The exhibition Calling Percy: Encountering Grainger through engineering and sculptural practice was held at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne in October 2016, as part of Cultural Collisions: Grainger/Griffins curated by Jonathan Mills—the university’s contribution to that year’s Melbourne Festival. The exhibition included eight artworks: six by second-year undergraduate students enrolled in the Sculpture & Spatial Practice discipline for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Art) at the university’s Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music; one made collaboratively by two fifth-year students studying Mechanical Engineering at the university’s main campus in Parkville; and a new work that I created for the show as a research outcome. Each artwork responded to musician and composer Percy Grainger’s Free Music machines, combining sonic and sculptural elements, and many with mechanical components. I taught the project over the 2016 academic year, applying a parallel pedagogical–research approach integrated into the second-year S&SP curriculum, and that also provided a fifth-year ‘capstone’ opportunity for the Mechanical Engineering students.
This paper outlines the pedagogical–research structure that facilitated this project, resulting in pedagogical and professional outcomes for eight students from two faculties, a research outcome, and a significant public exhibition that was included in two major festivals. It also outlines the evident value of such a project for both the students and the lead researcher. In doing so, this paper offers Calling Percy as a model for a pedagogical–research approach that may be relevant and useful to others developing teaching and learning projects with public exhibition outcomes.