Artists in Residence

Jess Coldrey calibrating the robotic arm.

Yarra Ranges Tech School (YRTS) has announced the launch of its innovative Artist in Residence Program. The inaugural artist, John Monash Scholar Jess Coldrey, developed her Retro Futurism project using the YRTS’ state of the art technology.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Education James Merlino opened YRTS in 2017 as a high-tech learning hub for the Yarra Ranges Community. Its mix of general purpose and specialised spaces, highly skilled and experienced facilitators coupled with state of the art technology including virtual reality, robotics, precision manufacturing and electronics. This allows YRTS to deliver real-world, challenge based programs for students, introducing them to the skills and career pathways they will need into the future.

For the current artist in residence, Jess Coldrey, the UR5 robotic arm captured her interest. She said, “This residency gave me the opportunity to use the universal robot and realise my dream of using it to choreograph interactions with humans.”

YRTS is passionate about expanding access to STEAM. Director Ashley Van Krieken said, “It’s important that students gain exposure to technology, processes and skills demanded by industry in addition to appreciating the multi-disciplinary approach to create innovative solutions to challenges.

“Demonstrating the link between STEM topics and equipment and the Humanities Arts and Social Sciences is a key aspect of YRTS programs promoting inclusion for all students regardless of their level of knowledge in technology.

“YRTS’ partnerships with industry and community and the support of Box Hill Institute ensure that we deliver programs in the area of horticulture, sustainability, robotics and digital design that achieve these aims,” he said.

Ms Coldrey hopes her project will inspire other young people to use STEM creatively.

“It can be very intimidating learning about technology and engineering as a young person. I hope that students seeing my studio work will be intrigued about how they can apply their skills in a fun, out of the box way,” she said.

Inclusion is an important goal, especially for young women, who currently represent less than a quarter of national STEM enrolments. Furthermore, in a post-COVID environment, many believe that creativity will be essential in rebuilding Australia’s STEM industry.

Ms Coldrey’s work will be exhibited throughout the YRTS, open to the public from 14 July. She believes that her artwork will help people consider their relationships with technology and the stories that create their experiences.

The YRTS residency program will continue to provide opportunities for artists from around Australia to create innovative art-tech projects from the school labs.

“Yarra Ranges Tech School strives to be a lighthouse in the development of creative and innovative programs, which expand access to young people with diverse interests and backgrounds, and we hope that our Artist in Residence program exemplifies that,” said Mr Van Krieken.