Art and science at IMB

'Gold Rush' by Darren Brown
'Gold Rush' by Darren Brown

IMB actively explores the intersection of art and science to communicate complex concepts and create innovative solutions

IMB supports a robust program of interdisciplinary projects encompassing artist residencies, workshops, and new commisions. Through a collaborative approach we aim to discover, and celebrate new perspectives that push the frontiers of art and science. 

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The history of art at IMB

There has been a culture of celebrating art within the IMB for almost as long as the Institute has existed. When IMB was first founded in the year 2000, one of its very early community engagement initiatives was to run a national art and science competition.

In the years since then, the Institute also hosted an artist in residence, the late Joannah Underhill, who produced a stunning series of artworks that were inspired by studying cells from her own body under a microscope at IMB.

We still honour Jo’s memory today, through her art, which is printed on the lanyards that IMB researchers wear every day, and the presentation of ‘The Jo Underhill IMB Art Award’. This annual art competition is held especially for the scientists working within the IMB. It’s an opportunity for our staff and students to creatively share the stories of their own scientific research.

And, importantly, it gives them a chance to challenge their own scientific thinking … to explore their innate creativity … and to express it in new ways.

The link between art and science is deliberately nurtured at IMB as creativity is a vital part of the scientific process.

Professor Ian Henderson, IMB Executive Director

Scientists are artists

They use microscopes over modelling clay and bacterial cultures over blank canvases but share the imagination and innate curiosity that drives their artistic peers.

IMB Executive Director Professor Ian Henderson said artists and scientists are bound by a desire to answer big questions about the human condition.

“Both asking and answering these questions requires creativity and thinking outside the boundaries of the known, of going over the edge of knowledge and current thinking to learn something more and ultimately improve people’s lives,” Professor Henderson said.

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Visiting Artist

Hiromi Tango performs by her artwork 'Dream Flower' (2023)

Hiromi Tango

World-renowned artist Hiromi Tango continues to be inspired by the work at IMB, in particular, the research being carried out at the Craik lab. Professor Craik has pioneered the technique of growing medicines in plants and the work of him and his team has inspired Hiromi.

She created Dream Flower (2023) and Nature Etude (2023) which was shown at the Brisbane Festival in September 2023. She continutes to be inspired by IMB's research and has now created 花弁 Hanabira (Gentle Petal) (2024) which will be shown at the Museum of Brisbane from 2 March - 11 August 2024.

Find out more about Hiromi

Hiromi Tango

Hiromi Tango: 花弁 Hanabira (Gentle Petal)

2 March 2024 10:00am11 August 2024 4:00pm
花弁 Hanabira (Gentle Petal) is a community-led project that will transform Adelaide Street Pavilion into a vibrant sanctuary, inspiring healing and social connection.


The Jo Underhill Art Award

Artist in Residence

Jo Underhill (1978 - 2014)

Jo Underhill

With an honors Degree in Fine Art from The Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Jo combined her artistic experience and playful approach to life through her art. 

In October 2006, Jo was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma cancer. During her battle, she teamed up with researchers here at IMB to understand the molecular changes in her body that occurred during the disease.

"I'm a very visual person, so when I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was trying to imagine what my cells would look like as they changed in response to the disease," - Jo Underhill.

Over several months, Jo studied, sketched and brought her inspirations to life creating more than twenty original artworks. Jo battled with the disease for 8 years, until sadly in 2014 Jo’s cancer took her life.

Art inspired by IMB

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