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OktoLab curious about the octopus

OktoLab19 has brought together artists, writers and scientists from Tasmania and the world to investigate an extraordinary mollusc – the octopus.

The international art collaboration is on display at the University of Tasmania's Plimsoll Gallery, School of Creative Arts and Media, 37 Hunter Street, Hobart.

"Across centuries and cultures, people have been fascinated by the octopus – an alien-like, blue-blooded mollusc which has developed the problem-solving intellect normally associated with mammals and birds," the co-curator and Senior Lecturer, Painting, Dr Yvette Watt, said.

"In Hollywood movies, we've seen octopuses as monsters from the deep that will drag you under. Stories of a giant octopus dragging a ship to the grave are still told in Zeehan, Western Tasmania. Then there was Paul the Octopus, raised in an aquarium and famous for predicting the winners of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"All of the artists – international and local – have thought through the consciousness of the octopus into visual art and writing."

mOwson&M0wson, of Melbourne, have taken octopus motherhood as the subject of their work, responding to the poignant beauty of the mother octopus tending to her eggs, without eating, only to die not long after her eggs hatch.

Inspired by the octopus' decentralised brain, Pony Express imagined possibilities and limits of nine brains working in non-hierarchical concert together. Co-founder of Pony Express is University of Tasmania PhD student Loren Kronemyer.

Marine biologist Professor Jayson Semmens of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) has loaned his office cephalopod collection to the exhibition.

The exhibition is co-curated by the University of Tasmania's Dr Watt and Dr Toby Juliff, and Dr Andre Krebber and Maike Riedinger of the University of Kassel in Germany. OktoLab19 is being shown in Tasmania for the first time with support from the Australian Government Regional Arts Fund and the Australia Council for the Arts.

Accompanying OktoLab19 is The 9th Arm student exhibition at Entrepôt Gallery, (opposite Entrepôt Art Products), curated by alumna Courtney Simpson and student Amelia Digney (Mimi). It showcases visual responses to the octopus theme by 16 University of Tasmania Creative Arts students.

A symposium featuring talks from artists and scientists will be held at the University of Tasmania Centre for the Arts on Saturday, 11 January, 10 am-4.30 pm. Tours for school students will be on offer between 16-20 December and a children's holiday program is also available.

OktoLab19 is open Wednesdays to Sundays 12–5 pm until Saturday 25 January 2020. Plimsoll Gallery is closed between 23 December 2019 to 1 January 2020. The 9th Arm exhibition is visible through the large windows of Entrepôt Gallery.

More information on the exhibitions and events is available at:

Pictured: mOwson&M0wson - feeler (2019).

Published on: 16 Dec 2019 10:20am