10th September 2021

Design as the essence of every original idea is the theme of an exhibition opening at the QUT Art Museum next month showcasing the work by alumni who have become leading creative practitioners in Australia and overseas.

Thinking into Being: QUT Alumni Triennial (9 October 2021 - 27 February 2022) highlights QUT’s unique cross-disciplinary, collaborative approach to teaching and learning. It features work by graduates from the Schools of Architecture and Built Environment, Creative Practice, and Design now forging brilliant careers in their fields.

They include 3D artist and set designer for Universal Pictures Benjamin Donnelly who, between jobs on films like Thor: Love and Thunder (due for release in 2022) continues to guest lecture and tutor QUT industrial design students. Jennifer Marchant is also a design tutor at QUT and the award-winning art and design practitioner has been making her mark with public art and design projects that include the National Police Memorial in Canberra. For the Thinking into Being exhibition, she’s creating a seven-metre site-specific wall sculpture.

QUT Art Museum Assistant Curator Katherine Dionysius added the other creatives featured in the show are landscape architect Kyle Bush, multidisciplinary visual artist Elisa Jane Carmichael, experience designer Jessica Cheers, visual artist Emma Coulter, urban designer Amy Grey, image maker Anthony Hearsey, architect Wei Jien, architect Clare Kennedy and designer Dylan Sheppard.


Elisa Jane CARMICHAEL, Dabiyil wunjayi (water today) 2020, cyanotype on cotton (technical assistance: Renata Buziak). Courtesy of the artist and Onespace Gallery. Photo: Louis Lim.


Thinking into Being is a wide-ranging exploration of the rarely seen creative processes that bring into being the objects, products and experiences of our culture,” said Ms Dionysius.

“Creativity is at the heart of all big ideas, and creative thinking is a common thread among these diverse and dynamic practitioners. The exhibition showcases the wide range of QUT graduates’ careers pathways and demonstrates how design can serve as a conduit for change.

“What is unique to these people, is that they have foundation studies in one discipline but have found their niche in sometimes entirely different areas - their strengths are drawing upon creative and conceptual skills to bring ideas into being. It is more important than ever that people have the skill set to draw connections and influence thinking in unlikely ways.


Benjamin DONNELLY Lunar rover 2020, digital. Courtesy of the artist.


“Kyle Bush, for example, studied landscape architecture and is operating in the field of social and environmental activism – he is currently undertaking doctoral research, looking at the power of mapping practices and how historical information is revealed and concealed in these processes.

“Another graduate, Leecee Carmichael, studied fashion at QUT, and is working primarily in visual art. She has a fibre-based practice, and employs traditional weaving techniques in her works, along with materials collected from Quandamooka Country.”

Ms Dionysius said she and Gallery Director Vanessa Van Ooyen worked with QUT academics from across the schools of Architecture and Built Environment, Creative Practice, and Design to form a curatorial panel who selected the alumni for the show. They included Professor Lisa Scharoun, head of QUT’s School of Design.

“Design is the driving concept behind a process of transformation and representations – giving our material culture its value, meaning and balance. Designers go beyond invention and foster a culture of innovation,” said Professor Scharoun.

“The School of Design connects many varying disciplines, fields and practices across QUT and the community. We believe in ‘change by design’, shaping a better future through our approach to the design of environments, objects, digital and physical systems, and processes.


Anthony HEARSEY Australia is burning 2020, digital/3D. Courtesy of the artist. Produced using NASA’s FIRMS data.


“Over the past year and a half, the world has been on an unexpected journey – one that has bound us together in an understanding of our collective humanity. Through the destruction and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic we must hold fast to the maxim: ‘what unites us is always greater than what divides us.’ These works represent a range of practices coming together to showcase the ability of design to inspire and transform. Visitors will leave with a deeper understanding of the impact that design can have on everything around us.” 

The message will be delivered via paintings, sculpture, furniture, prints, digital media, photography, and site-specific installations. There will also be sketchbooks, models, screen-based media, and interactive visitor activities revealing artists’ and designers’ creative processes.

Exhibition highlights include:

  • Kyle Bush’s large, printed wall map, a video animation of the layers appearing on it, and an interactive mapping station for visitors to create their own map.
  • Elisa Jane Carmichael’s large cyanotype along with a sound work of waves and objects she used to create the cyanotype (netting, rope, woven objects).
  • Jessica Cheers’ selection of objects on the wall, with a hopscotch print on the floor to guide visitors through her design process.
  • Three paintings by Emma Coulter plus one large sculpture and two site-specific sculptures specially designed for the window boxes in the Art Museum.
  • Anthony Hearsey’s astrophotography and a video showing how he creates the imagery.
  • Clare Kennedy’s site-specific circular wall sculpture with reclaimed concrete and steel.
  • Dylan Sheppard’s mind map, displayed on a large, interactive touch screen.

For more information, visit the exhibition website: https://www.artmuseum.qut.edu.au/whats-on/2021/exhibitions/thinking-into-being-qut-alumni-triennial

Main image: Jennifer MARCHANT Riverine (detail), Montague Markets, Brisbane, 2021, aluminium, matte and gloss acrylic. Courtesy of the artist. Art consultant: Creativemove. Photo: A J Moller.

Artist biographies:

Kyle Bush is an Associate Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at RMIT University. His practice spans design and construction, co-production of spaces, events and drawings, and writing. He is currently completing a practice research PhD at RMIT focused on cartographic methods which expose, interpret and reorient the production of space in landscapes of extraction.

Elisa Jane Carmichael is an internationally acclaimed, multidisciplinary artist and Quandamooka woman who honours her saltwater heritage by incorporating materials collected from Country, embracing traditional techniques, and expressing contemporary adaptations through painting, weaving, and textiles.

Jessica Cheers is an experience designer, educator, and PhD candidate. She has an Honours degree in Interactive and Visual Design from QUT, as well as seven years’ experience practising across a menagerie of design modalities. She has exhibited internationally and produced award-winning work in the fields of System Design, Social Design, Service Design, Social Impact and Digital Health.

Emma Coulter has an exhibition history spanning from 2005 to present. Recognised for her site-specific works, her awards include the Linden New Art Prize (2016) and the Footscray Art Prize (2021).  This year she created her largest site-specific work to date, a 100-metre commission that wraps the Metro Tunnel’s building facade in central Melbourne.

Benjamin Donnelly is a concept artist and set designer working in the Australian film industry on titles such as Godzilla, Thor Ragnarok, Thor Love & Thunder and Aquaman. He has a strong passion for design, visualisation and storytelling and uses real-time 3D visualisation to provide interactive virtual presentations of film sets. His projects explore positive futures, where humans and technology interact. From autonomous medical robotics to cube satellites and lunar surface vehicles, his work focuses on contemporary themes of innovation reaching across a multitude of disciplines.

Amy Grey is an urban designer and placemaker with experience in local government, private consulting and place activation in Queensland. She is currently the Coordinator of Urban Design and Place Making at a Southeast Queensland Council. Previously she was involved in place activations such as Diner en Blanc Brisbane and Giant Games @ King George Square. In 2016 she was named one of ten emerging voices, by Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.

Anthony Hearsey is a Brisbane-based image maker, who uses a combination of CGI, photography and retouching in his work. He has worked on many national and global advertising campaigns, in partnership with ION Studio. When he isn’t working on commercial projects, he can be found Imaging the smallest of insects, to the largest of galaxies. Anthony’s love for science and nature constantly drives him to push his technical abilities.

Wei Jien is a registered architect and Project Director at lighting design firm L’Obervatoire International, New York, which she joined in 2012 after earning a MA in Urban Design from QUT. Wei is now responsible for a variety of project types and scale – such as Facebook offices with Gehry Partners, and other projects with Steven Holl Architects including the expansion at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Glassell School of Art and the Nancy and Rich Kinder building. 

Clare Kennedy is an architect operating in Australia and South-East Asia. Her particular interest is the use of local materials in construction. She has a passion for earthen construction and ceramics in architecture, making bricks and tiles by hand using local soils for use in her projects and public exhibitions. Clare undertakes projects either on her own or as part of Five Mile Radius, a practice she founded in 2016 to research and promote the use of construction materials local to building sites.

Jennifer Marchant is an award-winning art and design practitioner based in Brisbane. Marchant is acclaimed for her sophisticated and well-considered public art and design projects that punctuate the built environment, nationally and overseas. Her studies of light and shadow capture the essence of form and place, reflected in her art and design works.

Dylan Sheppard is a Munich-based Australian designer, who works as Digital Design Lead at idealworks, a wholly owned BMW Group subsidiary. He joined idealworks as a founding member after three years at BMW AG, where he led an international team in the development of applications and systems throughout the BMW Group, coordinating impactful projects with BMW Motorrad, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, and varied departments at BMW.

Media contact:

Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151, amanda.weaver@qut.edu.au

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au


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