Informed by science: Beth Croce & Sam Leach

Join artists Beth Croce and Sam Leach for this talk about the overlap of science and art in their works featured in My Monster: The Human Animal Hybrid at RMIT Gallery (29 June – 18 August).

The exhibition explores our enduring fascination and revulsion with the merging of the human and animal, and coincides with the 200th anniversary year of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Shelley’s seminal monster novel was written drawing upon the scientific advancements of its age, including early theories of evolutionary development in the 1790s and galvanism.

In her 1831 Preface to the novel, Shelley mentions ‘galvanism’ as an influence upon her story, and medical illustrations showing Galvani’s experiments animating dead animals with electrical currents have long since influenced artists, writers and film makers.

Beth Croce is a Johns Hopkins (USA) trained, certified medical artist whose two decades as a biomedical illustrator have inspired the Bioperspective line of jewellery, which is anatomically accurate and scientifically informed. Some artistic license is extended to her illustrated works created for exhibitions, including her commissioned work for My Monster.

“My job as a medical illustrator is to translate work pictorially, so that it can be understood efficiently and accurately by another professional. Though my artistic practice is often directly informed and inspired by my illustration work, its aim is quite different, looking to generate questions rather than answer them, to provoke rather than to explain, and to break down barriers between the medical world and the wider community.”

Sam Leach’s works are informed by art history, science, and philosophy. He combines the poles of the metaphorical and the empirical, the analogous and the objective, in an ongoing investigation of the relationship between humans and animals.

“I’m mainly inspired by science and science fiction. Currently I’m very interested in the work of Dr Mandyam Srinivasan, a neuroscientist specializing in animal cognition, especially bees and budgerigars. His research tests how these animals visually navigate their environment and he applies his findings to the design of semi-autonomous biomimetic robots. I find his approach to understanding these non-human umwelts endlessly fascinating, and the technological applications resonate with my love of science fiction.” (Arts Review, 2017)

In 2010, Leach’s portrait of musical comedian Tim Minchin won the Archibald Prize, one of Australia’s most noteworthy art prizes, and in the same year, he also won the Wynne Prize for his landscape ‘Proposal for landscaped cosmos’, becoming only the third artist after William Dobell and Brett Whiteley to win the Archibald portrait prize and the Wynne landscape prize in the same year.



Exhibition29 Jun – 18 Aug 2018

My Monster: The Human Animal Hybrid

My Monster: The Human Animal Hybrid explores our enduring fascination with the merging of the human and animal, and coincides with the…