Charles Darwin is known for his scientific achievements, but a conference this week will focus on his relationship with artists.

"Art was seminal to the formation of Darwin's theories," says one of the event's convenors, Dr Fae Brauer, from UNSW's COFA. "When Darwin arrived at Sydney Cove, Conrad Martins did a lot of drawings for him and he used that work heavily.

"At the same time, his theories have had a tremendous impact on artists," says Dr Brauer. "Artists from the 19th Century right through to today are influenced by him."

Amongst the prominent artists and scholars attending Charles Darwin and the Art of Evolution is Stelarc, the renowned performance artist whose work focuses on extending the genetic capabilities of the human body.

He will speak about his third ear, which has been surgically implanted into his arm.

"Renowned for his third hand, virtual arm and his body suspensions from hooks, Stelarc has recently grown an extra ear through stem-cells," says Dr Brauer. "It is internet enabled and has been surgically attached to his arm. At this conference, he will be revealing how it operates as a publicly accessible acoustical organ for people in other places."

Other artists attending include leading scholar, photographer and keynote speaker Phillip Prodger from the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts; Australian-born Lisa Roet, who is fascinated by genetic similiarities between humans and primates; and Indigenous interdisciplinary artist and COFA academic Brook Andrew.

Sessions include: Charles Darwin in Sydney Cove; Darwin, Darwinisms and Australian Indigenous people; Sexual selection, Eugenics and the Darwinian Body and Charles Darwin and Australian Contemporary Artists.

The Australian premiere of Justin Fleming's new play Origin will be performed by NIDA graduates as part of the conference.

What: Charles Darwin and the Art of EvolutionWhen: Thursday 9th September until Saturday 11th SeptemberWhere: Art Gallery of NSW

This conference is a collaboration between UNSW's COFA, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand. For more detail, go to the website.

Media contact:Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media Office | 02 9385 1583 | 0422 934 024 |