Sunflower combines art and science at Lismore festival

FOR ARTS SAKE: Dr Barry Hill from Southern Cross University shows off the SCU Sunflower at the Arts vs Science Festival yesterday.
FOR ARTS SAKE: Dr Barry Hill from Southern Cross University shows off the SCU Sunflower at the Arts vs Science Festival yesterday. Luke Mortimer

THE prototype SCU Sunflower mobile solar system was just one of many exhibits and activities at Lismore's Arts vs Science Festival yesterday.

The Lismore City Hall event featured a variety of artistic, environmental and science-based talks, workshops and a rocking soundtrack presented by a variety of live musicians.

Popular attractions included a catchment model of Lismore, which kids had fun splashing around in, the School Art Competition, hip hop workshop and Plants Under the Microscope.

Clearly a popular event with families, Art vs Science was highly rated by a number of visitors and excited kids were often keeping mum and dad on their toes as they dashed between various activities.

Southern Cross University senior lecturer in contemporary music, Dr Barry Hill, said the SCU Sunflower, built by the School of Arts and Social Sciences, drew strong crowds to its pride-of-place position at the festival's entrance.

He said the compact Sunflower solar array had already been used to power a stage at Byron Bay Bluesfest this year and, in coming years, could likely power an average home.

According to the university, the primarily Australian-made Sunflower, which has a 1.2kw solar panel array and a lithium battery bank, was developed to promote a "think green" ethos within the Australian music industry.

Dr Hill hoped the Arts vs Science Festival and the Sunflower would inspire better collaboration between artistic and scientific fields.

"I suppose this is really just a learning experience about solar energy. People can check it out, understand how it works and get a sense of the current capabilities of solar energy," he said.

"It can also give people a chance to see how solar might be better integrated into our life in the future.

"I suppose one of the things this project is trying to show is that its capabilities are improving rapidly, expanding rapidly, and due to the commercial nature of the energy business, some people really don't like to see that happen."

Dr Hill said the Sunflower was built for about $35,000 without labour, but because it's a prototype, future models will likely be built cheaper.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell was spotted amongst the crowd enjoying the festivities.

She was impressed by the festival's organisation and, like many in attendance, was pleased to see outdoor activities spared by a break in the rain.

Topics:  art vs science

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