11/05/2018 - 16:27

The Art of Research

11/05/2018 - 16:27


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The Art of Research
L-R: Lab Coats by WA artists Ben Juniper, Douglas Kirsop, Stormie Mills, Dean Alston and Philippa Nikulinsky am.

Recently, five much loved WA artists took on a novel challenge of expressing their support for medical research by decorating lab coats in their distinctive styles.

The aim of the collection, called ‘Curiosity: The Art of Research,’ is to spark curiosity amongst WA’s philanthropists and corporate donors in the work of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

Launched at a private gathering last month, this collection is not only a symbol of generosity by the artists involved, but it’s a metaphor to explain that, in the right hands, a lab coat is a part of amazing discoveries.

We asked artists why they took up the lab coat design challenge.

Ben Juniper
‘Entropy (inside transformation)’

“I’ve always been interested in science, medicine and research.

“I had a post-natal stroke at 10 months old so I was in and out of hospital a lot as a young boy.

“The front of the coat is chaos. It pulls itself into order as it passes over the shoulder and transforms into a multiple DNA helix.

“There’s an art to science and the converse is true. The two are interrelated. My late father (Robert Juniper) was an amateur astronomer. We spent a lot of time looking up at near celestial objects, having discussions about the universe.

“Art can express scientific endeavour and there’s a kind of a science to making art too.”

Douglas Kirsop
‘Pardoo Creek’ and ‘Rock Reflections’

Scenes from the Kimberley cover renowned artist Douglas Kirsop’s lab coat, linking WA’s rich landscapes with West Australian medical research.

“We’ve all lost family and friends through cancer and health problems, so anything that helps. 

“It’s a good cause. Often we are asked to give a donation, and artists are the first port of call... artists and wineries.”

“What goes around comes around really.”

Stormie Mills 
‘Not anatomically correct’

Graffiti artist, street artist, fine artist and now lab coat artist.

Stormie Mills began giving voice to the lost souls of the Perth cityscape in the forgotten corners of abandoned buildings and broken back lanes before his work appeared in galleries around the world.

The two skeletons on his lab coat reveal his own personal link to medical research.

“I was born with a horseshoe kidney which affects 1 in 600 people, meaning the kidneys are fused together to form a super kidney.”

His skeletons have horseshoes dangling in their torsos.

“Everyone’s unique attributes are more than just skin deep, they flow through our DNA.

“I’m thrilled to be part of a project that highlights the valuable work of the incredible staff at the Perkins, whose focus is on the fight to combat the three biggest killers in our community – cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”

Dean Alston 
‘My hat! My coat’

Dean’s unmistakable lab coat is covered with colourful characters including Brian Burke, Tony Abbott in his budgie smugglers, Barnaby Joyce, Trump, Kim Jong-Un, quokkas and sharks.

“The lab coats might spark a bit of awareness in people. I think most people give and I think most thinking people are aware of what this sort of work does for the community.

“The lab coats are an enduring collection.”

 Philippa Nikulinsky AM 
‘Heart Beats’

A foxglove grows out of a lab coat pocket designed by WA’s most celebrated wildflower

An intricate diagram of the heart with descriptions of many serious heart conditions covers the back.

It’s a clever link between the work of the internationally-renowned botanical artist and medical research.

Cardiologists are familiar with the magical powers of the foxglove (Digitalis lanata).

Digitalin, extracted from the toxic plant, is commonly prescribed for heart conditions.

“My husband has a pace-maker so we’ve been the recipients of medical research.

“I’m happy to do things like this.”


On Saturday 13-14 October you can combine the art of cycling with the gift of philanthropy by joining like-minded cyclists in a two-day bike ride, the MACA Ride To Conquer Cancer, with all proceeds benefiting cancer research at the Perkins. Visit conquercancer.org.au for more details.


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