Photograph of Lawrence Hargrave kneeling beside box kite at Woollahra Point, print made circa 1977. Powerhouse Collection.
Photograph of Lawrence Hargrave kneeling beside box kite at Woollahra Point, print made circa 1977. Powerhouse Collection

Dr Sarah Barns

Research Fellowship Project

July 2017

Project Title: Eyes on the Skies: The Scientific Imagination of Lawrence Hargraves

Studio portrait of Dr Sarah Barns.
Studio portrait of Dr Sarah Barns.

Dr Sarah Barns’ fellowship continues an ongoing series of research investigations exploring the nature of the scientific imagination during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and its links with disciplines today associated with the arts and creativity. Barns’ research uses the MAAS collection as part of a profile of Lawrence Hargrave whose work on aviation models he considered ‘his very soul’s work.’ Through research of Hargrave’s diaries and relevant photographic archives, Barns seeks to understand and capture a sense of how Hargrave understood his own work of invention as creative endeavour. This involves access and documentation of elements of the photographic collection, personal diaries and documentation of relevant artefacts and models.

Barns’ work as a practitioner relates to the interpretation of digital collections through experiential media and site-based digital storytelling. In 2015-16, Barns was lead curator and interpretation consultant for the Arts Centre of Christchurch’s Rutherford’s Den, a museum space dedicated to the life and legacy of Lord Ernest Rutherford, for which she developed a series of exhibits exploring the historical relationship between the arts and sciences in the development of twentieth century modern physics. Previously, Barns was audio-visual interpretation consultant for the redevelopment of the ANU Mt Stromlo Observatory Director’s Residence, creating a series of film and sound based responses to the history of Mt Stromlo as a space of creative and scientific endeavour. Barns connects practice-led research in digital archives with experiential media and design opportunities through Esem Projects, a practice dedicated to expanding the possibilities of place-making, historical interpretation and community engagement in the public domain.

Barns is a Research Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University and Director of experiential media and design practice Esem Projects.