Alumni Update | Issue One 2015

Exploring inner spaces

Reflections on SAHMRI residency

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is a leading light in the world of science – but it’s also helped showcase the talents of two emerging local artists.

UniSA graduates Bridgette Minuzzo and Sonya Unwin were artists in residence at the iconic new building from March to September 2014. Their residency culminated in an exhibition, The Space Within, presented as part of SALA Festival in August 2014.

Bridgette's contribution to the exhibition, SAHMRI Through Another Lens, is a moving image interpretation of the building’s form and function, lighting, and shadows throughout the seasons. The work earned her a spot as a finalist in The Advertiser Contemporary Art Award and the Moving Image Award for SALA.

Sonya created a series of portrait paintings for the exhibition, which she developed through conversations with many of the scientists who were setting up in the newly completed building. Two of her exhibition pieces will be hung permanently in SAHMRI.

We spoke with Bridgette and Sonya about their extraordinary talents and bright career starts.

Bridgette Minuzzo - inner spaces through moving image

Adelaide artist and Visual Arts Honours graduate Bridgette Minuzzo has spent most of her life designing and making things. Childhood experiences at the local creek, camping or at the beach, making things from collected shells, seedpods, rocks, and feathers informed her ultimate choice to pursue an artistic career.

“After a few years studying biological sciences at university I ended up spending more time in the art and craft room than the laboratories… I was able to sculpt from a live model and the clay seemed to come to life in my hands,” says Bridgette.

“Then I travelled the world for a year looking at art and architecture. I’d found my passion; I enrolled at art school.”

Bridgette completed her undergraduate Bachelor of Design in Ceramics at UniSA in 1993 and spent many years working as a full-time artist working in project based community art, design commissions and public art projects. In 2011 she completed an Honours Degree in Visual Arts where she began to develop exhibition work and explore moving image, photography, installation and soundscapes.

Her graduation piece Wallpaper, a slowly transitioning digital wallpaper, won the City of Adelaide Art Award at the 2012 Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition and earned her many opportunities to make new moving image work.

In 2013 Bridgette was commissioned by the Art Gallery of South Australia to make Of Light and Clouds in conjunction with the blockbuster exhibition Turner from the Tate. She also formed a partnership with the Adelaide Festival Centre to present Phantasmagoria, a projection and soundscape production as part of the Festival Centre’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

View two one minute clips from Phantasmagoria
Phantasmagoria The Stage
Phantasmagoria Concrete and Steel
Explore Bridgette's SAHMRI work "SAHMRI Through Another Lens"

Bridgette’s next mission is to undertake a Master of Visual Arts course at UniSA on a scholarship, with a cross disciplinary approach involving visual art, urban design, health and population science.

Bridgette has also secured state government funding to team up with the Wellbeing and Resilience Centre at SAHMRI and produce Sounding Space, Singing SAHMRI: a live a cappella project which she will produce alongside new media/sound artist/composer Jason Sweeney as part of a Helpmann/Guildhouse mentorship.

Sonya Unwin - landscapes of the mind

Painter Sonya Unwin graduated from UniSA early in 2014 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Painting), right before she became involved with the SAHMRI residency.

Sonya’s fascination with collaborating with scientists led her to apply for the residency. She focused her work on SAHMRI research and the people who work there.

A highlight was working with internationally renowned depression and translational neuroscience expert, Professor Julio Licinio, the inaugural Mind and Brain Theme Leader at SAHMRI. He has proposed a ‘War on Mental Illness’ to bring a new focus to research into psychiatric disorders such as depression, the largest cause of non-fatal disease burden in Australia.

"I would really like to work more with him," says Sonya, who was struck by Prof Licinio’s proactive approach and the power of art in healing the mind.

Sonya is keen to continue exploring the ideas that evolved from the residency, and to pursue other art and science residencies in future.

"I have a joint exhibition in McLaren Vale with artist Sarah McDonald booked for November 2015 to coincide with the Fleurieu Prize,” says Sonya.

Sonya has just been accepted to undertake an Honours degree in Visual Art at UniSA.

View more of Sonya’s work

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