Ocean’s Forms: Process, Structure, and Imagination at Sea

Image by Michael Olsen via Unsplash
Tuesday 8 May, 2018
6.00 - 7.30pm

This event has passed


Law School Foyer, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney



Sydney Ideas

Void. Mirror. Sanctuary. Habitat. Drowned Earth. Saltwater country. These represent a tiny fraction of the ideas and images the ocean has been seen to express. This Sydney Ideas seminar will gather insights from philosophy, marine geoscience, art, and literature to explore how different ways of knowing the sea have informed one another, and how they might inform one another in the future.

Science can explain how waves activate oceanic forms, and how those forms affect lives, sands, reefs, and coastlines. Through poetry and art, it’s possible to witness how waves and other sea-structures have stimulated imaginations to move beyond the limits of the shore. Truly thinking past terrestrial boundaries requires new connections among ethics, natural science, and creative practice.


Susan Reid, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies


Dr Killian Quigley, Postdoctoral Fellow, Sydney Environment Institute
Associate Professor Ana Vila Concejo, Geocoastal Research Group, School of Geosciences
Brian Robinson, Artist


Killian Quigley is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute. He completed his PhD in English at Vanderbilt University in 2016. He is co-editing, with Margaret Cohen, Senses of the Submarine: A Cultural History of the Undersea. Killian’s writings have appeared recently in MAKE, Eighteenth-Century Life, The Eighteenth Century, the newsletter of the Australian Coral Reef Society, and SEI’s blog. He convenes the Reading Environments group at the University of Sydney, and is at work on a poetic and aesthetic history of the ocean entitled Seascape and the Submarine.

Ana Vila Concejo. My career started in Spain, where I did my undergraduate and MSc studying urban beaches at the University of Vigo; and Portugal, where I completed my PhD at the University of Algarve investigating the short and medium term evolution of tidal inlets in a barrier island system. Then I moved to Australia and started looking into the morphodynamics of flood-tide deltas in wave-dominated coasts within the framework of an ARC funded linkage project which was based in Port Stephens. In 2010 I started researching the morphodynamics of coral reefs, particularly the processes that transport and accumulate sand in backreef environments and the role that reefs have as wave dissipaters. In 2011 I was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship to support my coral reefs morphodynamics research and to continue the studies in the dynamics of coral sands. I am the Deputy Director of One Tree Island Research Station; between 2012 and 2015 I was the Director.

Brian Robinson is a multi-skilled contemporary artist, whose practice includes painting, printmaking, sculpture and design. The graphic style in his practice combines his Torres Strait Islander heritage with a strong passion for experimentation, both in theoretical approach and medium, as well as crossing the boundaries between reality and fantasy. The results combine styles as diverse as graffiti art through to intricate relief carvings and construction sculpture echoing images of Torres Strait cultural motifs, objects and activity.

Susan Reid is a PhD candidate in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, where she is researching ocean justice, relationalities and juridical imaginaries. Susan is an artist, curator, arts developer and lawyer, and is active with a number of national environmental and climate action advocacy groups.