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Concept Radical Voting and Exhibition

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by Geraldine Massey (subscribe)
I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
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What do you get when you mix artistic enthusiasm and interpretation with complex scientific concepts? Welcome to Concept Radical where art collides with science in a unique art competition and exhibition, with entertaining, interesting and yes, sometimes radical results.

The Concept
This is no hippy happening though. The ARC Centre for Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology (now there's a heavy handle), has created this art competition to seek artists' impressions of those pesky but potent molecules, free radicals. In the process they aim to help make the science of free radicals more accessible to the man and woman in the street. It's an original and exciting approach that has drawn artworks from artists around the country, and now you can help decide the winner of the People's Choice Award.

Artery in Danger - Antioxidants to the Rescue by Judy Nguyen, with kind permission of the artist.

The Competition
The very innovative Concept Radical program offered workshops exploring the science of free radicals to school art students, and they have been some of the most enthusiastic contributors to the competition. Submissions have also been received from established artists and tertiary art, photography and design students throughout Australia. Entries to the competition closed on 2 September. They span the artistic gamut from photography and digital art, through to painting, installations and drawing. You can really help make an artist's day with the People's Choice Award offering $500 to the winner. Voting is done online here and closes on Wednesday 26 October 2011. All voters need to register to ensure that the voting process is fair.

Senescence by Alana Catley - with kind permission of the artist.

Apart from the People's Choice Award, other prizes will be awarded by a panel of judges from the worlds of art and science. A special Director's Choice Award of $1000 will be awarded by Professor Carl Schiesser, Director of The ARC Centre for Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology.

The Science
Artists have given free rein to their imaginations in exploring the paradox of free radicals. Our bodies need them for communication between our organs and tissues, and to combat bacteria invaders. They are also found in pharmaceuticals and plastics. Even oxygen, necessary for our survival, is a free radical, the very thing which causes ageing and decay. Free radicals can also damage DNA and proteins in the body, but antioxidants present in some foods help to fight their effects.

Free Radicals: Ground Zero by Stefanie Alexander - with kind permission of the artist

The Exhibition
You can help to fight the effects of boredom by going along to the free exhibition of the finalists' works. All the works may not be to your taste but you might learn something along the way. The colourful and imaginative interpretations will be on display in the form of digital print images and videos at Melbourne University's George Paton Gallery (2nd Floor, Union Building) from Wednesday 2 November to Wednesday 9 November. Gallery hours are 11am to 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Fe304 by Ebony Watson - with kind permission of the artist

It's also worth visiting the Concept Radical website, not just for the artworks, but for their unique take on understanding free radicals through poetry by literary luminaries like Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I think nineteenth century American poet Emily Dickinson puts it best in "Crumbling is not an instant's Act":

Crumbling is not an instant's Act
A fundamental pause
Dilapidation's processes
Are organized Decays.

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Why? Because we all like to be a little radical.
When: Voting until 26 October. Exhibition 2 to 9 November.
Where: Exhibition - George Paton Gallery, University of Melbourne.
Cost: Free
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