Rare Bites is a series of 30 minute lunchtime talks held monthly during semester. Each talk features an expert speaker spotlighting specific Rare Books and Special Collections resources that are part of their field of study.
The series gives the opportunity for staff & students to learn about some of the treasures and lesser-known gems within Rare Books & Special Collections.
Talk One: More than just its prayers: A late medieval Dutch Prayer Book in Fisher Library
Our first talk More than just its prayers: A late medieval Dutch Prayer Book in Fisher Library is by Dan Anlezark- McCaughey Professor of Early English Literature and Language; Director, Medieval and Early Modern Centre; Associate Dean Research (Education) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of English who will be talking about the book from our collection: Add. Ms. 342
Add. Ms. 342 is an unstudied late medieval prayer book in Middle Dutch and Latin. This late fifteenth-century manuscript, written on paper, is only minimally decorated, and is the kind of book that was the output of mass production in the Low Countries in the later Middle Ages. The book appears to have remained in private ownership from the time it was made until relatively recently, as is indicated by the inscription of a number of names (including those of children) up to the early nineteenth century.
This short talk will provide a brief overview of the book in its evolving historical contexts, from the time of its manufacture, until it was acquired by the Fisher Library.
Talk Two: Illustrations to micrographs: Visualising patterns in Botany
Learning about the world around us involves observing and recognising the patterns. In science, learning is about sharing and challenging “the what” and “the how” of our observations through discussion within the classroom and with the scientific community at large.
Join Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell from Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science discussing Botanische Wandatafeln – a series of technical scientific illustrations (1874-1911) distributed globally as teaching tools to support student learning in botany.
Reliance on these illustrations
of resources fell out favour for a number of reasons including the advent of
digital imaging which coincided with the explosion in the number of online
resources (including the University’s eBOT collection). Re-utilising Leopold
Kny’s series in a digital platform allows for an enriched dialogue about how
science, in general, and botany, is communicated.
Professor Rosanne Quinnell is from Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of
Science. Dr Quinnell’s research and teaching focus on plant sciences and the
use of technology-enhanced solutions to improve student learning e.g. Botany,
Zoology and Human Biology virtual microscopy slide collections, eBOT botanical
image repository, electron laboratory notebooks, CampusFlora apps.
Talk Three: Not an Ordinary Dog: Flush by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf wrote Flush, a fictional biography of
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, after having been captivated by
the dog’s presence in the love letters of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning.
Flush was “not an ordinary dog”, by Woolf’s description, and he is certainly
more extraordinary for his persistence in literary imagination.
Join Dr Vanessa Berry, Lecturer in Creative Writing at the
University of Sydney discussing Flush by Virginia Woolf (1933) in our third Rare Bites Talk of
Although Flush was a bestseller for the Hogarth Press at the
time of its publication, it has long been considered one of Woolf’s minor
works. However, with the rise of animal studies in the humanities there has
been an upsurge of interest in Flush.
This presentation will introduce Flush and the genre of the
canine memoir and consider the literary potential of the human-canine
Dr Vanessa Berry is a Lecturer
in Creative Writing at the University of Sydney, and a writer known for her
work with history, memory and archives. Her most recent book Mirror Sydney,
which examines the city’s marginal and undercurrents, was published in 2017 and
won the Mascara Avant Garde literary award.
Recently, the Library’s ThinkSpace installed a new 16:3 aspect digital video wall – a tool to enable creative teaching, learning and sharing in our technology-driven, creative play-space. Peer Learning Advisor Levi interviewed Andrew Herman, international student and freelance photographer at the University of Sydney, who is using the ThinkSpace video wall to display a selection of his work.
It was a warm and humidly sunny Sydney afternoon when I interviewed Andrew Herman about his work – and the journey that brought him to this point. I had known Andrew, in passing, for about two-and-a-half years. He was a regular user of ThinkSpace and was present from the moment it opened back in early 2016, before we had even had a hard launch for the space.
Back then, ThinkSpace was a tiny infant. It was hampered and restricted, limited and bumbling in its movement. Still learning to walk. Still learning to crawl. We had leased it in agreement with the Student Centre, who had stipulated that they would hold court in the space at the beginning of each semester, which meant that we would have to vacate premises like vagabond squatters, packed and herded off to the outer realms of SciTech Library.
At the time, ThinkSpace still looked like an off-shoot of SciTech Library – a spare space for study with a series of computers for students to access and a somewhat random, and extremely temperamental, 3D Printer that made it very clear that it would be working on its own terms. Soon, a wayward Carvey joined the ranks (and almost set fire to the space… literally not figuratively). Near the resident PC’s were two iMac computers, and these were what Andrew used in the space. He had been working on photography at the time and was experiencing difficulty with PC’s around campus because they simply did not have the processing power required to adequately support the full Adobe Suite.
Fast-forward to the present day, when ThinkSpace has blossomed and bloomed into quite literally everything that it was envisioned to be – cue here a background refrain of Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” cascading over the scenery. ThinkSpace is effectively zoned with spaces demarcated for 3D Printing, Virtual Reality, a Design Hub of iMac computers, and a 1-Button Recording Studio. Life is good. I sit with Andrew at one of the iMac computers, sunlight streaming in through the windows behind him and casting light on the frantic movements of someone enjoying some virtual reality. Andrew’s demeanour is calm and relaxed in contrast. He tells me about what first drew him into ThinkSpace, detailing that the space was always well spread-out, with lots of students – but that it never felt cramped. He affectionately tells me that the space is unique and that the equipment it offers can’t be found anywhere else on campus. He says that because the space is so full of energy and is busy with workshops as well as consultations, he has learnt a lot about 3D Printing and some of the other tech the space offers, simply by being present.
I ask him about his current projects and to tell me what he’s been working on, and so we start discussing his work in photography.
“Well, I’ve done a lot of work for clubs and societies with USU. I’ve done grad photos, couples photography for people that met at uni – which is really cute, they’re so adorable – and I do a lot of photography of the architecture of USyd.”
He counts these things on his fingers, as they stack up and it becomes apparent that the scope and history of his work is long and large. But when he mentions the architecture of USyd and the photography he’s been doing on it, his eyes light up, and I know we’re about to get into something special and significant.
“I take these shots – these perspective shots – from the point of view of people walking around. Usyd encompasses a long history of architectural styles that compliments its long history as a university, with spatterings of neo-gothic, brutalist, and many other styles of architecture ranging over decades. And these things are around us all the time, but the sad thing is that because we all get into a routine of walking from class-to-class, or from class to work, we become blind to all these amazing architectural landscapes around us and they fade away from our awareness.”
“So would you use the Adobe Suite – Photoshop in particular – to sort of bring these details out? Like, sharpen them up and bring them forward, sort of?”
“Mmmm, not really. I don’t really tamper with or change the image or edit it in any way. I try to make sure I capture what I’m really looking at in the actual photography itself. So, I make sure I get the right angle and capture the essence of the moment in the picture. My aim is to try to have an image that is just so real and with resolutions so high, that you can almost feel like you could just step right into the frame.”
“If I can capture a moment, and show you the image without any context, and have you feel some sort of emotion in response to it – then I’ve done my job. And if the emotion you feel is something like what I was feeling, then even better.”
“Ah, yes. So, you really like to let yourself sink into the moment and take your time in it. That’s really quite fantastic, and you know, I feel like I’m starting to get a sense of what these images might be like, and I’m quite excited by the sound of them!”
“Yes, and I really only use Photoshop and editing tools to compliment what I’ve captured – not to change it or edit it. The main thing I like using it for is exporting my work into a variety of formats.
My work has been featured in large billboard-size images around campus, and if it wasn’t for the Photoshop tech in ThinkSpace, I couldn’t have my images displayed at that size – at that high a resolution. Which is really exciting! I didn’t have these things available at my old university, so it’s amazing to have it here and it’s really opened up my range of possibilities.”
“Ah! Where was your old university? Was it in the States?”
“Yea, it was in North Arizona and it was nestled in, like, a mountain and forest region. Like – you know Narnia? Have you ever read Narnia, or seen the first movie?”
“Oh yes. Oh my God, I think I know where you’re going with this, and I love it.”
“Yea! You know when they first come out of the wardrobe and into the snowy forest area?”
I whimpered affectionately at the memory and made a mental note to indulge in some escapism by re-watching the movie later on in my evening. “Ye-es!”
“Well, yea, it’s basically like that in winter. Just absolutely beautiful. And so I started doing photography then as a way of – as an outlet – alongside studying because I was studying so much! Like, 18-hour days. And so, to keep myself balanced, I would go on long hikes and take pictures of the landscape as I went, and that’s where my love of photography was born. See, I didn’t go to school for photography or anything like that. A lot of my friends have, and their approach is completely different. They tend to snap their cameras and try to get a bunch of images that they can edit later – and the editing is where their art is. But for me, it’s more important to try to get it in the moment. The editing is just to put finishing touches on and to export into different formats. So my love and practice for photography started at home, and then grew here – in ThinkSpace.”
“That’s amazing. And so, which directions do you think your love and practice will grow in the future?”
“At the moment I’m really heading towards videography and video work. I love photography and still images, but there is only so much you can capture there. I want more. I want more emotion and feeling, and I feel that with video you can capture movement and therefore more emotion. I can do what I aim to do with my photography – which is to make you feel a certain way, without giving you context – but through movement captured in a format that can be exported to other formats and resolutions. And that’s why the video wall really interests me. I’m really interested in seeing how my videography can be ported over to it and displayed.”
“And your approach to your videography – is it the same as your approach to your photography? Are you ‘creating the magic’, so to speak, in editing?”
“Oh, I’m still trying to capture as much as possible – as a closely as possible – in the moment of filming. But I’m still learning how to do that with video. I’m still at the stage where I’m concentrating on getting the technical aspect right, so because that pulls a lot of my focus, I can’t really be fully in the moment yet and keep an eye on making sure the tech is going right. I was like that with photography at first, and then when I got comfortable with the technical side of it, I was able to relax into the moment more. I’m working towards that with video, so the artistry is there in both aspects – in the filming and the editing. But editing video is a lot harder than editing photography, so there’s a challenge there too.
But I really want to have something up and ready so I can play around with the video wall because ThinkSpace really is an amazing and unique space, and it’s a gateway to other possibilities. I mean, a lot of the challenges I’ve faced in my work have been overcome by combining multiple skills-sets, and I think that sort of open and multi-skilled approach is something that ThinkSpace really represents. I feel like it used to be – in previous generations – that people developed really niche skills-sets and specialised in those, whereas now, it’s more about the sharing of knowledge. That is basically what ThinkSpace does and what it facilitates. I mean, look at me – my interest and area is photography, but I know a bit about 3D Printing now and VR, and I’m branching out into videography. It’s enabled a lot of growth!”
“That’s amazing to hear, Andrew, because that was part of the original vision. I remember whenever I’d answer the top question people used to ask me in the early days – which was ‘what is ThinkSpace?’ – I used to say that it’s a space that promotes cross-disciplinary conversations through the use of creative tech. So to hear that it’s kind of allowed that for you is like – boom! Mission accomplished, for us.”
We have a bit of a laugh here and I notice Andrew’s expression change slightly. Then he pulls out his phone. Must’ve had a buzz – possibly someone else vying for his time.
“Ah, ok, so I just have one more question to ask you.”
Checking his phone, he says “Sure! I’ve just got to message this person back – it’s a photography job that I need to run along to – but fire the question at me real quick.”
“What is your current, and most favourite, project?”
He looks up at me, smiles, and puts his phone away, clapping the cover shut over it with energy and enthusiasm before answering the question.
“I’m trying to put together a photography series I’ve been working on over the past 4 years. It’ll be 4 years of hi-resolution photography, with an environmental spin – so it focuses on the process of glacial melting and feeding into rivers and waterfalls, which is a very gradual process. The pictures have been taken in Colorado and New Zealand, which are similar high elevation environments. NZ has a large diversity of different environmental systems, but the ones I am comparing are of glacial and ice lake runoffs. However, similar to my shots of architecture around USyd, these have been taken from the perspective of someone walking, through parks and trails for example. There are also some aerial shots to provide a different perspective. So it’s basically landscape photography in natural areas, but in an environmentally-minded way. And I haven’t been able to put it all together and work towards displaying in a format like the video wall in ThinkSpace, until now.”
“Wow. That sounds absolutely wonderful and fantastic, and I can’t wait to see it Andrew.”
And this is where we exchanged our farewells as Andrew quickly needed to run off to his photography gig. No rest for the wicked, of course –
And of course. That’s the price of popularity. I won’t ever hold it against him. And he is really great at what he does.
And so he disappeared into the humid afternoon light, right behind the student who was still flailing about in enjoyment of virtual reality. I looked out through the sun-drenched windows and thought to myself “my gosh, ThinkSpace has come such a long way.”
If you’d like to get in contact with Andrew Herman, or view some samples of his work, visit his website.
Join us for the exhibition opening of ‘Nature of Design’ by Andrew Herman & the official opening of our new ThinkSpace video wall
It’s never too early to start planning your next steps after Uni.
Come along to our first Lunchtime Connections for 2019 and chat to Career Development Officer, Daniel Laurence. Daniel can help you to start planning your career, build you network, give you pro-tips to improve your employability, what to expect when starting in a new role, starting your own business or taking a gap-year or working holiday.
Daniel has worked in over 5 countries and can offer a wealth of knowledge whether you’re an international or domestic student or if you hoping to build a career in Australia or abroad.
This is an informal drop-in session so there’s no need to book. Just come along and chat to Daniel in the student kitchen on level 3 of Fisher Library from 12.00pm – 1.00pm on Wednesday 17th April.
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music Library presents PhD
candidate, Jing Cai’s research exhibition: Rising from the East: Opera in
The exhibition showcases an operatic snapshot of China
today; in particular how Chinese practitioners revive western classical operas
and invent new contemporary Chinese operas.
The exhibition will feature three key themes: reviving western operas in contemporary featuring: Turandot, Die Fledermaus, Rigoletto, Aida and Der Fliegende Holländer; Chinese New Commission – Jinsha River composed by LEI Lei; Operatic Data and the NCPA.
Between May and November 2018, the University of Sydney Library Cultural Competence Community of Practice in conjunction with the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) hosted a series of seminars examining various perspectives on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges. The seminars were presented by experts on areas including History and Language, Cultural Astronomy, Connection to Country, Visual Art, Health, and Perspectives on Gender. The video recordings of these sessions, accessible via the below links, remain a valuable resource for members of the University community wishing to wishing to learn more about the rich cultures of our First Nations peoples.
With permission, these seminars were recorded and are available here as videos.
On Friday the 16th of November, we will be joined by three esteemed guests for our sixth and final seminar in the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Knowledges Seminar Series: Perspectives on Gender – Dr Sandy O’Sullivan, Laimena ‘Wilo’ Muwadda, and Darren Budda-Deen.
Dr Sandy O’Sullivan, an Aboriginal (Wiradjuri) woman, an Associate Professor in Creative Industries at the University of the Sunshine Coast, will speak about the ways that Queer First Nations’ Peoples are re/presented in museums of national significance, and will explore their roles in resisting and challenging reductive approaches to identity.
Wilo Muwadda, a Kalkatungu man (northwestern Queensland) and Alyawarr – Eastern Arrernte (Central Australia), will talk about the research for his recently completed Masters of Social Science at University of Sydney, which he has spent years discussing with elders from these regions to understand the on local lore in relation to perspectives on gender and sexuality.
Performing for over 35 years as Doreen Maganini in Melbourne and Sydney’s drag scene, Darren Budda-Deen will share his journey from small town boy to prominent entertainer within the LGBTI community. Darren’s Aboriginal descendants are the Kamilaroi tribe whose lands extend from North West NSW to Southern Queensland.
The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Knowledges Seminar Series presents a wonderful opportunity for those wishing to learn more about the rich cultures of our First Nations peoples.
Attendance is open to all University staff and students. We encourage you to register early, as spaces are limited. Book your place here.