Centre of the Centre is a major new commission by Australian-born, Paris-based contemporary artist Mel O’Callaghan that traces the origins of life and its regenerative forces, iterated through video, performance and sculpture. The catalyst for this new body of work is one small mineral given to the artist by her grandfather, renowned mineralogist Albert Chapman. The mineral contains a small pocket of water, possibly millions of years old, which holds traces of the elemental forces responsible for all life on earth.

Through the immersive Centre of the Centre video artwork, audiences are plunged 4km below the surface in the Pacific Ocean to encounter lifeforms sustained in extreme environments. The alluring sculptural installation Respire, respire is made up of convex and concave sheets of glass, manipulated to push material boundaries. A performance that activates these sculptures will bring the unifying lifeforce of breath to the centre, capturing its powerful capabilities to create both calm and excitement through the depth and rapidity of inhalation and exhalation.

Mel O’Callaghan’s Centre of the Centre was curated and developed by Artspace and is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW. Centre of the Centre is co-commissioned by Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers; Artspace, Sydney; and The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane. With Commissioning Partners Andrew Cameron AM & Cathy Cameron and Peter Wilson & James Emmett; and Lead Supporter, Kronenberg Mais Wright. The development and presentation of the Centre of the Centre is supported by the Fondation des Artistes; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the US National Science Foundation.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Image Credit: Mel O` Callaghan, Centre of the Centre, 2019, Installation View, Artspace, Sydney, Courtesy the Artist and Kronenberg Mais Wright, Sydney; Galerie Allen, Paris; Belo-Galsterer, Lisbon. Photo: Zan Wimberley.


09 Jul 2021 - 01 Aug 2021


9:00 am - 5:00 pm



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Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts
408 Flinders Street, Townsville 4810 QLD