Creative profile – Nick Athanasiou

21 September 2023

What sets Melbourne-based creative collective Skunk Control apart from other creative studios is the diverse and somewhat unconventional backgrounds of the team. Founded in 2012 and comprising scientists, engineers, and educators, Skunk Control draws on their collective expertise and offers to create artworks that explore themes of science and technology.
At the helm, and with a doctorate in chemistry, is Nick Athanasiou.

Tell us about your background and career to date?

I’m the founder and director/creative director of Skunk Control, a creative studio in Melbourne’s west that was born out of a university program designed for students wishing to access first year degree courses. The program’s community-based outreach focus, its unification of the arts, science and technology and its ethos of learning through doing has informed Skunk Control.

Skunk Control create engaging and immersive experiences that provide the public with a sense of wonderment and opportunities to make delightful discoveries. Drawing on technology, art, and a mantra to create works that encourage a belief in (the concept of) as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast, our creations are informed by large dollops of colour, light and a splash of whimsy that harken back to one’s formative years of learning.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start out in your field?

Persist through the knock backs and stay grounded. If you fall, dust yourself off and get back up, knowing that it will happen again and again. Just persist and stay grounded.

What do you draw inspiration from?

The complexity of nature, looking up into the sky and blurry images.

Tell us about your Hellenic Museum installation?

Luminescence: In Our Nature is a series of 8 towering organic sculptures which use kinetic and optical technologies to create vivid colours and light effects. The installation reflects upon the ancient Greek legacy of scientific advancement through forms of local flora, so to inspire a profound sense of wonder and respect, and illuminate the importance of continuing to steward our natural world.

A grant from the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund allowed me to make kinetic advancements to the sculpture – the unfurling and closing of petals to reveal its internal eco-system.

The installation is now at the Hellenic Museum for visitors and the curious to enjoy.

Where else can we see your work at the moment?

There are a number of permanent works in the US and Singapore, and a few have popped up in Melbourne recently. The Billy Button Band at the Billy Button Children’s Centre in Footscray is one permanent work close to home and easily accessible to the public. And we have a series of works on show now in Melbourne’s CBD supported through the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund.

What are you currently working on and what do you have coming up?

Two new permanent commissions for the US are set to be installed later this year and a large hoarding installation in Melbourne’s west is currently going up.

In three words, describe Victoria’s creative community.

Resilient. Undeterred. Vibrant.

Skunk Control’s new installation, Luminescence: In Our Nature, is on show at the Hellenic Museum until November 2023, entry is free.

Luminescence: In Our Nature is supported through the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund – a $200 million partnership of the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne.