Dr Sarah-Jane Pell

Dr. Sarah Jane Pell

Where did you grow up/study in Australia?
I was born in Melbourne but grew up in regional areas of Victoria. At the age of 18, I returned to Melbourne to study at the Victorian College of the Arts. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art (Drawing) and a Deans Art Award for Mixed Media. I saw drawing as the residual artefact of performance, and enrolled in a Masters of Arts (Human Performance) nestled in the College of Movement and Exercise Science at Victoria University of Technology. Creative expression and science entwined, and I have worked within this nexus ever since. My PhD titled 'Aquabatics as new works of Live Art' submitted to Edith Cowan University, was awarded the Best PhD Art & Science, 2007 from Leonardo LABS, MIT. I became the first artist to graduate from the International Space University, France and undertook further graduate studies at the Singularity University, NASA Ames Campus. In 2016, I graduated from the Polar Suborbital Science Upper Mesosphere [PoSSUM] Project, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: thus qualifying as the first Australian woman Astronaut Candidate.

Where are some of the interesting places you have lived around the world?
Strasbourg, Sardinia, Strahan, Snake Valley, Subiaco, and Silicon Valley. There is a distinct "S" theme.

Where are you currently living?

What do you do?
Artist-Astronaut and Aquatic-Researcher: Design interactive and prototype systems for creative expression during extreme performance expeditions from sea, to summit, to space.

What's a hidden secret of your city?
Water transit systems.

What's your favourite cafe/bar/restaurant in your current city?
The Dock.

Describe your adopted hometown/current city in three words.
Agile. Active. Alive.

What do you miss most about Australia when you are overseas?
The light, the laughter and the larrikin of local people. I also miss the light and laughter in the landscape and across the flora and fauna. The angle of incidence from the sun down here at these latitudes creates a difference of diffusion through the clouds, and extenuated shadows across the land: our sense of time and identity is fundamentally connected to our relationship to this light, and the seasonal patterns from shoreline to sunset imprinted on country.