Griffith lecturer joins Smithsonian for artist residency

Queensland Conservatorium lecturer Professor Vanessa Tomlinson recently became an artist-in-residence at the renowned Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex.

Professor Tomlinson joined the Smithsonian as part of its 2019 Year of Music. During her week-long residency, she created a series of site-specific musical experiences in the Smithsonian’s gardens, museums and galleries.

“I coined the term ‘soundings’ to describe the way a musician activates a place or space,” she said.

“During my residency I used sound as a way to explore the Smithsonian.”

Professor Tomlinson worked with former Queensland Conservatorium Director Huib Schippers, who now heads up the Smithsonian’s Folkways program, Smithsonian Year of Music Production Manager Erin Dowdy, and a team of musicians from around the US.

As part of the project, Professor Tomlinson and her collaborators created four hours of new music, which provided a new way of interacting with the Smithsonian collection.

“None of these soundings were performances with a clear beginning and end,” she said.

“These sonic interventions provided a new way of interconnecting objects, histories and stories and cultures.”

This project follows Professor Tomlinson’s site specific work at the Piano Mill in Stanthorpe, which won a World Architecture Award last year.