Artist Elizabeth Willing, 2019 ANAT AWRI (Australian Wine Research Institute) Resident, during Taste Testing. Photograph courtesy ANAT.

Artist Elizabeth Willing, 2019 ANAT AWRI (Australian Wine Research Institute) resident, during taste testing. Photograph courtesy ANAT.

Art, wine and synesthesia :: ANAT AWRI resident Elizabeth Willing

In 2019, ANAT and the AWRI (Australian Wine Research Institute) formed a partnership building upon ANAT’s Synapse residency program that supports research collaborations between artists and scientists. The ANAT AWRI residency offered an artist the opportunity to work with the Institute’s Flavour Chemistry and Sensory Research teams.

2019 ANAT AWRI resident artist Elizabeth Willing, explored the synaesthetic harmony between the flavour of wines and the visual aesthetics of still and moving image, “asking how can individual wines be represented through the visual?”

Elizabeth proposed “if a visual image can be developed to match a wine, perhaps some of those subtleties within wine that I have been hearing about can come alive to the non-connoisseur. And then also we could have an image that represents what is in the bottle, a visual embodiment of flavour, not just what the winemaker wants us to feel through their style of branding.”

The residency resulted in fascinating visual artworks relating to specific red wines. During a series of tests with professional wine judges, trained tasters, and just regular wine drinkers the wines were assessed for preference with the matching or non-matching artwork present, to better understand how the wine consumption experience can be enhanced through the setting.

In preparing the study Elizabeth was intrigued by  the conflation of scientific and creative approaches. “I do not believe these two investigative approaches to be completely opposed, so much as having different processes”. Adding she’s been “ fortunate, no privileged, to work in a team who continues to remind “ her “that they are happy for the project to err on the creative side, putting aside the need for watertight scientific rigour.”

The art pieces produced will be incorporated into an exhibition, and the results of the sensory testing will be summarised in publications shortly. Elizabeth has also created graphics for disseminating research outcomes in her time at the AWRI, including a visualisation of the grapevine seasonal cycle.

Elizabeth Willing is a Brisbane based visual artist. She completed her honours in Fine Arts (Visual Arts) and in 2019 completed a Masters of Fine Art (research) at Queensland University of Technology. Recipient of the Australia Council Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Elizabeth has undertaken residencies at Helsinki International Art Program HIAP, New England Regional Art Museum Armidale and Metro Arts Brisbane. Exhibitions and concept meals have been held in Australia and overseas at Tolarno Galleries Melbourne, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin, Trapholt Museum of Art and Design Denmark, and Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane.

For more information see Elizabeth’s blog