Dr. Trish Adams

Artist & Arts Researcher


“Obverse” was part of the “Femmel_Fissions” exhibition @ ‘the block’ gallery, QUT, Brisbane. This exhibition was co-curated by Rachel Parsons, Lubi Thomas & Trish Adams..

Additional Obverse credits: 
Dr Victor Nurcombe, School of Biomedical Science, The University of Queensland – Scientific Collaborator.
Dr Jonathan Duckworth, Director CiART, RMIT, – Exhibition Consultant
Erik North – OBVERSE “Chair” Construction
Ross Eldridge – Software Development
Roundhouse – Soundtrack
Andrea Rassell – Video Post-production

image credits:
Single chair image: Kate O’Sullivan
The 2 other images and the documentary video: Ben Wikes

My chosen scientist is Rita Levi-Montalcini, whose Nobel-Prize winning scientific discovery of the nerve growth factor has underpinned much subsequent neurological research.

For me, the circumstances surrounding the early stages of her research are also fascinating. At the commencement of World War two she was dismissed from university by Mussolini, along with other Jewish nationals. In order to continue her investigations, she set up the silver-staining microscopy process in her bedroom, created makeshift tools from sewing needles and experimented on chicken’s eggs.

Whilst her primary focus was on the nerve growth factor, Montalcini clearly understood that cell death was an essential and integral part of the nerve growth factor physiological cycle and was literally the OBVERSE or “other side of the coin” in the nerve growth factor system.

The artwork: OBVERSE is composed of a video showing time-lapse video micrograph imagery of fibroblast cells from my forearm cultured in vitro and chemically “instructed” to die – to undergo apoptosis, otherwise known as “induced cell death”.

When a viewer/participant interacts with OBVERSE, their own forearm provides a living canvas upon which the video images are projected – almost as if the skin had been peeled back to reveal the cellular biology beneath the body’s surface, where cell death is a fundamental part of the life process.