Art Meets Industry at Scienceworks

by Vera Gin
Publish date
23 December 2016
Comments (1)

Art Meets Industry at Scienceworks

In November this year, Scienceworks participated in the inaugural Art & Industry Festival. In partnership with Hobsons Bay City Council and Hubcap Productions, the festival celebrates the rich and evolving industrial and artistic landscape and history of Melbourne’s West.

As part of the festival, Scienceworks hosted Tools of the Trade, an art installation by Victorian artist Jason Waterhouse. Jason’s practice involves transforming vintage and modern hand and power tools into surrealist sculptural pieces, evoking a sense of visual play and thoughtful site-specific responses.

Jason Waterhouse's Amoebic Ozito Jason Waterhouse's Amoebic Ozito
Image: Pia Johnson
  Tools of the Trade Tools of the Trade
Image: Pia Jognson

Installed within our limited-access collection store at Scienceworks (the first time an exhibition has taken place in this space), Jason’s sculptures resonated with the heritage objects housed in the store and the industrial heritage of the Scienceworks site. The work counterpoints industrial hand tools and the hand of the artist to create a poignant reflection of changing concepts of labour.

Tools of the Trade exhibition Tools of the Trade exhibition
Image: Rodney Start
  Tools of the Trade exhibition Tools of the Trade exhibition
Image: Rodney Start

"This first partnership with the Art & Industry Festival demonstrates that our stores can be dynamic spaces open to interpretation and creative uses while fulfilling their essential role of safeguarding Museums Victoria collections. Working with Jason created a great opportunity for us to explore ways in which collection objects in the store could be experienced in context alongside his contemporary art practice." said Trish Stokes, Manager History and Technology Collection.

Jason’s artwork with some of Museums Victoria’s heritage industrial and manufacturing hand tools. Jason’s artwork with some of Museums Victoria’s heritage industrial and manufacturing hand tools.
Image: Rodney Start
  Heritage Collection store Installation of Jason’s work in progress.
Image: Vera Gin

An artist talk and special tours were held daily, taking visitors behind the scenes to see Jason’s work as well as our own ‘extreme tools’ including saw and needle displays designed for The Great Exhibition at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, the super-tall haystack ladder, agricultural sales models used by touring salespeople to farming areas, and industrial safety signs from local manufacturers and building sites.

Nick Crotty, Collection Store manager, who worked with Jason to install the art pieces amongst the museum objects said "Jason was a wonderful artist to work with. He got a real buzz out of displaying his artwork amongst the historical objects of the collection and loved the industrial feel of the store. His artworks worked really well displayed next to our hand tool collection."

Engineering curator Matilda Vaughan and Collection Manager Nick Crotty installing objects. Engineering curator Matilda Vaughan and Collection Manager Nick Crotty installing objects.
Image: Rodney Start
  Artist Jason Waterhouse installing objects. Artist Jason Waterhouse installing objects.
Image: Rodney Start

Also part of the festival, the Spotswood Pumping Station was illuminated each evening by artist Phil Lethlean within the Western Lights program. This 120 year old heritage-listed feat of Melbourne’s engineering past brought to life of an evening, highlighting the Late French Empire architecture of this significant industrial building which housed Melbourne’s first centralised sewerage system.

Spotswood Pumping Station Illuminated Spotswood Pumping Station Illuminated
Image: Art & Industry Festival
  Westgate Bridge Illuminated Westgate Bridge Illuminated
Image: Art & Industry Festival

The Pumping Station kept luminous company with other well-loved industrial buildings and spaces in Hobsons Bay – the West Gate Bridge, Mobil tank, Modscape and Adrian Mauriks’ Fire Within artwork along Kororoit Creek Road. A photo competition encouraged people to step out after dark and capture some of these beacons, with the winning images featured on postcards promoting our local industrial heroes.

We are excited to work in partnership with Hobson’s Bay City Council in the art, science and industrial heritage sphere as well as with our collections, exhibitions and conservation, volunteer and customer services teams who made this great program happen. A huge thank you to all involved.


Museums Victoria houses more than 17 million objects that represent Australia’s cultural and environmental history, which allow us to understand the past, reflect on the present and look into the future. As well as the daily tours delivered at Scienceworks, the collection is also accessed by historians, academics and researchers from around the world. Head to Museums Victoria Collections to explore what’s in our vast collection.

Comments (1)

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Gwen Michener 27 January, 2017 10:11
What a wonderful idea to display tools in the collections store to create an interesting work shed atmosphere! It reminded me of Rare Trades which visited Scienceworks many moons ago! Well done to all involved.
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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.