News Archive

Orbit — The Kepler Suite

11–28 May 2016

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

An exhibition of 10 mixed media works on paper by Felicity Spear


Felicity Spear — Orbit Series 2016

When we think of the word ‘orbit’ it’s likely to bring to mind a state of motion associated with the tracking of objects across the sky;  galaxies, planets, comets and asteroids, satellites, space ships and space junk, all swirling around in space and occasionally crashing in to our planet or each other. When we think of ‘orbit’ we could also be thinking about the meteorite that crashed to Earth dramatically in Russia in 2013, or Apollo 11’s moon landing in 1969 and that classic Australian film The Dish, perhaps some of the recent larger than life space science fiction films, maybe robots exploring  and imaging the planet Mars, or if the night sky is not blurred by artificial light near you, the light trace of the International Space Station crossing the sky on a clear starry night. 

In this series of images I work with models which emphasize the value and complexity of the physical world in terms of sky situated knowledge to create a sense of, or feeling for, space, time, geometry and matter and the hidden traces and forces which are embedded in the idea of orbit.

Future Tense

9–26 July 2015

Daniel Armstrong | Lesley Duxbury | Harry Nankin | Felicity Spear

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

Felicity Spear - The Recession (detail)

Felicity Spear — The Recession (detail) 2013 Digital Print

The exhibition Future Tense draws together a group of artists who, in various ways, ask two questions. What might the inhabitants of the future see when they look back at our time? How do we envisage events yet to happen?

In one way or another, from politics to art to cosmology, it could be said that we are all trying to understand what it means to distil or construct a description of a complex yet complete Universe. But the danger in any of these activities is to imagine that we are divorced from contact with nature, of which we are a part. In the twenty first century artists who are inspired by scientific interpretations of nature are inevitably confronted with ecological concerns. Our knowledge of nature is increasingly understood through culture; the various customs and human intellectual activities in which our species, modern humans, participate. But as our population overwhelms Earth’s resources and we manipulate and modify nature for our own ends, the tensions between the human and non-human world pose new questions and require more enlightened answers.

The artists in Future Tense work with ideas and technologies associated with the emanation and manipulation of light. Light is the most obvious and fundamental medium which connects us to the universe. All living things have receptors which respond to the presence of light. It is our medium of contact with the world. Light which is essential to life, weightless, patterned, carrying information, powering and revealing a continually evolving Universe. The four exhibiting artists have previously participated in a series of exhibitions titled Sky Lab, curated by Spear. Their works focused on sky-situated knowledge and the relationship between the natural and constructed world as they are revealed through art, science and the mechanics of image capture. Future Tense extends this focus.

Dr Felicity Spear - March 2014

A number of artists involved in this project are members of RMIT’s AEGIS research network, (Art, Ecology, Globalisation and Interpretations of Science).

The Observatory

Solo Exhibition

27 November–21 December 2015

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery


Felicity Spear — Observatory 1 2013
(Oil on linen)

Working with painting as a speculative medium in a space between art and science, Spear looks for relationships between sky-situated knowledge, observational technologies and natural phenomena, which are often not accessible to the full range of the senses.

Sky Lab Project


Daniel Armstrong
Aqua Optica
Saturn #2
(mixed media)

In December 2009 the first Sky Lab exhibition was curated by Felicity Spear to coincide with the International Year of Astronomy. Artists who participated included Daniel Armstrong, Magda Cebokli, Sam Leach, Lesley Duxbury, Harry Nankin and Felicity Spear. This took place at the Stephen Mclaughlan Gallery, Melbourne.

The second Sky Lab exhibition in November 2011, titled Sky Lab: from where you stand, included the work of three Australian artists from Melbourne and Brisbane (Daniel Armstrong, Felicity Spear and Vanessa Stanley), Tarja Trygg from Aalto University, School of Art and Design, Helsinki, Finland, and a London based Nepali artist (Govinda Sah ’Azad’), all of whom presented their work at the cross disciplinary Seventh International Conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena (INSAPVII), which took place at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, Bath, UK, in October 2010, and was organized by the University of Wales.

The third Sky Lab exhibition took place at Victoria’s Latrobe Regional Gallery in October/November 2013.

Sky Lab 2013 brochure

latrobe-regional-gallery-logo-sm latrobcity-logo-sm

The Geelong Contemporary Art Prize

Felicity Spear has been shortlisted for the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize (15 September–18 November 2012).

Showcasing the best of contemporary Australian painting practice, this $30,000 acquisitive award and biennial exhibition features 45 works by leading and emerging artists.


Felicity Spear Atomic – my carbon copy (2011 Oil on linen - 240 x 30 x 10 cm)

Atomic - my carbon copy, is a flash of colour falling through space, the material evidence of atoms pushed and pulled by gravitational forces, the invisible made visible, the elemental operations of nature writ large, or simply a colour coded confection. With some cloth stretched over my index finger I draw marks in layers of wet paint, splitting spectral colours into patterns of chromatic energy. In astronomy the spectroscopic appearance of the sun and stars, like a forensic mapping process, reveals the chemical elements in their atmosphere. Each element produces a spectrum unique to itself, like a fingerprint, no matter where it is found. Science tells us that for this chromatic energy to be perceived, light waves must interact with the light sensitive cells in the retina, and nerves must deliver this information to the brain to be processed. It is at this point that art reveals colour’s intrinsic subjectivity. I shift and sift light and colour to draw attention to the carbon element, the basis of all known life. On planet Earth, as the elemental operations of nature become disrupted, the word ‘carbon’ has become politically contentious and ideologically loaded.”
Felicity Spear 2012.

Seeing Books – The Arts Libraries Society / Australia & New Zealand Conference 2012

In September 2012 Felicity Spear's artist's book An Atlas of Remote Possibilities, in the rare books collection of the State Library of Victoria, will be be discussed by Dr Anne Bennett in her paper ‘Seeing Artist's Books as Research’ at the Royal Society of Victoria.

A selection of prints from editions in this book will hang in the Royal Society during the Conference.

Canberra Festival – National Library of Australia – Star Light Star Bright

On 10 March 2012, Felicity Spear, together with Professor Brian Schmidt (Laureate Fellow at the Australian National University’s Mount Stromlo Observatory), and Michael Leunig (cartoonist, philosopher, poet and artist), presented a talk at the National Library of Australia’s event ‘Star Light, Star Bright.’ Chanel Cole and Adam Cook gave musical performances. This event coincided with Canberra’s ENLIGHTEN Festival 2012.

Presentation: Beyond Visibility (Full Text)

... A person looks at a work of art ...

Geelong Gallery — 18 September to 13 February 2011

Taking as its starting point three large, recently acquired photographs by contemporary Australian artist Anne Zahalka, this group exhibition is drawn mostly from Geelong Gallery's own collection and illustrates the currency in modern practice of the introspective but frequently witty genre of ‘art museum interior' in which visitors are seen to interact in different ways with works of art.

Zahalka's photographs,  are presented in conjunction with earlier works by Edward Heffernan, Eric Thake, Peter Tyndall, Douglas Watson and Felicity Spear.

Seventh International Conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena

INSAPVII — Bath (United Kingdom) — 24–29 October 2010

Felicity Spear presented a paper titled: Extending Vision: sky-situated knowledge and the artist’s eye.

International Year of Astronomy 2009

In 2009, the International Year of Astronomy, Spear curated Beyond visibility: light and dust, together with astronomer and pioneering astro-photographer David Malin, exhibiting at Monash Gallery of Art in Melbourne and UTS Gallery in Sydney. Gulumbu Yunupingu, one of Australia's most well know Indigenous artists, also participated. Spear’s work was also included in the exhibition Shared Sky at the National Gallery of Victoria, Ian Potter Centre.

Follow Felicity Spear