08 March 2013

Artist delves into RMIT archaeology

Sarah Edwards with Dean Smith

Successful mentorship recipient Sarah Edwards with Dean Smith, taxidermist at the Melbourne Museum.

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First Site Gallery is providing students with the money and opportunity to work with their favourite mentors.

For many student visual artists and designers at RMIT University, the opportunity to exhibit work in a real live gallery setting is the ultimate achievement of their studies.

So opportunities such as the First Site Gallery Mentorship, provided by RMIT Link Arts & Culture however, are providing students with a very rare opportunity take this idea to a whole new level.

The yearly recipient of the Arts Mentorship is provided with over $5000 towards their project, the opportunity to work with mentors of their choice, and full access to RMIT’s First Site Gallery, one of Melbourne’s most central and vibrant gallery spaces.

The recipient of the 2013 First Site Gallery Mentorship was awarded to Sarah Edwards who is currently completing her Doctorate in Fine Art at the School of Art at RMIT. The result is Echo Chamber, a developed response to the archaeology of RMIT and the First Site Gallery.

The exhibition looks at the way the landscape upon the school is built, and also the activities that RMIT has engaged with in the past; from millinery and cooking to its historical origins during World War 2.

After approaching her chosen mentors, she has taken the unique step of combining her mentor choices and has three mentors to collaborate with on her project.

Her selected mentors include taxidermist Dean Smith, sound engineer Russell Goldsmith, and landscape architect Heather Graham. Each mentor will bring his or her expertise to the project, which will transform the space at First Site Gallery over the course of the month.

Taxidermist Dean Smith brings a unique and lesser known medium to the project, after many years working at the Melbourne Museum. Taught by a fellow colleague who had been practicing it for over 40 years, he has now become an expert in this much specialised field. As part of the exhibition, Edwards and Smith will run a free taxidermy workshop to demonstrate the fundamentals of this unique art.

With a background in museology and curatorship, PHD candidate Edwards is interested in looking at the natural history museum as a contemporary art medium in Echo Chamber.

“The landscape work allows me to bring the outside into the space, while working with sound allowed me to creative a space sonically rather than visually”

First Site Gallery curator Simon Pericich is proud of what the Mentorship opportunity presents.

“The Arts Mentorship is important because there are limited opportunities within RMIT for students to access awards that recognise excellence in the arts.

“I’m really excited to see what Sarah will produce.”

Echo Chamber is on at First Site Gallery at 344 Swanston St, Melbourne until Friday 15 March.

Two free taxidermy workshops are being run on 15 March at 11am and 2pm.

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