her encouraging me to write a cabaret for my doctoral degree and this was included as one of the in-candidature publications. I believe that when a research supervisor is aware of their student’s creative bent, this should be encouraged as in the broader context their creativity will be an asset in disseminating the content of their research. Sometimes presenting material or ideas in a new light works in the same way as creating a new piece of knowledge, that the researcher enables the readers/viewers to understand an issue with a new attitude.

The exhibition is scheduled to have a public showing at Visions Studio Gallery, Level 2 Absoe Warehouse, 51 Mollison Street, West End (opposite The Three Monkey’s Cafe) on Friday, 23rd January, 2015 From 6:00 p.m.

David Lack’s (1947, 166) book ‘Darwin’s Finches’ accredits the drawings of the finches to Susan Williams-Ellis.


About the (research) supervisor's friend

I work at a university helping university academics who are supervising research students. I am a research supervisor myself and also work as a research coach for people undertaking their research I was originally in a Management Faculty and when I completed my doctoral studies on 'doing a doctorate' I started working with research supervisors to help them improve their practice.
This entry was posted in research supervision provisioning a creative environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Creative Conversations about Conservation: an exhibition curated by Nicholas Smith

  1. martinadif says:

    Reblogged this on Martina Di Fonzo and commented:
    I have been helping prepare an exhibition dedicated to exploring new ways of communicating conservation science alongside a collective of scientists and artists, which we have called “Artefact”. We had our first event on Wednesday! Dr. Geof Hill kindly reviewed it on his blog:

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