Art and science unite to showcase wetland ecosystems   

This year’s National Science Week program sees the launch of Wetland Wanders, a Griffith University project supported by Advance Queensland that unites art, science and technology in an exhibition exploring the rich diversity of Queensland’s wetlands.

Australian Rivers Institute wetland ecologist Dr Fernanda Adame Vivanco said wetlands were one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. They store three times more carbon than terrestrial forests, improve water quality and are home to various species. Dr Adame Vivanco said wetland conservation is critical but can be challenging when there is a lack of public understanding about the importance of wetlands.

“Wetlands can provide us three of the most basic needs for all humans: water, food, and protection,” Dr Adame Vivanco said.

“It is for the benefit of all to conserve and restore these important ecosystems. Wetlands are not mosquito-infested swamps, they are beautiful, and crucial for our existence.”

Dr Adame Vivanco’s research focuses on the values of wetlands, especially in mitigating carbon emissions and improving water quality. She is currently studying the role of wetlands in Queensland, with a particular focus on wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef regions.

The project is part of an exciting portfolio of collaborations across the creative arts and environmental sciences at Griffith University investigating the role of creativity in ecological engagement and climate action.

Sound artist Dr Leah Barclay from the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre has been exploring the acoustic ecology of wetlands and has created immersive soundscapes for the exhibition with recordings from various aquatic and terrestrial wetland ecosystems.

Walking/media artist James Cunningham and multimedia artist Suzon Fuks, co-artistic directors of Igneous, following on from their Fluidata and Waterwheel projects, have created projection installations for the exhibition that draw on material filmed on location in wetlands throughout Queensland, including landscape drones, 360 cameras and meditative walks.

Mr Cunningham sees the exhibition as “an immersion into the environmental, cultural and aesthetic values of wetlands”.

The exhibition launches during National Science Week at White Box Gold Coast Gallery on August 10 and Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University on August 14.

The project has been supported by the Queensland Government, Advance Queensland, The Wetlands Program, Igneous, The Australian Rivers Institute, QCA Galleries, and the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre at Griffith University.

More on the exhibition’s contributors

Fernanda Adame Vivanco

Wetland Ecologist at Griffith University
Fernanda’s research focuses on the values of wetlands, especially on their role in mitigating carbon emissions and improving water quality. She currently works on studying the role of wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef to ameliorate nitrogen inputs and the feasibility of creating a mangrove protected area with carbon credits in Mexico.

Leah Barclay
Sound Artist, Composer, Researcher
Leah works at the intersection of art, science and technology, specialising in acoustic ecology, ecoacoustics and sound art. Large-scale projects include Biosphere Soundscapes–exploring the changing soundscapes of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and River Listening–on freshwater ecoacoustics in collaboration with the Australian Rivers Institute. She is currently a Research Fellow at Griffith University in Australia, working on acoustic ecology and climate change.

James Cunningham
Walking/Media Artist, Igneous Co-Director
Engages in durational stillness and conscious walking, through performance and video. Examines the limits of bodily perception, performativity and the relationality of one’s self with others, objects, and environment. A lead artist in ‘Fluidata’–an immersive installation and performance produced by Igneous on waterways throughout Queensland.

Suzon Fuks
Multimedia Artist, Igneous Co-Director
Bridging art, science and the environment, she uses body-based practices, the moving image, photography and interactive technologies to voice people’s concerns about water, women and people seeking asylum. Multi-award-winner, she also received the prestigious Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship and Copeland Fellowship. She initiated and founded the art-science online platform Waterwheel, dedicated to water issues and produced by Igneous (2011—2016).