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David Walsh: On the Origin of Art


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What is art – and why do we make it?

David Walsh – the provocative creator of Hobart’s phenomenally successful Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) – believes that the origins, motivations and possibilities of art require fresh consideration.

In an attempt to move beyond ‘cultural’ ideas of art, he is asking evolutionary biologists, social scientists and neurologists to help him curate an upcoming exhibition at Mona: one that mines the universal, emotional and – therefore, they argue, evolutionary – dimensions of creative expression. ‘Art has a cultural component of course … it is often made and judged by people, and people are cultural,’ Walsh explains. But his omission of art academics is a deliberate ploy aimed at extending the field of inquiry.

So: how deep will Walsh and company go? What will they find – and how will they prove it? As Walsh joins us to question why we engage in acts of imagination that reach beyond our conscious awareness, we’ll explore what creativity means … not only for art, but for humanity itself.

Hosted by Jennifer Byrne.

This event is presented in partnership between Mona and the Wheeler Centre.


David Walsh

David Walsh is a mathematician, gambler and gallery owner from Hobart.

Jennifer Byrne

Jennifer Byrne is a senior journalist and broadcaster who has worked in all arms of the media: print, radio and television. Having done her cadetship at the Age and worked on UK’s Fleet Street, she was a founding reporter with Channel Nine’s Sunday programme and spent some 12 years traveling the... Read more


Athenaeum Theatre

188 Collins Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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