Kristin Headlam’s exhibition The universe looks down derives from a University commission of a suite of etchings by Kristin in response to the long narrative poem of the same name by eminent Australian poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe.

As part of this major commission, the University Library acquired the sketchbooks, preliminary drawings and watercolours which evidence the conceptual development of the 64 etchings in the completed suite. These exploratory images, as well as the completed fine prints give a rare glimpse into the creative process Kristin entered into to complete this unique collaboration.

23 August – 17 February 2019
Noel Shaw GalleryBaillieu Library
University of Melbourne

Public Programs

Artist's floor talk by Kristin Headlam
Wednesday 29 August, 12.00 – 1.00pm
Leigh Scott Room, level 1, Baillieu Library

Join Kristin as she provides a tour of the exhibition and speaks about her creative process in responding to the poem The Universe Looks Down which in her words, ‘plays with the story-telling of medieval romances, adventures, landscapes and marvels’


Emeritus Professor Chris Wallace Crabbe will discuss the genesis of his long-form poem, The universe looks down
Wednesday 17 October, 12.00 – 1.00pm
Leigh Scott Room, level 1, Baillieu Library

Emeritus Professor Chris Wallace-Crabbe will discuss the genesis of this long-form poem, The universe looks down. Published in 2005, the poem has been described by Professor Wallace-Crabbe as a ‘quest’ and a ‘difficult and zany epic’, reflecting how people behave when they are thrown together on a journey encountering love, violence, or loss. As Chris has said, ‘a quest, like a life, contains different kinds of people, naive, comic, and villainous … all these kinds of people who are held together by a story, in a story, for a story’.

Hear Professor Wallace-Crabbe as he takes us through this monumental literary work.


Scholar and poet, Lisa Gorton will discuss the collaboration between artist and poet
Wednesday 14 November, 12.00 – 1.00pm
Leigh Scott Room, level 1, Baillieu Library

Scholar and poet, essayist and critic, Lisa Gorton will discuss the relationship between artist and poem inherent in The universe looks down. As she has said ‘Headlam has used the poem as a device for stepping back from her waiting canvas’.

Lisa Gorton’s first poetry collection Press Release won the Victorian Premier’s Award for Poetry; her second, Hotel Hyperion, was awarded the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal. She is the author of the novel The Life of Houses, published by Giramondo.