Pamela Kleemann-Passi
Photographer & Visual Artist

St Vincent’s Residency


In 2012, Kleemann undertook a year long Artist-in-Residency at the Caritas Christi Hospice, part of Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Public Hospital.

The residency was in collaboration with photo media artist Carolyn Lewens, renowned for her exquisite cyanotype photograms. Drawing on their individual approaches to art making, themes of healing, renewal and regeneration were explored. Their aim in creating new bodies of work was to create beauty from what is normally reviled, in order to shift the perception of disease and illness.

For Kleemann, skin has been a continual source of fascination and attraction. It is a powerful signifier of race, class, health and wellbeing. Within skin colour and texture there is a whole range of marks, blemishes, textures, and nuances. Having had the rare skin disease Linear IgA Dermatosis, she was struck by the poetic, but ironic language used to describe the patterns and shapes of the ghastly, seeping lesions – ‘string of beads’, ‘string of pearls’, ‘cluster of jewels’ – language normally associated with beautiful, precious objects of adornment.

The body has a remarkable ability to heal itself when injured or diseased, and in undertaking the residency, Kleemann and Lewens wished to celebrate this, and show that opposite the darkness of illness, there is a lightness of being which can be imbued with beauty and wonderment.

The Her Suit series and Hairline: Epidermal eSCARpment were developed as part of the residency. Collaboration was the ‘skin’ between Kleemann and Lewens, the membrane of separation, which was also their medium of connection. While skin is a vulnerable, often unreliable, boundary between inner and outer worlds, material surfaces were the bond in this project – the skin of things, of the body and of art.

Medical imaging and art making are coded languages. Through technological innovation and creativity, their different approaches build new knowledge and offer fresh perspectives for understanding biology and bodily processes. During the residency, Kleemann and Lewens worked with Associate Professor Damian Myers at St Vincent’s, who provided beautiful, intriguing images made with a confocal microscope, an optical imaging system using laser scanning to build up the image point by point to increase contrast and resolution. These images allowed them to visualise and re-imagine the body’s unfamiliar visceral inner environment, bringing it out into the open, uncovering its chaos, complexity and strange beauty.

Media & Dimensions:

Her Suit 1-3 Laser prints on vinyl, human hair, metal rods, plastic clips; each panel 80 x 50 cms

Hairline: Epidermal eSCARpment Digital image on wallpaper, human hair, metal thread 30 x 30 cms

Turning Over Bone #2 Digital images on etched glass; each slide 30 x 10 cms

Inside Out Digital image 45 x 50 cms

Reconstruction #1 Cat Dreaming & Reconstruction #2 On Blonde, Digital images on wall-paper, human hair, cat whiskers 30 x 30 cms


Artists collaborate with researchers to create bold and vivid art piece, The Font (Scroll down to page 8)

2013 – Inside Out, Art in Science/Science in Art Award Exhibition, St Vincent’s Public Hospital Art Gallery, Melbourne Australia

2013 – Turning Over Bone #2, Linden Postcard Show, Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne Australia

2012 – Her Suit + Hairline, The Light Gallery, Centre for Creative Photography, Adelaide, South Australia

2012 – Reconstruction #1 Cat Dreaming & Reconstruction #2 On Blonde, The Linden Postcard Show, Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne Australia

All works copyright the Artists 2012-13