Nature as a work of art
I came to the realisation that biologists are incredibly creative people and it was an inspiration to work alongside them in RSB
It could be a scene straight from ancient Egypt, where the heads of pharaohs were adorned with snake crowns.
But the latest creation of Dr Steven Holland, MAVisualArts '95 has a more modern use.
Nicknamed the ASH snake crown, the gold plated aluminium crown that rests on a bronze stand is fit for any powerful person.
However, in this case, it sits atop the president of the Australian Society of Herpetologists (ASH), which promotes the study of reptiles and amphibians.
It is the culmination of a special cross-campus link up between the ANU School of Art-based Fellow and herpetologist Professor Scott Keogh, from the ANU Research School of Biology (RSB), as part of the Vice-Chancellor's College Artist Fellows Scheme.
Holland has been inspired by nature for years and studied the snakes of the Canberra region for his PhD. He says his link up with Keogh furthered this.
"I wanted to expand my research in biology and I found I could do this through sculpture through the scheme," he says.
"As an artist, I was enriched by working with such an impressive biologist. I went to conferences, attended first year biology lectures and immersed myself in the language biologists use.
"I came to the realisation that biologists are incredibly creative people and it was an inspiration to work alongside them in RSB."
Creating cross-disciplinary friendships
For Keogh, the match-up created a friendship that would have been unlikely to flourish without the scheme.
"We got to know each other well during this time and I encouraged Steven to attend a national scientific conference I was hosting," he says.
"Steven presented a talk to 200 scientists and I am quite proud of this, as it was the first ever art talk at our conference and Steven was a hit."
The snake crown was presented to the president of ASH at its annual conference in Launceston and will continue to be placed on the head of the incumbent president.
- For more information about the Vice-Chancellor's College Artist Fellows Scheme, visit soa.anu.edu.au/artist-fellows
- This article originally appeared in the ANU Reporter
- Keogh group - Evolutionary biology and ecology of reptiles and amphibians.