XII. Wise heads, 2015


Wise heads, a video installation, conjures the origin and scale of heavy metal pollution in the Derwent estuary through historic and contemporary video media materials woven around an interview with the last remaining ‘Wise Head’ scientific witness to the events – Professor June Olley AM, aged 90 years.


This video acts as a legacy and witness to her memory of events around the nature and intensity of metal contamination during the 1950s to 1970s, including eye witness accounts of liquid mercury draining to the river, gathering and reporting of early scientific evidence for contamination, and the community and media response.


Professor Olley was a contemporary of and co-worker with Professor Harry Bloom (deceased) who brought the issue of metal contamination to public awareness in the 1970s. Professor Olley continues to be an active researcher at the University of Tasmania.

June Olley is a collaborative art-science project carried out with Head of the Tasmanian College of the Arts Professor Kit Wise, Harry Bloom Memorial Award Recipient Professor Peter Davies, and artistic collaborator Tess Campbell.