Terra Celestial

Terra Celestial artist biographies and statements 

Sean Booth


Sean Booth grew up in the fast paced city of Sydney, but has called Canberra home since 1999. In 2002 Sean completed his undergraduate studies at The Australian National University School of Art in the Gold and Silversmithing workshop. 2003 saw Sean established his practice as a metalsmith and he has maintained a workshop in the region ever since.

His creative direction often looks to push his skills into new terrain with an attraction to engineering, manual machining and modern manufacturing processes. The incorporation of technology and light has been an undercurrent theme in his artistic exploration for many years. Balancing this machine-based approach is a strong knowledge and application of traditional hammer forming techniques, a skill he enjoys employing when the chance arises.

Sean has been represented in national and international exhibitions and has works in national institutions and private collections. His practice has continued to evolve and grow with experiences in private commissions, limited run production, working to deliver large public art as well as the passing on of knowledge via teaching. He strives to balance the desire to create challenging and complicated works against the knowledge that simple is not always easy.

Artist Statement

Our Moon has an enduring influence on our planet, effecting the environment and fuelling myth and stories for generations. Linked to this is the desire to be released from the bounds of Earth, to fly with and beyond the birds and reach for the heavens themselves. NASA and those involved utilised language and iconography to encourage support and tap into myth and imagination.  

Themes that drove my explorations included time, light and the distance covered to reach the moon. Outcomes aimed to be playful, while finding ways to push and expand my skills. The resulting works reflecting on the movement of time, perception of distance and effect of light. 

Megan Watson and Michelle Hallinan

Biography - Megan Watson

Megan Watson is a photographer and filmmaker working in the Canberra region. Megan’s photographic work looks at landscapes and the night sky using natural phenomena to create dramatic images using a range of methods from long exposure to image stacking.

She recently undertook a collaboration with printmaker Michelle Hallinan as part of the 2019 CraftACT Artist in Residency programme. The collaboration explored opportunities and techniques to capture celestial bodies, combining those with landscapes and locations offering a fresh interpretation of land and sky. The works resulting from this residency.

Megan’s film work includes videos that look at objects, locations and history that give us a sense of place and identity. Many of these works have been created in collaboration with local artists and practitioners.

Megan holds a Bachelor in Media Arts & Production from the University of Canberra and a Bachelor of Spatial Information Systems from Charles Sturt University, these degrees combine Megan’s love of science, technology and art and have been instrumental in the formation of her art practice.

Biography - Michelle Hallinan

Michelle Hallinan engages with the Australian landscape –: micro and macro –, to create evocative works on paper: drawings, prints (etchings/ lithographs) and artists’ books. Recently relocated to Newcastle, she is exploring her coastal environs and connection to the natural world. She has received a Masters of Visual Arts (Advanced) from the Australian National University (ANU) and, in 2016, was a received a recipient of one the Vice- Chancellor’s Creative Artist Fellowship Awards from the Australian National University. Michelle has been in many selected and group exhibitions and has work in the AGNSW Art Gallery of New South Wales collection.

Artist Statement

Our work looks at the relationship of the earth to the sky and how we, as humans, interact with and interpret that relationship. 

The earth is the very foundation from which we derive and thrive, from terra firma we stand and look to the sky for guidance, inspiration and information.  We construct interpretations of this relationship through many channels - books, maps, structures, maps, innovations, science, data and creative interpretations in an effort to understand our past, our future and our place in the world. 

Through our residency we devised artworks on these three levels - we looked at the natural state of the land, the stars and the sky, we used reflective and nostalgic interpretations and collated data, past and present, to weave into our works. 

We focused on 3’s:  Apollo 11 took approximately three days to reach the moon. There were three astronauts, three main tracking stations, ‘dishes’, around the world tracking and recording the mission. Our residency at Ready Cut Cottage was three weeks. 

The final outcomes from the residency were three bodies of work with three objects each. 

Rohan Nicol and Sabine Pagan

Biography - Rohan Nicol

Rohan Nicol is an artist, academic and curator with interests encompassing studio craft and design. He holds Qualifications from the Australian National University, The Australian Catholic University and Charles Sturt University, where he completed his PhD. His research and practice link the domestic with global challenges including material use and water. Rohan makes things using his craft skills that prototype new living models, to inspire change in our habits of consumption in the home. His strategy is a deft one, because it is in his hands, a viable proposition not reliant on policy or funding. His work may be described as a micro intervention and its power resides in the fact that his work is – as a way of thinking - scalable to every home. He and colleagues have written that if we are to have any prospect of global renewal, that project will be contingent on domestic renewal. Rohan has said that political agency resides in the DNA of Craft and design and that our futures will depend on carefully crafted ways of thinking and acting.

His awards include the prestigious Bombay Sapphire Design Award and funding to conduct research from the Australia Council and Australian Universities. His work is held in Books, Journals and collections including the Powerhouse Museum and the National Gallery of Australia.

Biography - Sabine Pagan

Sabine Pagan is a interdisciplinary maker whose practice spans jewellery, objects and small-scale installations. Her work is underpinned by a deep knowledge of materials and processes and their applications across disciplines.  

Originally from Switzerland where she trained as a jeweller, Pagans professional career in Australia  expanded to tertiary education. She led the Bachelor of Arts Jewellery program at Charles Sturt university for ten years while maintaining an ongoing independent artistic practice, and later gained a PhD in Architecture from the University of South Australia. 

Her research on the significance of sensorial experiences in place making and their role on memories prompted interdisciplinary and collaborative projects with other artists, architects and photographers.  Her current practice is informed by her ongoing interest in the spatial and sensorial interrelationships between individuals, objects and places. The act of making and collaborating form an integral part of her work, blurring the boundaries between makers, objects, environments and those who experience them. 

Pagan works from her studio in Queanbeyan, producing works for exhibitions, client-based commissions and collaborations such as the Gudgenby Mission project featured in this exhibition 

Artist statement

The Apollo 11 moon landing was a remarkable achievement, shaping global politics and popular culture. In 2019, the 50th anniversary celebrations of the mission attracted fevered attention and unquestioned endorsement of NASA’s 1969 accomplishment. As moon mania swept across our media and through public events, the anniversary was used as an opportunity to push for new investment in space exploration; interestingly, few seemed to question the deeper ethical questions surrounding space travel. Considering the relentless drought, fires, and freak storms the world is experiencing, mankind might benefit from focussing attention and public funds on issues closer to home, that burn less fuel and address humanity’s expanding footprint. 

In response to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, we undertook a parallel alter-mission, transforming the historic Ready Cut cottage in Namadgi National Park into our own SpaceCraftpiloted by our alter egos Gudgenauts Jack Nicol and Jill Pagan. Over a period of 8 days 3 hours and 18 minutes - just like the NASA Astronauts 50 years prior - Jack and Jill bravely launched, left this atmosphere, took a moon walk and came home. They collected artefacts that, together with carefully selected mission paraphernalia, are presented to celebrate, parody and question space travel then and now.