Antarctic Futures

close up photo of ice melting on moss

What will Antarctica be like in 50 years?

Antarctic Futures is an inspiring exhibition, seminar series and set of children’s workshops focusing on engaging the community in Antarctic science and the future of the Antarctic continent.

As part of 2022 National Science Week, and in collaboration with the University of Wollongong Early Start and Global Challenges Programs, Antarctic Futures will engage with people of all ages to explore and display a diverse array of observations, knowledge, and perceptions of this frozen continent.

Through artworks, photographs, videos, hands-on workshops and storytelling, this event will initiate conversations with the public and provide a platform for children to share their ideas on the future of Antarctica. 

The organisers, artists, scientists, and speakers involved in Antarctic Futures have all visited Antarctica as part of their research or artist in residency programs and feel a duty to share their experiences with others. One of the organisers, Georgia Watson, travelled to Casey Station in East Antarctica for the first time this year. 

“I feel truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Antarctica. I was at Casey Station for three weeks in February collecting moss samples which can inform us about how their environment is responding to environmental stresses brought on by ozone depletion and climate change. Since coming home, I’ve had so many brilliant conversations with friends, family, even strangers, who want to learn more about my trip, our research and what the future holds for Antarctica. ”

“My hope is that this exhibition will facilitate so many more conversations about the value of nature, conservation, responsibility and how we all have the power to change the future. People care, and are interested in, and excited about, Antarctica, which only helps to reinvigorate me and fuel my passion for the research and outreach I get to do as a scientist.” 

Dr Brogan Bunt, honorary professor at the University of Wollongong, is the curatorial force behind Antarctic Futures, weaving together the unique experiences of scientists, artists, and the audience to tell a cohesive and living story, which will shift and evolve around the idea of imagining something new.  

Dr Melinda Waterman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wollongong, has collaborated with Brogan on this project from its inception. Through the exhibition, seminars and children’s workshops, she hopes to make Antarctica and her research on Antarctic mosses more accessible to the public. Her research involves investigating how mosses can live in extreme environments and what they can tell us about climates in Antarctica.

As part of the exhibition, Melinda has crafted an enlarged moss shoot to communicate the wonder and significance of Antarctic mosses. This sculpture will be used to capture what visitors see as the past, present and future of Antarctica.

Twelve artists and scientists have contributed works to the exhibition. The exhibition is an eclectic mix of Theme Polar Arts program work by local Illawarra artists Liz Jeneid, Rob Howe, Bettina Kaiser, Trudi Voorwinden and Ashley Frost, as well as work by artists Bunt, Janet Laurence and Mary Rosengren, and scientists in the UOW Antarctic moss research team.

The Antarctic Futures exhibition is launching Monday 15 August for National Science Week, and will run until 19 October 2022.

In a similar fashion, the Antarctic Futures seminar series incorporates both scientific and humanities-based critical perspectives. They will run from 24 August to 12 October. More information about the seminar series.

Through the workshops hosted with Early Start, children will be able to contribute art to the exhibition, empowering our next generation of learners and leaders to use their creativity and unique perspectives to reimagine what Antarctica might look like in the future, based on current problems and out-of-the-box solutions. The workshops involve creative making activities, devoting a fortnight to each of the following themes:

  • What is Antarctica?
  • Getting to Antarctica: what does the trip actually involve?  What is living there like?
  • Antarctic life: explores issues of climate change and the instability of Antarctic environmental systems.
  • Antarctic Futures: creative efforts to imagine Antarctic futures.

Antarctic Futures
Date: Monday 15 Aug – Wednesday 19 Oct
Time: 10am to 4pm
Location: UOW Gallery, Jillian Broadbent Building (29), Northfields Avenue, Wollongong NSW

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government as part of National Science Week.