18-19 October, Art Gallery of New South Wales, & Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

How can we imagine the future when we can’t see it? Can arts and culture create the individual and collective resources to support future thinking – not as an abstract proposition but in ways that save and transform lives?

This two-day conference explores collaborative cultures that enmesh arts with science, clinical and other knowledges to create new ways to imagine the future. It examines the radical social role of cultural institutions at a time of general anxiety.

Through conversations and presentations it will focus on the practical question of how we generate individual and collective responses to address anxieties, loss of hope and the general failure of future thinking.

Anxiety, Culture and the Future is convened by the team for Curating Third Space, an ARC-funded project researching art-science-public collaborations and their psychosocial benefits. It is staged as part of The Big Anxiety festival, and connects with the festival’s research and practice in empathy, mental health and suicide prevention.


Vanessa Bartlett is part of a group of researchers pioneering psychosocial approaches to curatorial practice, offering new perspectives on how curating engages audiences with emotion and affect. Her current work is focused on how digital art and design can help to illuminate the psychological impact of living in a digital culture. Vanessa has edited two volumes for award-winning academic publisher Liverpool University Press (UK), the most recent of which was a collaboration with neuroscientist Henrietta Bowden-Jones (OBE). Her exhibitions at major international arts spaces, such as FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), UNSW Galleries and Furtherfield have been visited by over 40,000 people internationally.

Jill Bennett is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), where she is also Director of the National Institute for Experimental Arts, and Founding Director of The Big Anxiety – festival of arts + science + people. Her felt Experience & Empathy Lab (fEEL) advances the study of the subjective experience of ageing, mental health, marginalisation and stigma, combining psycho-social approaches with the use of immersive environments and virtual reality.


Katie Dyer is Senior Curator, Contemporary, at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences where she leads and develops creative cross-disciplinary contemporary curatorial programming. She has extensive experience working with established and emerging artists and historical collections. Her current research areas focus on creative practice as a response to our contemporary conditions, interdisciplinary collaboration and the re-imagined museum. 

Lynn Froggett has a Social Sciences/Humanities background. She researches socially engaged arts in clinical, community, cultural, arts and health and art-science contexts. Recent topics include memory loss, pain, disabilities, robotics, and technology, civic renewal. She is Professor/Co-Director of the Institute for Citizenship, Society and Change at the University of Central Lancashire, UK and Executive Chair of the Association for Psychosocial Studies.

Lizzie Muller is a curator and researcher specialising in interaction, audience experience and interdisciplinary collaboration. Her research explores the relationship between curatorial practice and shifts in contemporary knowledge formations, audience-centred curatorial methodologies, the impact of digital media on curating and museology and the history and future of museums as sites of knowledge creation. She is an Associate Professor at UNSW Art & Design.