Silent Witnesses exhibition

In 2017, ANU Heritage curated an exhibition of artworks by Canberra/Queanbeyean-based sculptor Martin Rowney to highlight one of the many ways in which the heritage values of a place can be interpreted, explored and retained.

The artworks in the Silent Witnesses exhibition, made using historic fittings recovered prior to the demolition of the old John Curtin School of Medical Research, reflect upon the dichotomy between the significant nature of the research undertaken at the medical school, and the relatively ordinary nature of everyday objects that were silent witnesses to these important events.

When the John Curtin School of Medical Research was partially demolished in 2014, many of the original fittings such as Bakelite switches and power point, Negretti & Zambra thermographs, pressure gauges, fans and bells were salvaged. Some of these fittings were reinstated in the building as non-functioning affectations. The rest were reassembled into artworks by Martin Rowney, whose sculptural practice explores concepts of history, archaeology and identity.

This exhibition was one of the ways ANU Heritage has interpreted the ‘intangible’ heritage values of the Australian National University. The exhibition highlighted some of the memories, stories and people that make this place important.

The exhibition was held in the Australian Centre on China in the World gallery from November 2017 to January 2018. It was curated by Jack Dunstan with assistance from Annette Liu.