22 Sep 2017 — 21 Oct 2017

Glebe Library

22 Sept: 11am – 1pm

186 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe.

Parramatta Riverside Theatre Courtyards

14 Oct: 11am – 1pm

Corner market and Church Street, Parramatta.

Parramatta Exhibition Dates

12 Oct – 21 Oct

VENUE: Glebe and Parramatta

Neural Knitworks: craft a healthy brain is a collaborative art and science project exploring mind and brain health.

Neural Knitworks is based on the principle that yarn craft, with its mental challenges, social connection and mindfulness, helps keep our brains and minds sharp, engaged and healthy.

Join founding artists Pat Pillai and Rita Pearce to make textile neurons in your hands following scientifically informed patterns as you forge new neural pathways in your brains. Hear short talks from brain and mind health experts and neuroscience researchers who will also join the knit-in, giving you a chance to ask questions, share experiences and gain access to expert scientific knowledge about the mind and brain.

Have fun, learn something new and enhance your own brain health in the process! Contribute your textile creations to our Big Anxiety brain installation.

People of all ages and abilities can participate, no knitting experience is required and there will be easy no-knit patterns to follow in addition to crochet and knitting patterns.

Glebe speaker:

Dr Sarah McKay from The Neuroscience Academy and Your Brain Health who has been with NK as our neuroscience adviser since its inception.

Parramatta speaker:

Professor Adam Guastella

Supported by Inspiring Australia, HeadSpace, City of Sydney Libraries.

Artist Biography

Pat Pillai

Pat Pillai lives and works in the Sutherland Shire, NSW. She thrives on community art projects and combines simple techniques with readily available material to create collaborative sculptural installations. Her work is informed by a career in science and interest in psychology and art therapy. Pillai is the founder and project manager of Neural Knitworks: craft a healthy brain, a science/art engagement project that invites participants to craft textile neurons and find out about neuroscience. With support from Jackie Randles and Inspiring Australia, she developed the project in collaboration with textile artist Rita Pearce and a team of volunteer advisors. Hazelhurst Regional Gallery was recently awarded best community engagement program at the IMAGinE Awards, Museums and Galleries NSW for Neural Knitworks when it was first exhibited as a National Science Week project in 2014. Pillai and Pearce have since facilitated numerous Knitwork workshops, including for the Cambridge Science Festival in the UK, for the Artlands Regional Arts Conference in Dubbo, and for National Science Week launches at the Australian Museum, Sydney and QUT Library, Brisbane. Previous works:Artificial Reef, (Sculpture by the Sea, 2002), Heritable Acts, (Hazelhust 2006) participant in Sydney Hyperbolic Reef Project (2009), guest of artist Hiromi Tango in Hiromi Hotel: Moonjellies (Hazelhurst 2013). Pillai warmly acknowledges the experience gained under Tango’s mentorship

Rita Pearce

Rita Pearce lives and works in the Sutherland Shire. She is a textile artist who knits and crochets with yarn, including natural and synthetic fibers, and other materials like paper or plastic that she can spin into yarn, to make sculptures or wearable art. She has a particular interest in using her art as a way of engaging with and educating people about dementia in a non-threatening way. She collaborated with fellow artist Pat Pillai in the Neural Knitworks: craft a healthy brain project. Pillai and Pearce have facilitated numerous Knitwork workshops, the most recent include National Science Week Launches at the Australian Museum, Sydney and QUT Library, Brisbane. Previous works:Artificial Reef, (Sculpture by the Sea, 2002), Heritable Acts, (Hazelhust 2006) participant in Sydney Hyperbolic Reef Project (2009), guest of artist Hiromi Tango in Hiromi Hotel: Moonjellies (Hazelhurst 2013).

Jackie Randles

Jackie Randles manages the NSW program for Inspiring Australia, the national strategy for community engagement with science, technology and innovation. She works with community groups, universities, scientists, artists, museums and business leaders to develop initiatives that promote the importance of science and innovation to Australia’s future wellbeing and their relevance to everyday life. With a strong focus on reaching new audiences via science engagement programs delivered in community settings, Inspiring Australia has created partnerships with dozens of organisations across NSW that now collaborate as Regional Science Hubs. Jackie is a cofounder of Neural Knitworks: craft a healthy brain, This Sounds Like Science, a music and science series held at City Recital Hall in Sydney, Curious Science, monthly research talks held at City of Sydney Library and the Sydney Science Festival, created in 2015 to extend the reach of National Science Week in Sydney.

Dr Sarah McKay

Dr Sarah McKay is an increasingly influential brain health commentator, neuroscientist and TEDx speaker who specialises in translating brain science research into simple, actionable strategies for peak performance, creativity, mental health and wellbeing. Sarah is the founder of The Neuroscience Academy, which offers online learning and in-person trainings that focus on applying neuroscience, positive psychology and mind-body medicine to life and work and has been involved in Neural Knitworks as an expert adviser since the project’s inception.

Dr McKay completed a MSc and PhD in neuroscience at Oxford University in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics. She sums her PhD thesis up in four words, ‘Nature, Nurture or Neuroplasticity?’ After five years at the lab bench conducting neuroplasticity research, Sarah worked up the courage to hang up her lab coach and pursue a career teaching others about the mind and brain. She lives on the Northern Beaches in Sydney, Australia with her husband and together they are raising two little surfer dudes. Sarah writes for numerous publications and has been published extensively for the professional audience. She’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Australian Women’s Health, Daily Life, Sydney Morning Herald, Body & Soul, and has been heard and seen on SBS Insight, ABC Radio National, Balance by Deborah Hutton, and The Exchange TV and others.

Sarah has won numerous awards for her blog, in particular for supporting wellness and mental health.

Professor Adam Guastella

Professor Adam Guastella is a Clinical Psychologist and NHMRC Career Development Fellow at the Brain and Mind Centre and Central Clinical School, School of Medicine at The University of Sydney. He has an established track record in human translational neuroscience. Professor Guastella’s primary interest is in using neuroscience to inform and develop novel treatments for young patients with mental health problems. This research has led him to study the neurobiology of social behaviour and how this neurobiology relates to symptoms such as social anxiety in people presenting mental illnesses including anxiety, autism, psychosis, substance dependence. Professor Guastella also treats young patients with social anxiety. His group Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy programs have treated over 400 young people in the inner West, advancing knowledge about how humans overcome fear