CQUni ecologist collaborates with artist to create Seagrass Seascapes exhibition

Published:18 June 2019

Margaret Worthington and CQUni Ecologist Dr Emma Jackson; and one of the sculptures at the Seagrass Seascapes art exhibition

Gladstone artist Margaret Worthington and CQUni Ecologist Dr Emma Jackson have collaborated on a unique art exhibition called Seagrass Seascapes.

A unique melding of art and science is highlighting CQUniversity's research into the Gladstone region's seagrasses.

Seagrass Seascapes is a collaboration between internationally recognised multi-discipline artist Margaret Worthington and CQUniversity seagrass specialist Dr Emma Jackson.

Supported by the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership's Citizen Science Program, the exhibition promotes Gladstone’s seagrass landscapes and gives a chance for the public to get involved in seagrass restoration research. Included in the exhibition are aluminium sculptures modelled from five subtropical seagrass species by Margaret Worthington and fabricated by Clive Rouse.

Originally commissioned by CQUniversity academics Dr Linda Pfeiffer and Helen Holden and sponsored by QGC for the 2017 World Science Festival, these will reach new audiences at Photopia Studio & Gallery.

The exhibition also features some of Margaret’s seagrass seascapes drawings and paintings, photographs by William Debois as well as live seagrass in aquariums, beautifully staged and highlighted by video projections.

Dr Jackson said the environmental connections of Margaret Worthington’s work are a perfect match to her approach as seagrass ecologist.

"An important part of conserving and restoring seagrass is overcoming apathy about these extraordinary marine flowering plants," Dr Jackson said.

"Experiencing science through art opens up new avenues for appreciating, exploring and interpreting these important habitats that provide us with important fish habitat, offset our carbon footprint, capture fine sediment that would damage our Great Barrier Reef and feed the turtles and dugong we care about.

"Through a collaboration between artist and ecologist, aluminium sculptures projected with images of the life in seagrass meadows, capture the beauty of these plants, whilst sending messages about their taxonomy, ecology and benefit to humans"

Dr Jackson said she is passionate about showing this beauty to new audiences.

"Seagrasses are a truly unique and valuable marine habitat which really suffer from not only being out of sight and out of mind, but also being labelled the poor ugly cousin to coral reefs”.

The exhibition, which is on display from 14 June- 12 July, will be officially opened at the Photopia Studio & Gallery within the Crow Street Creative arts precinct, at 8 Crow Street on Thursday 20 June at 6pm. Margaret and Dr Jackson will be in attendance.

Visitors will be able to experience Seagrass Seascapes during Crow Street events on 29th June and 12th July and during the week between 9am and 3.30pm.

Dr Emma Jackson is a seagrass ecologist at CQUniversity, with nearly 20 years of research expertise.

Her research currently focuses on future-proofing seagrass habitats through meadow creation, restoration and enhancement. Over the last four years, Emma has encouraged local community participation in seagrass restoration through public events out on the seagrass meadows and the use of game play to convey knowledge of the ecology of these plants.

Margaret Worthington is a Gladstone Region artist and former CQUniversity staff member. Her work is displayed at many CQUniversity campuses and she also works internationally. Her works often have an environmental context.

Clive Rouse is a skilled metal fabricator and has used aluminium for this project because of its relevance to the large aluminium smelter and refinery within the Gladstone Region.

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