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The artist and the scientists

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27 March 2012

The Artist and the Scientists
The Artist and the Scientists

The work of a Monash PhD student who uses art to capture what he and fellow scientists are discovering will be the topic of discussion at an upcoming lecture.

Monash School of Geosciences PhD student Peter Trusler co-authored The Artist and the Scientists with founder of the Monash Science Centre, Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich, and School of Geosciences Adjunct Professor Dr Thomas Rich.

Professor Vickers-Rich will be discussing the book and Mr Trusler’s art at her upcoming lecture Using Art to Communicate Complex Science.

The book follows the years of the Rich's collaboration with Trusler which brings fossils from the last 600 million years to life. Told from the viewpoints of both scientist and artist, the reader is given a unique insight into the process of preserving and recording the evolution of prehistoric life.

“The three of us have been working together for over thirty years now, and this book is a prime example of how we collaborate,” Professor Vickers-Rich said.

Professor Vickers-Rich is a scientist who likes to minimise the amount of text she puts forward.

“An image is worth more than a thousand words, so with an image and some text, you get the best possible combination of art and science, which is the best way of communicating ideas.”

“Mr Trusler has developed his own scientifically accurate technique with his art. He does not simply draw what he sees, he puts together a broad collection of information to craft one composite,” Professor Vickers-Rich said.

“This demonstrates just how important art is in getting concepts across, and framing the concept so to have an indepth understanding of how an animal looked, lived, fed and travelled and sometimes the environment in which it lived.”

Mr Trusler is able to craft images that combine fragments and information from various disciplines, including images, fossils, in-field and in-museum research.

“Most scientific art could be replaced by a photograph, but Peter’s simply cannot. He draws in so much more depth than the average scientific artist,” Professor Vickers-Rich said.

Professor Vickers-Rich’s talk is the first of the 2012 Monash Science Centre ‘Science Shaping Society’ lecture series.

Using Art to Communicate Complex Science will be held from 7-8pm on 28 March in the Monash Science Centre, Building 74, at Monash University’s Clayton campus.