UNSW will hold the second edition Diversity Fest from October 26 - 30. During this week of celebration and exploration Dr. Sarah Jane Moore will host three events to foster dynamic conversations, using the power of art and music to explore the connection between nature, diversity and culture.

Dr. Sarah Jane Moore is an independent creative artist who lives in Tasmania. She is also an Adjunct Associate Lecturer within the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UNSW. Dr Moore first left her island home at the age of 17 to study painting, singing, acting, musical theatre and history of the arts at the School of Creative Arts in Wollongong. Through her early experiences with art, Dr Moore “carved out a career as a practising artist and an enduring love of storytelling, image making and the creative process.” Since then Dr Moore has completed PhD research at The University of Sydney to examine “the possibilities of art making and song writing to connect people and to bring communities together to truth tell, to heal and to make peace.” Recently, Dr Moore has worked in the Science Faculty at UNSW Sydney and has found a professional connection between her art practice and science.

Since relocating from Bondi Beach to lutruwita, Tasmania, Dr Moore has taken the opportunity during lock-down to map “losses and isolation alongside joys and discoveries.” With the help of an Australia Council CREATE grant Dr Moore was able to record her findings in song alongside Oliver Gathercole. The songs produced “speak about the importance of place, connection and nature-based learning and wisdoms.” In her Sensing Place event the audience will be given the opportunity to hear and experience this music and then share their responses to the themes the music presents.

In her Weaving Together event Dr Moore will be joined by scientist Luke Steller. Dr Moore says that in this event she uses “weaving as a metaphor and a carrier of stories and when I have shared weaving sessions in Oceanic contexts such as Guam, Fiji and Aoteroa New Zealand I have been reminded of the collectivism of weaving and the notion that when we stop and come together to focus on our busy hands, our minds and our hearts can be freed up to share openly, authentically and with great purpose.” By combining conversation with the physical act of bringing foraged materials together, this event offers the audience an opportunity to unite in discussion as they strive to un-weave capitalist, self-centred and goal-oriented learnings.

Dr Moore believes challenging our established belief system is important because “diversity and inclusion is about re-weaving and interweaving. It embraces knowing and re-knowing, listening and looking - it involves stillness and intent.” Diversity Fest as a whole is meant to provide the UNSW community with opportunities to stand in solidarity with one another. Weaving Together illustrates the purpose of Diversity Fest and leaves attendees with a physical reminder of this week-long learning and growing experience.

Worlding with Oysters is an exhibition event that can be found in the UNSW Library Exhibition Space: Main Library, Level 5 throughout Diversity Fest. The poetics, song and artwork found in this exhibit are based on the research of Dr. Laura Parker. Dr. Parker is an Indigenous Scientia Fellow in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, who has mapped the ways in which oysters struggle to adapt to climate change. She aims to ‘future-proof’ natural oyster populations through building resilience to ocean warming and acidification. Following her introduction to Dr.Parker’s research, Dr Moore shifted her “artistic practise to embrace arts activism, science communication and art works for change.”

In 2019, Dr Moore secured the Australian Network Art Technology (ANAT) Synapse Artist in Residency funding and spent this time working on oyster-focused “academic publications, a community reef-building event; songs, poetry, lectures, workshops, a keynote for the Biosciences Education Australia Network Conference at the University of Melbourne; an exhibition at Culture at Work Art/Science Research Hub in Pyrmont and a commissioned performance at the University of Sydney for prominent oyster researcher Professor Pauline Ross.” Following the completion of her residency Dr Moore has utilized her Australia Council CREATE Grant to work with Jackson Mann, Curator of Special Collections and Exhibitions at UNSW Library.

“This exhibition combines my poetry, singing and art making and provides me with the opportunity to demonstrate how one scientist and one artist can build a reef, create a community and shift consciousness and intent. It focuses on the humble oyster and its value; its importance and its beauty.”

Dr Moore states that “artistic practice holds voice and gives voice.” Through her art and Diversity Fest events she offers her audience, and the UNSW community, an opportunity to hear her thoughts and share their own.

“I have faith in futures where scientists and artists are valued equally, where humans are respected and respectful and where mother earth is once in balance and in harmony. It is here that the oyster sings,” Dr Moore says. Shannon Carley.