ID Location Taxonomy Terms
2784 We loved each other Bass Strait, Carmel Bird, Lisa Roberts

Carmel Bird wrote (in 2022): ‘The British claimed as their own the land that had for many thousands of years belonged to the Aboriginal people. A state of war, known as the Black Wars, existed between the invaders and the original landowners. The savage British imperialists liked to imagine they had eradicated the Aboriginal people, but in fact the people had survived, knowing themselves to be the true owners of the land.’

Lisa Roberts: When I heard Carmel’s story of the mother’s fear of death changing the love the mother had for the child, I thought about separations within my own family. Could it be that some of these were related to another fear? Did the dread of exposure of our roots in the ancient peoples of this land split my family in ways that appeared to me at the time to be incomprehensible? Her story also triggers memories of other people I have witnessed demonising Mother nature as a way of coping with their fear of her. Demonising the very victim of their abuse. I find great strength and courage in recognising the feelings in Carmel's story spiralling out from the personal to the universal.

Whale and krill

Whale and Krill, ancient ancestors of Humans

-41.26, 147.08 Art
2783 Salt and fresh waters dance Australian rivers and ocean currents, Lisa Roberts

When dancer and musician Eric Avery asked artist Lisa Roberts if they could dance together she made this animation.

australia rivers and ocean currents

-33.89, 151.179 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
170 Spirit seeding Lisa Roberts, Maddison Gibbs

Barkindje artist Maddison Gibbs creates this necklace of eucalyptus flower seeds from Wiradjuri Country, Kandos, New South Wales, and on Monday 1 November 2021, as the moon is waning over Bpangarang Country, Beechworth, Victoria, it arrives to share 'love, strength, thoughts and spirit'.

-36.335, 146.68 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Art
169 Rebuilding at Wheoh Simon Pockley
Memory painting by Simon Pockley
Memory painting by Simon Pockley

Watch video:

On Sunday, 12th January 2013, a bushfire (named Wambelong) escaped from the Warrumbungle National Park. It swept through Wheoh, burning plants, wildlife and the 36 year old hand-made house built on a small sandstone rise among scribbly gums (E. rossii). The impact on our family and Wheoh is most eloquently expressed by my daughter, Bonnie, in two of her own blog posts: In Memoriam (15th January 2013) and The Lonely Bones (19th January 2013).

Our family, as well as visitors, were accustomed to recording thoughts in hand-written journals (dating back to 1975). Sadly, the volume covering the years 2011-2013 was lost in the fire as well as a memory painting (above). Earlier volumes, removed in anticipation of the fire, have now been returned. In July 2013, I began the process of rebuilding and more volumes are being shelved. This, more fire proof and publicly accessible record, consists of 3 minute videos with occasional written posts. It's an attempt to capture the resilience of a fire ecology for family, friends, and anyone attracted to the serenity of reclusion, self-sufficiency and the process of making things out of what comes to hand. If I have a guiding principle it's a sense of gratitude that nothing lasts, is finished, or is perfect.

Thoughts on my own sense of belonging In Place. In 2019, drought records were broken with a mere 167.6 mm annual rainfall (average 600 mm). See 100 years of data 1886-2020.


-31.45, 149.16 Art and Scientific Method
167 The Dying Darling Sarah Moles

Writer Sarah Moles and artist Michael Pospischil notice the river is in bad shape. Over the course of a year or so they travel the length of it talking to scientists, irrigators, Indigenous owners and the politicians about their view of the Darling.

-28, 152 Art and Scientific Method
166 A Botanical Garden tells stories Darren Charlwood Tree painting by Darren Charlwood


-33.8642, 151.2166 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
165 Parallel William Gladstone


Two Flutemouth, swimming in opposite directions, pass one another under the jetty at Chowder Bay, Sydney Harbour.

-33.48, 151.5 Art and Scientific Method
164 Clingfish William Gladstone

August 5, 2021. Waiting for the next client. An Eastern Cleaner Clingfish rests on the trunk of Golden Kelp plant, waiting to clean the next fish that arrives at its cleaning station. Local Clingfish know the locations of cleaning stations and return again and again for a cleaning. This Clingfish is about 30 mm (a little more than 1 inch) long.

Eastern Cleaner Catfish

-33.49, 151.5 Art and Scientific Method
163 Shell necklaces Katherina Petrou, Lisa Roberts


This report, accessed today, 27 Sept 2020, tells of fears that disruptions to natural climate patterns will disrupt traditional cultural practices  in Tasmania:

Palawa artist Lola Greeno 's practice of making shell necklaces dates back hundreds (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of years.

Around 2004 I met Lola at the National Folk Festival in Canberra where she was selling some of her pieces. The photo above shows a necklace and bracelet I bought from her then. The white shells are 'cockles'. The black ones are 'black crows'.  

It's the maireener shells Lola also uses that are threatened. She reports, “My prediction is — and I hope I’m wrong — in 10 years, you will hardly see any maireener shells to make necklaces out of, sadly...”

-40.782, 148.026 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
158 Isle of Lewis Malina Monks

Artist Malina Monks speaks from her home in the Channon, Australia, about her  Scottish Gaelic cultural heritage. Born and raised on the Isle of Lewis, the most north-west island of Scotland, her animated language reflects the rhythms in nature she grew up with. Malina perpetuates her knowledge of rhythms in nature through weaving, ceramics, and story telling. She reflects on the cultural dis-posession of her ancestors during the  "Highland and Ireland Clearances" and gives vivid descriptions of their world that she was fortunate to inherit and pass on to her family.


58.21901, -6.38803 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Art
157 Tree spirit Gwanji Monks with Lisa Roberts


Gwanji Monks, September 2020:

"...I very much respond to the material itself. So as soon as this piece [Australian red cedar root] presented itself to me, I was confronted by this angel form. My brother [Chico] just recently passed, and so this is a response to that..."


-28.39, 153.16 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Art
156 Mystery Bay Ocean Dance Lisa Roberts with Gadu (Ocean), Andrew Constable, Paul Fletcher

"...On the evening of August 21, 2020, I stood on rocks at Mystery Bay, new South Wales. I stood with my partner beneath Guluga, the sacred mountain of the Yuin people. We came with technology to share with Gadu (Ocean) and Guruwal (Whale), some recordings of dance, song, music and poetry, to mark this start of Guruwal's journey South with her children, to feed on Euphausia superba (Antarctic krill). 

Dance, song, music and poetry is inspired by the complex choreography of the Global Ocean's continuous transformation from clockwise motion around Antarctica, with the Circumpolar Current spiralling upwards and outwards through the tropics, and dancing northward anti-clockwise through the Arctic."
Lisa Roberts, August 2020

Transformative nature of global ocean currents
Frame from the animation, Scientific modelling, by Lisa Roberts with Andrew Constable.
Dotted lines indicate the transformation of clockwise circumpolar currents around Antarctica,
to their clockwise motion as they move to the Arctic region.


-36.30361, 150.13028 Art and Scientific Method
155 The Art of Making Images Danae Fiore, with Review by Melissa Silk


Melissa Silk Review, 2020

In this scholarly work, Fiore presents the relationship between the Yagan First Nations people of Tierra del Fuego, the land, water and sociocultural systems as not only represented in images applied to tools, ornaments, non-utilitarian objects and bones, but also evident in material procurement and pigment production processes, which they traditionally used to create a wide array of body paintings, many of which embody ancestral beings and spirits with deep connections to the fauna and landscape. Such connections are still very present and active in the Yagan First Nation. We would be wrong to assume there is, or was, little connection between art/making and the Southern Ocean given its proximity to the ancestral territories of Tierra del Fuego’s Indigenous populations.

-54.86, -67.32 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Art
150 Whales return to land Max Dulumunmun Harrison, Bruce Pascoe, Katherina Petrou, Lisa Roberts Whale and krill


Max Dulumunmun Harrison:
Grandmother Moon, she comes up and shines down her light upon us. She pulls the tides of the sea. She has that much strength she can pull water up to the sky and hold it, until it's time to water her garden, Mother Earth.
(Yuin Elder Max Dulumunmun Harrison, 2009. My People's Dreaming: An Aboriginal Elder speaks on life, land, spirit and forgiveness. p.10)

Bruce Pascoe:
This is an old story. Older than everything. When the world was new, the lore was created, and the whale and the serpent looked out and saw the ocean.
I will look after the land because that is my home, but who will look after the ocean? said the serpent.

I will look after all the salt water, said the whale, because the fish and the turtles, the crabs and the weeds, the coral and the caves all need care.
But you will need to return to the land every now and then, said the serpent, to bring back your lore.
I will, said the whale. I will beach myself on the sand. I will come back to the land to regurgitate the lore so that the lore can be complete and the land and the sea can know each other.
And that's how it's always been: the whale patrols the oceans and the serpent slides across the land, creating rivers and mountains, lakes and plains.
The dedication of the whale in regurgitating the lore is visible in the deep south of the world, where her many lives can be seen in a long row of her bones - thousands of bones, thousands of skeletons - counting the aeons of the earth. Those aeons  are remembered in the lore, and the lore is observed.
(Bunurong and Yuin man Bruce Pascoe, 2019. Whale and Serpent, in Salt: Selected Stories and Essays, p. 134)

Katherina Petrou:
Western science tells us whales came from the sea, evolved on land into a wolf-like creature, Pakicetus, before returning to the sea, first as amphibious Ambulocetus, and through time evolving into completely aquatic animals of the ocean, emerging as the whales we see today (Gingerich et al. 1983; Thewissen & Hussain 1993).

Lisa Roberts:
The photo shows Gulaga, the sacred mountain of the Yuin people of the southern coast of NSW.  I made the drawing of a whale from seeing it engraved in sandstone south of Sydney. Inside the whale I drew an Antarctic krill [Euphausia superba] to show the ancient relationship between these creatures, and between Australia and Antarctica. I took the photo on Friday 21st August 2020. That evening there happened to be a new moon and high tide. I played the animated Ocean Dance on rocks in Mystery Bay, beneath Gulaga. Also Spirits Make Noise, a sister animation to Ocean Dance, made with young Barkindji artist Maddison Gibbs. Each animation combines new and ancient ways of expressing the cyclic annual journey of whales between Australia and Antarctica, between their warm northern water breeding grounds and icy southern feeding grounds.



-36.378, 150.13 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
149 Ocean Dance (v6) Stephen Taberner, Paul Fletcher, Lisa Roberts


Lisa Roberts:

"... Guided by choreographer Barbara Cuckson, I dance the transformation from clockwise circumpolar currents around Antarctica to the anticlockwise currents of the Arctic region. With bands of white paper taped around my head, wrists and ankles, the dance is video recorded under ultraviolet light. Animator Paul Fletcher then layers the light-traced gestures to reflect his experience of 'Flow' in our conversations with scientists and other artists, about the vital role of the Southern Ocean for human and planetary health."

Paul Fletcher:

"... “FLOW” - a perennial fascination for much timebased art of course
but in today's context many meanings, understandings of flow;
I was left thinking about
Flow of
Global ocean"

Stephen Taberner:

"...when we wander ...this music came about very directly... I looked at the images and played what I saw. quite soon there was a sense that was both nomadic and aquatic. so....I filled the sink with water and got to work with some saucepan lids and wine glasses..."


-60, -150 Art and Scientific Method
147 Ocean dance poem Andrew Constable, Lisa Roberts, Paul Fletcher et al.


Song, dance, rituals and more, use metaphors to connect ways of thinking that range from abstract to tangible. Flows of cultural knowledge through different times and places, inform and reinforce protocols necessary for maintaining healthy relationships between peoples and countries. Such protocols may be understood as Treaties, or agreements people make to live well together.

Animations made from conversations between people can bring together different responses to the same phenomenon. These animations may be thought about as 'collective animations', made by groups of people to reflect their different minds at work, that may provide a more holistic view. Collective animations may evolve, like the conversations that sustain them, but expanding as new data and stories open up new meanings, ideas, and questions for further investigation.

Collective animations can evolve as iterations that change to reflect new scientific data and new insights into ancient stories from cultural knowledge.  An early example of collective animation is Oceanic Living Data.

Three animations have been made from this collective process, with knowledge shared about the Southern Ocean: Ocean dance (v05), Ocean Dance (v6) Mystery Bay Ocean Dance







-68.438, 160.234 Art and Scientific Method
146 Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan Permission given to Tracey Benson to share from co-author Desna Whaanga-Schollum

Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari (Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan) He taonga tuku iho – treasures handed down from the ancestors.

The Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana is an incredible natural environment and a nationally significant place. For over a millenia, it has been a taonga to the people who belong to and identify with it.

The Gulf is now under significant pressure, and its communities have seen a marked decline in its mauri, environmental quality and abundance of resources.

Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari is your Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan, a collaborative effort between mana whenua, local and central goverment agencies, and local communities and interest groups.

It includes a number of significant principles, proposals and innovative measures to manage and protect the Gulf, and help deliver on our shared vision. A vision of the return of Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana as a place that is vibrant with life, has a strong mauri, is productive and supports healthy and prosperous communities.

About the Plan

Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari is a ground-breaking initiative, designed to secure a healthy, productive and sustainable future for the Hauraki Gulf . It will deliver a marine spatial plan towards the end of 2016. This plan will ultimately inform how the Hauraki Gulf is shared, used and stewarded for future generations.

We need Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari because environmental indicators tell us the Hauraki Gulf is an ecosystem under real pressure. Successive State of our Gulf reports clearly demonstrate the more we all use the gulf, the harder it is to keep it healthy.

Until now, managing pressures on the gulf has been difficult, because different agencies are responsible for managing and regulating different activities within the marine space. Through Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari, these agencies are turning to interest groups, communities and other stakeholders to work together collaboratively to find a solution. You can read in more detail about the challenges and opportunities facing the Gulf in our Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari factsheet. 

Mana whenua, Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, territorial authorities, the Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industries and the Hauraki Gulf Forum have all recognised that working in partnership – and empowering a wide range of stakeholders – is a way to get the best outcomes from the management of the gulf and its resources. You can read more about their partnership, and the Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) supporting the process, in who’s on board.

-36.6, 175 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
145 Drawing with fire Terangi Roimata Kutia-Tataurangi and Tracey Benson

At SCANZ Ocean*Energy residency in Mahia,  Aotearoa. A collaboration between Māori artist Terangi Roimata Kutia-Tataurangi and Tracey M Benson. We made some runes and released them to the ocean, as Terangi recited a karakia (a prayer). 

-39, 177 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Art
144 The Silence: Puanga Maata Wharehoka and Tracey Benson

Parihaka Kuia Maata Wharehoka and Tracey Benson collaborated to create a body of work  for the Puanga Kai Rau Festival in 2019. The festival celebrates the rise of the star Puanga (Rigel) which marks the beginning of the Māori new year on the west coast of Aotearoa. The working title of their ongoing collaboration is The Silence: Puanga. 

Maata and Tracey first met in 2015, when SCANZ2015 participants visited Parihaka to learn about cultural contexts for water. Tracey was very drawn to Maata’s work – especially her incredible efforts in reinvigorating Māori cultural practices around death and burial. The process is known as Kahu Whakatere and is based on traditional Māori beliefs, uses a waka or transporter made of natural wood, rather than a coffin. The body is also wrapped in a kopaki (mat) which is made from harakeke (flax).

In The Silence: Puanga, the artists explore time, the universe, place and story. The narrative threads which connect to our respective ancestors which we explored:


We used a range of media including weaving, photography/videography, blogging and bookmaking to develop a body of work for the festival in 2019. 

-39.2, 173.8 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Art
143 Walking with the Ancients: Waters of the Past Tracey Benson with DNA music by Josiah Jordan

In 2017, I returned to the village of my great great grandfather in Norway, to visit the church where I had traced my family from the parish book. The church had been standing on the site in Klokkastrua from 1150. The church was closed. I searched the graveyard, looking for a trace of my kin, finding no evidence. I felt dejected, not finding any connection to my ancestors. Then I noticed a big old Oak, standing proudly at the gate of the church. 

I realised that this Oak had witnessed my family, that it knew my ancestors. It had stood watching quietly the marking of significant events - baptisms, marriages, funerals. Overcome with emotion, I sat down under this ancient Elder, huddling close the the trunk of the tree, resting in the calm truth of time for what seemed an eternity.

Opposite the church there was a building, which looked like a small school but it happened that it was studios and a gallery, the Kulturhuset Hovtun. I met the manager, Maria, herself an artist. I mentioned that I was also an artist on a residency undertaking a project on ancestry in Drammen. She showed me around the studios and I told her about a recent video work that had a layered sound piece with music made with my DNA. I described my work as 'a meditative piece', which the curator found interesting, inviting me to present the work as a meditation in an evening of presentations and discussions around art, science and spirituality.

To sit in an ancestral place to share a work dedicated to my ancestors felt incredibly profound and 'meant to be.' 


59.6, 10.5 Art and Scientific Method
141 Echidna Leanne Lovegrove


Leanne Lovegrove is a woman of the Worimi, Biripi Nation, born in Sydney in 1962 and raised in the Thungatti Nation (Kempsey). She is a writer and an artist and works as a librarian at the Eora TAFE Library, Sydney.  One of her personal totems is the echidna. Here the echidna tells its story through Leanne's writing and sculptural art. This story of the echidna is part of her contribution to the 2020 Exhibition and Symposium, 'Listening in the Anthropocene', hosted by Charles Sturt University where she trained to be a librarian.


-31.07898, 152.83093 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge
140 Way of the Turtle: Exchanging Breath Collaboration with Lee Joachim, Martin Drury, Tracey M Benson. Vocals by Jo Tito and Sharon Atkinson.

The work for Water, Peace, Power at Parihaka seeks to acknowledge both the tangata whenua (people of the land) of Parihaka and the yenbena (Proud, Strong, Aboriginal People) of Yorta Yorta Nation. This site specific work is the first stage of the Way of the Turtle project, which focuses on cultural and community empowerment, skill sharing and finding the interconnections with other cultural perspectives. The project considers many layers of connection between water, land and people. The contiguity of the work includes the Dhungala creation story in Yorta Yorta and English languages, and data obtained via community engagement via TurtleSAT. This work acknowledges one of the Yorta Yorta totems, the Bayadherra (turtle) and the importance of the river to all life.

The Yorta Yorta belief is that “we are the land and the land is we”. The river represents our bloodstream, the mist represents our sweat and the rain represents our tears. In saying this, we also acknowledge the agreement made between the Crown and the Whanganui iwi which has given the Whanganui River legal rights as a sentient being.

“We are the river and the river is we”

-39.3, 173.8 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
133 Tidalectics Eveline Kolijn et al.


"The Tidalectics Portfolio showcases an interplay between printmaking and marine biology, by presenting the visual response of the artist to the research of the scientist. It follows both the historical tradition of graphically depicting the natural history of the ocean and the contemporary story of pressures on marine environments. Eleven international printmakers have been invited and connected with eleven ocean- and marine biology researchers. They created a visual response on the scientific research. The research unravels the environmental mechanisms at play and consequences for certain organisms such as coral and algae. There is focus on species such as sponges and manatees, on ocean winds and currents. Human ingenuity has harnessed bacterial filtering in traditional salt harvesting. Humans can now also propagate baby corals. We keep discovering hidden patterns in the sea and learn more about the influential role of life forms such as bacteriophages in the state of microbialised seas. In the age of the Anthropocene, the ontology of the ocean as an endless amorphous reservoir has changed towards seeing it as an entity, subjected to the effects of human actions. One of these ontological oceanic imaginaries is tidalectics. To Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite the ocean signifies a “tidal dialectic”, rooted in rhythms expressing anti-colonial sentiments. It draws on the rhythmic fluidity and cyclic movements of water. The concept of tidalectics has been adopted by curator Stefanie Hessler as a starting point to formulate an oceanic worldview, that engages differently with the ocean. “The fluidity and ripples allowing us to think of hybridity, cross-cultural syncretism, incompleteness, and fragmentation.” It envisions a dynamic merging and moving between the arts, sciences, history and environmental studies."

Eveline Kolijn, Artist-curator, 2020

21.368, -78.6569 Art and Scientific Method
132 Ammonite Aria in Cathedral of Thorns Eveline Kolijn

"Island life is a continuous dynamic between sea and land. We can see this in geological time. Ammonites were floating shells that lived in the sea millions of years ago. They do not exist anymore and fossilised with the coral reefs to become part of the island. From Sea to Land. Land, that feeds trees. Trees, like the thorny Wabi in Curaçao. Artist Herman van Bergen found a unique way to create building blocks from Wabi branches to build his cathedral of Thorns. A beautiful, meaningful and unique multi-layered vision, realised on the island of Curaçao. The cathedral houses works from many artists and my Ammonite Aria founds its home there too."

Eveline Kolijn, 2020

12.16957, -68.990021 Art and Scientific Method
131 Masson Range Fred Elliot, Lisa Roberts, Josef Goding, 2008


"Veteran Antarctic expeditioner Fred Elliott sent me an annotated copy

of his photolithograph, Masson Range, 1997,  and of the photo he took there in 1955.

In response to my question, 'what did you change in the landscape you drew?', he wrote,

"Note that downward sweep of the rock has been emphasised to enhance the twisting in the central patch of snow. It was the feeling of tremendous forces and heat moulding this dramatic part of the range that attracted me to it.

The shape of the snowdrift has been altered to lead the eye into the picture.

This [rock form] has been changed into a broad arrow-head plunging into the heart (albeit a white one!) of the composition.

There are plenty of ways down from here [top of ridge] but some were a bit 'iffy' so I made one that I could manage!

These shapes [overhangs] are emphasised  for pictorial values. I invented a lead  up from the foreground ice to the centre of the crux of the twisting. That hand contraction I mentionedis DUPUYTREN'S CONTRACTURE.

There was a meltwater stream running between the rock and the ice...

It was the feeling of tremendous forces and heat
moulding this dramatic part of the range, that attracted me to it."

Lisa Roberts, Sydney, 2007

-67.51, 62.5 Art
130 Scientific modelling Andrew Constable, Lisa Roberts, 2010


On 29 October 2010, at the Australian Antarctic Division, Tasmania, scientist Andrew Constable explains to Lisa Roberts (LR) what he means by modelling. He casts her a challenge, to 'make a scientific model attractive to people through art'. She responds with the animation, Scientific modelling that's a play on words, with an artist's model serving as a metaphor for a scientific model of the Southern Ocean.


A model is a construct that is an assembly of your understanding.
It gives you room to make a decision about the future.
If you close your eyes, how would you get from one side of the room to the other?

You model it.

You model it, and you work by that model.
This is the difficulty in the climate change debate at the moment... that people don't believe the models.
All they see are the lines on the graphs, and they see this things as a model - a black box - they don't actually appreciate that the black box - the computer that's doing all the number crunching, is exactly the same as what they've done to cross the room.




-42.9769, 147.3083 Art and Scientific Method
129 New Species Andrea Juan, 2011

"Taking art to Antarctica reminds us of its frozen seas, its species, and its icebergs, and how important they are for the terrestrial ecosystem. The last two decades were probably the warmest in the last five centuries. The biggest changes are related to the disintegration of the A and B sectors of the Larsen Ice Shelf. When these ice shelves receded, an extraordinary treasure of ten million specimens was revealed beneath the Weddell Sea, on the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula."

Andrea Juan, Visual artist, Professor of Visual Arts,
National University of Tres de Febrero
Head of Cultural Projects,
National Antarctic Bureau of Argentine Ministry

-64.250094, -56.642005 Art and Scientific Method
128 Oceanic Sydney Caterina Mocciola, Lawrence Wallen, Lisa Roberts, Asley Macqueen, Cariona Davies, Benn DeMole, Shane Dunn. 2012


"Dancers and musicians explore this new world. Observers are immersed in a curious inversion of terrestrial and marine environments. Performers awaken from a technological dream, improvising within scientific data projected onto plankton mesh. They recognise themselves in the rhythms of the sea and find within themselves the primal forms of an ancient choreography. Circling, spiralling and crossing forms combine in dance, music and animation to create a new world where humans reconnect to ancestral beings.

Plankton mesh suspended in the Customs House foyer invites you to feel part of the performance. Immerse yourself in Living Data: algae and other plankton, krill, seals and birds. Find the giant algae, Neptune's necklace, that dances in the rock pools along Sydney's beaches. And where are the humans?"

Caterina Mocciola. Program note, 2012

-33.8611, 151.2126 Art
127 Old Brain Phil Dadson, Lisa Roberts, 2008


Phil Dadson, 2008, at Art in Antarctica conference, Buenos Aires, in the Old Brain animation:

Len Lye had this concept of the Old Brain, and believed that when ...we're doodling, that your subconscious, or this Old Brain came into play, and produced images related to genetic information from your very primitive beginnings. That's why I kind of thought of some of your imagery you created from your Antarctic research, some of the microscopic forms are very similar to some of the forms he came up with. 

Lisa Roberts, 2010, Antarctic Animation. PhD thesis, University of New South Wales

Seeing Sydney Nolan's designs for the ballet, Icare, at the National Gallery of Victoria, 14 December 2007, I recognised figures that appear in my drawings. Spontaneous doodlings can free the old brain to recognise things that have always been there.

Then, in 2008, while setting up our work in Buenos Aires for the 'Sur Polar' exhibition, the New Zealand sound artist Phil Dadson and I got talking. He explained Len Lye's notion of the Old Brain. Listening to his words, I drew and animated in a time line, to the rhythm of the Milankovitch cycles.

The vertical line moving across the screen marks the 'eccentric' cycle of Earth's orbit round the sun. This is the longest of three cycles that set the natural patterns of climate change, between glacial and interglacial periods. Within a time frame of 100,000 years the elliptical shape of Earth's orbit changes.

Within this cyclic pattern,
two other cycles occur:
the tilting of the Earth's axis
and a wobbling, like a top, around that axis.

Together these three motions
set our distance from the sun over time.
Within these cycles
life forms grow, change and die.

Human actions, we believe,
have upset the natural pattern,
tipping the balance
towards an untimely Greenhouse World.


-34.6037, -58.3816 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
126 Water energy Mircaller Havier, Lisa Roberts, Paul Fletcher

"Dance therapist Mircalla Havier
explains feelings that come up for her
when she thinks about Antarctica,
and I video record and trace her movements:

'Flowing energy
big, big, big ...
think of crashing waves,
big thundering
crashing energy,
that's the movement.

The water element
[in marshall arts]
is the house of emotions,
the physical level
of the emotional aspect.

You can ride these waves'."

Lisa Roberts, Sydney 2020

-63, 77.4 Art
125 Oceanic Living Data: Sex in the sea Sue Andreson, Lisa Roberts, Steve Nichol, Caterina Mocciola et al. 2012

Oceanic Living Data is a visualisation that evolves, like a scientific model, from conversations between scientists, but combined with subjective responses to the data and the stories that these tell. This iteration was presented at the 35th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Hobart, 11th June 2012 - 20th June 2012, and in the Living Data Atrium at the University of Technology Sydney, as part of the 2013 Ultimo Science Festival.

The title of this iteration, Sex in the Sea, comes from William Gladstone, Head of School of Life Science at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), who regularly presents a lecture of that name. Poetic languages of drawing, dance and music are combined with words that narrate the story that is evolving  from the scientific data. Together the art and data appeal to us for care, understand and conserve breeding grounds of Antarctic krill that are central to the marine food web, and to reflect on our dependence on a healthy Southern Ocean.

-42.8821, 147.3272 Art and Scientific Method
124 Seeding Treaty: Inclusion and cooperation Maddison Gibbs, Lisa Roberts, Paul Fletcher, students of the Victorian College of the Arts. 2019

"In this International year of Indigenous languages,
and the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty
languages of art and science come together with a message:

The spirit of inclusion and cooperation that sustained Aboriginal Australia
for tens of thousands of years
is the same spirit that drives the Antarctic Treaty,
and all treaties (agreements) people make to live well together."

Lisa Roberts with Maddison Gibbs

A trio of animations reflects the spirit that sustained Aboriginal Australia
for tens of thousands of years, and that's at the heart of the Antarctic Treaty System.

Part 1: SEEDING TREATY. Voice: Lisa Roberts. Animation: Lisa Roberts
Part 2: BARKINDJI STORY. Voice: Maddison Gibs. Animation: Maddison Gibbs and Lisa Roberts
Part 3: ANIMATED RESPONSES: Students from the Victorian College of the Arts

Presented at Antarctic Connections at the End of the World Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. 3-5 April

-54.55, -67.44 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
123 Southern Ocean Wrack Marion Manifold


"...The sea is in my blood. I always feel at home with the sea and its salt laden atmosphere - as a swimmer, surfer, scuba diver, snorkeler, beach wanderer, and as such I am an environmental advocate for the preservation of coastal landscapes and its flora and fauna.

The Port Campbell coastal interface with the Great Southern Ocean has been central to my life since 1972 and engages in my art practice in the Drowning series of linocuts which investigate ancestral memories, female identity and body imaging - the displacement and migratory voyage to Australia by ancestors, and the small precious decorative items which accompanied them epitomising these women's hopes, fears, and fates.

Southern Ocean Wrack explores both past and current social and environmental patterns. Fragments of a blue and white pattern plate and a doll's leg and arm from the 1878 Loch Ard shipwreck is a reminder of the disasters that can accompany migration. While a tangle of contemporary plastic discarded ropes, buoys and fishing gear, and storm tossed sea weeds and fish refers to the current environmental tragedy."

Marian Manifold, Port Campbell, Victoria, 2020

-38.61, 142.996 Art
122 Beauty that was: Menindee Fish Kill Lisa Roberts in conversation with Rene Delmas, Jason Benedek, Eric Avery, Bonita Ely, Melissa Williams-Brown, Sandy Edwards, Cat Kutay, Michaael Lynch, Lisa Roberts, Maddison Gibbs, Janet Hughes, Sean Walsh

"On Jan 31 2019 Audrey Rose Burden joins me with scientists and other artists in the University of Technology Data Arena. Audrey dances in response to art work and music that each hold different stories of a river. Art work shows a woman lying in a river surrounded by dead fish - Menindee Fish Kill - by Melissa Williams-Brown in collaboration with Bonita Ely. Music is an improvisation by Eric Avery, a Ngiyampaa, Yuin, Bandjalang and Gumbangirr man, and I recognise in his voice the will for a flowing healthy river."

Lisa Roberts, University of Technology Sydney, 2019

-32.398, 142.41 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
121 Black man, white man Marilyn Torrens 2020

Marilyn Torrens  takes this photo in September 2019 during the terrible bushfires around Tabulam and Drake in northern NSW. She sends me the photo and asks: "Look closely at it. I can see a real old aboriginal and in the side of him I can see an old white man. Let me know if you can."

I say, "I can! I see ancestor spirits in the smoke. I see them both looking up into the sky"

The black and white faces make me think of Victor Steffensen who wrote, after sharing stories with with Indigenous people in Finland: "...Today the disconnected people come in all colours, from black, white, brindle and brown. There was a deepening understanding that I was starting to become aware of, and it seemed to be a connection that underpins us all." (Fire Country: How Indigenous fire management could help save Australia. 2020. p.118)

-29, 152 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge
120 Ancestral spirits Shirin Shakhesi

"This animation is an expression of Indigenous people and their land through Dreamtine or Dreaming which represents the time when the Ancestral Spirits progressed over the land and created life and important physical geographical formations and sites. The Dreaming explains the origin of the universe and workings of nature, animals and humanity which is associate to the most important topic these days according to the climate crisis. Having a right connection with nature is the most beneficial behaviour for the wellbeing of both humans and the natural world."
Shirin Shakhesi, Melbourne, 2020

In 2019 Shirin was a student of Animation at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. The field trip on Yorta Yorta country was conducted by the university's Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, led by Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung artist and educator Tiriki Onus.

-36, 144.95 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Art
119 Ocean health James O'Brien (story), Lisa Roberts (animation), Maddison Gibbs (krill microscopy) 2019


"... You always hear that krill are keystone species, but THAT is a keystone environment - the Southern Ocean. It is SO influential and SO productive, that to lose it, to have it damaged by something as short-sighted as monetary gain, I think that would be devastating... " 
James O'Brian University of Technology Sydney, 2019

-34, 151 Art and Scientific Method
118 Gumbayngirr story Chels Marshall, Lisa Roberts, Jason Benedek et al.


This is one of many Dreaming stories around Australia that tell of sea level rise - stories passed down over many many generations, through cultural arts of  many forms.

"Father gave us the land and the dreamtime.
Evil be gone through the wind.
Goodness come back through the wind...

Wind - goreen
The ocean - gargul

The ocean was seen as human.
It could be talked to, angered and appeased.
The gaargul is the totem of all Gumbaygnirr people.

One, when the sea had flooded all the land,
one man, gurigan, drove a bargain with the ocean.
He, the ocean, would never again creep up and cover all the land.
However, in return, the ocean could claim one human life a day.

Yal yal - the waves

Gumbaygnirr women used to do their ceremony in the ocean
The yal yal - waves - used to come up and wash upon them.
The women used to pay homage to our totem, the gaargal.
In return, the gaargal used to claim one life a day."

Gumbaygnirr Voice:
Michael Jarrett



-30, 153 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
117 Antarctic insights Lisa Roberts, Paul Fletcher


PPM” stands for “parts per million,” which is a way of measuring the ratio of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the other molecules in the atmosphere. Countless scientists, climate experts, and governments officials agree that 350 ppm is the “safe” level of carbon dioxide.

-68, 78 Scientific method
116 Communication by pheromones So Kawaguchi et al 2010



Robyn Williams from ABC Radio introduces krill to NAIDOC Week: "...Well, it's now the end of NAIDOC week, when Australians celebrate Aboriginal culture. So it's entirely appropriate that our speaker, Dr. Lisa Roberts, shares a personal history of Indigenous traditions - looking at the land and at nature."

Lisa Roberts: "... I work with scientists as an artist, to expand and connect our understandings, of how living things (including humans) respond to climate change. Just recently someone found me on the Internet, and confirmed a family rumour of an Indigenous Australian ancestor on my mother's side. For me, this chance connection makes sense of what I do, and what I value..."

-65, 89 Art and Scientific Method
115 Aboriginal Memories of Inundation of the Australian Coast Patrick D. Nunn & Nicholas J. Reid


The image above represents ocean waves. It was created by Lisa Roberts in conversation with Gumbayngirr scientist Chels Marshall and appears in Gumbaygnirr story, the animation they co-created that tells about the ocean 'creeping up' all over Gumbayngirr land (around Nambucca Heads).

Stories belonging to Australian Aboriginal groups tell of a time when the former coastline of mainland Australia was inundated by rising sea level. Stories are presented from 21 locations from every part of this coastline. In most instances it is plausible to assume that these stories refer to events that occurred more than about 7000 years ago, the approximate time at which the sea level reached its present level around Australia. They therefore provide empirical corroboration of postglacial sea-level rise. For each of the 21 locations, the minimum water depth (below the present sea level) needed for the details of the particular group of local-area stories to be true is calculated. This is then compared with the sea-level envelope for Australia (Lewis et al., Quaternary Science Reviews 74, 2013), and maximum and minimum ages for the most recent time that these details could have been observed are calculated. This method of dating Aboriginal stories shows that they appear to have endured since 7250–13 070 cal years BP (5300–11 120 BC). The implications of this extraordinary longevity of oral traditions are discussed, including those aspects of Aboriginal culture that ensured effective transgenerational communication and the possibility that traditions of comparable antiquity may exist in similar cultures.

-11.7, 130 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Science
114 Sea level rise 1920-2000 John Church, Lisa Roberts, 2010

"The most important reason for sea level rise in the 20th century, and we expect to be in the 21st century, is oceans thermal expansion. As the ocean warms the water expands, sea level rises. The second largest contribution is from the melting of glaciers and ice caps, so these are glaciers in places like Alaska, the Himalayas, New Zealand, Switzerland, etc., and they've been melting, and melting an increasing rate over the past 50 years. And the third contribution, and potentially the largest contribution on the longer timeframe, but we don't think there's been a large contribution in the last century, are the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. Greenland contains enough water to raise sea levels by about seven metres, and Antarctica over 60 metres." John Church, 2007

-69.45, 71 Scientific method
113 Spiral into time Eveline Kolijn


"...Where I live, the sea is in Deep Time. An ancient memory, set in stone, high in the mountains... The fossil oil, which has taken tens of millions of years to form, is now being consumed by humans in a few hundreds of years. By consuming the oil rapidly, we release the massive amount of carbon, which was sequestered by Devonian marine-creatures, back into the atmosphere. This affects our climate. "
Eveline Kolijn, 2020

55, -115 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
112 Antarctic flows Lisa Roberts, Eric Avery


"Music is an improvisation by Eric Avery, a Ngiyampaa, Yuin, Bandjalang and Gumbangirr man, and I recognise in his voice the will for a flowing healthy river." Lisa Roberts, 2019

-31, 145 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
111 Turning Cycle Lisa Roberts, Lorraine Beaulieu, Philippe Boisonnet, Rupert Summerson


“Philippe Boisonnet writes to from his home in Montreal, Canada, about his experience of Antarctica: 'En perdre le nord (To Loose One’s North Star) is a metaphorical representation of the way in which the traditional image of the “Earth-Mother” is becoming an “Earth-Child” in our collective conscience.'  In 2008 I meet Philippe and his wife Lorraine Beaulieu in Buenos Aires, where we all contributed to the Festival and Exhibition, Sur Polar: Arte en Antartida, curated by Andrea Juan. Through our art works and presentations we shared stories about our times in Antarctica. Lorraine's images of Antarctica as a woman (herself) inspired the animation, Turning Cycle. I find the music to complete the animation another time this year, as scientist Rupert Summerson plays the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) in an empty hall in Christchurch. We had just heard readings of Antarctic poetry, including Bill Manhire's Erebus Voices. Rupert improvised his response to seeing a work by artist Connie Samarus, in which an Antarctic seal emerges and reemerges through a hole in sea ice, coming up for breath".
Lisa Roberts, Sydney 2020

45.5017, -73.5673 Art
110 Nothingness Lisa Roberts, Paul Fletcher


"A glaciologist describes his experience of Antarctica. It is many years since he worked there and we meet in his house in Wahgunyah, Victoria. His back straightens. His eyes look skywards and his arms draw a horizontal line across his body. Together these lines draw a cross as he describes the 'nothingness' of Antarctica."
Lisa Roberts 2010

-36.0126, 146.4001 Art
109 Broulee Beach Guindri (Paul Davis) -35.85, 150.17 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Art
107 Talara’tingi – How the Flannel Flower came to be Frances Bodkin, Gawian Bodkin Andrews


A girl speaks out to older people who seem to have forgotten how to care for country. In the story the Flannel Flower is the first to appear after ice, after rituals have been done that are necessary to care for plants and animals. This story could relate some ancient knowledge of glacial cycles.

Two messages in this story are; firstly to obey the laws of nature and secondly, that there are times when we must listen to the voices of the young.

-34.07, 150.76 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge
106 Ocean dance (v05) Paul Fletcher / Lisa Roberts / Andrew Constable


“True to an original black and white Ocean Dance, I add what I imagine as the almost fractal nature of different circulation patterns and speeds at different depths, locations and scales, throughout the ocean we share.”
Paul Fletcher, 2020


-67, 68 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
105 Bunurong Jenny Fraser

For Migunberri artist Jenny Fraser, "Curating [is] an act of sovereignty and emancipation" :

"[A]rt projects as custodial responsibility... many mainstream new media arts exhibitions... have failed to include first-person Aboriginal perspectives, and many Aboriginal art exhibitions have not included new media artworks. It is such gaps and absences that require ongoing need for healing and Decolonisation as a reaction to constantly being written out of contemporary Australia art history."
Jenny Fraser, 2016. PhD thesis, 'Get Creative: the art of healing and decolonising':

-38.69, 145.66 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
104 Algae give life to all. Katherina Petrou et al.


Acidification of the oceans means the silica-armour of many algae will thin and this change will impact their survival in the surface waters, where they are less protected from hungry grazers.


-60, 150 Scientific method
103 Connectivity Andrew Davidson, Ruth Eriksen, Lisa Roberts, Stephen Taberner / 2015-2020


"...[R]eally the importance of these organisms... they're beautiful in their own right... their primary importance is in fact... in the way in which they participate... in all the processes... that actually set... our planetary chemistry... and... keep our ecology running... and all those sorts of things."
Andrew Davidson, Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), 2015

"....I record this Antarctic scientist explaining how phytoplankton (algae) participate in setting our planet chemistry. I trace and animate his gestures. I combine his gestures with Scanning Electron Microscopy by scientist Ruth Eriksen  (CSIRO/AAD), then set the animation to a song improvised by Spooky Man Stephen Taberner as he plays double bass in our front yard. As the song speaks of love and money and I imagine the dance of people around the world being part of the dance of phytoplankton."
Lisa Roberts, University of Technology Sydney, 2020

-60, 105 Art and Scientific Method
102 Spirits make noise Brian Miller, Lisa Roberts, Maddison Gibbs / 2020 / Dreamtime


Humpback whale and Antarctic krill
Humpback whale with Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba)

Ways of thinking as artists and as scientists combine to animate the humpback whale as it sings and travels its cyclic path through the Southern Ocean each year, between Australia and Antarctica:

Drawing: Maddison Gibbs
Whale sonograph: Brian Miller
(Australian Antarctic Division)
Animation: Lisa Roberts

-50, 35 Indigenous Cultural Knowledge, Art and Scientific Method
101 krill sex So Kawaguchi et al. 2010


Art and science combine in the animation, Krill sex.

In 2010 the entire mating dance of Euphausia superba (Antarctic krill) is observed for the first time on the sea floor around Antarctica. Krill mating was not expected to occur at ocean depth. This finding is expressed through art and scientific data, allowing scientists to inspire, as well as inform policy makers to recommend protection of this region.

Key message: There are certain places where people must not intrude, in order to sustain life within natural limits.

-65.87, 88 Art and Scientific Method