Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Irish Geological Association Lecture (hybrid): ” A perspective on Geology in Art” by Dr Bill Sheppard (Trails Creative)

25 April @ 7:00 PM 8:00 PM IST

Please note you can attend this lecture via Zoom but also in-person at Museum 4, Museum Building, Trinity College Dublin (arrive at 18:30).


Geology and Art have always been closely linked.  In the very earliest rock art, geologically sourced ochres provided the colours used.  Subsequent other geologically derived colours were used, for example, lime, kaolin, barium or oxides of zinc and lead for white; ultramarine, copper with blood or cobalt for blue.  Visual art recording was the crucial form of geological representation in the pre-photography era.  This is best illustrated in Ireland by the collection of drawings and watercolours of George Victor Du Noyer who was engaged by the Geological Survey of Ireland in the mid-1800s.  However, since the late 1800s the advancement of photography progressively reduced the reliance on artistic representation to aid geological recording and communication.

Over the last five decades in particular, there has been an incredible explosion of geological data acquisition and its interpretation and understanding.  Geologists now operate in a much more multi-dimensional realm. On Mars piles of rock samples are accumulating for future collection.  Space exploration, in particular the Hubble and Webb telescopes, are bombarding humanity with vast and wonderful volumes of data and imagery that illuminate new realities of the Universe and expand this geological realm.  Surely now is the time for geologists to engage more fully with a broad spectrum of artists.  A key aim of this would be to enable them to more-fully represent to the public the visible and invisible dimensions of our science. Dialogue between artists and geologists does enhance the perception of both. 

The talk will be a progress report on a journey encompassing i) the viewing of art works primarily in galleries visited in Ireland and Australia, ii) literature review and iii) interaction with artists.  Key relevant insights from the indigenous art of Australia will be discussed.  It will present aspects of the place of geology in art past, present and potentially in the future.  The talk will aim to encourage increased dialogue between geologists and artists.  It is hoped that discussion following this lecture will expand on what exciting outcomes can result from such dialogue.

Geological education below third level in Ireland remains weak, like in many, many countries, it remains very predominantly the reserve of college degree studies.  Why is this so when geological heritage is such a major element of our human heritage and is a key component of a sense of place?  Why generally is geological heritage under-appreciated given its significance?  Should there not be more artists-in-residence in geologically-focused organisation?  Should there not be more geologists-in-residents in art colleges? There are some signs that artistic output is becoming more geologically informed.  Surely geology and art have much to gain from increased dialogue between geologists and artists.  I look forward to a time of increased artist membership within the IGA and other similar organisations.


Bill Sheppard

Bill Sheppard completed a Ph.D. at Trinity College Dublin on the Avoca Mine (County Wicklow) in 1981. His global career in exploration and mining geology extended to over 30 countries. He undertook reporting to Stock Exchange Standards, mineral deposit studies and mentoring for many international geological teams. He had a major role in the discovery of gold systems at Cavanacaw (County Tyrone), and in North Wexford.

Operating as Trails Creative, Bill now focuses on geological outreach, trail planning and promoting biodiversity awareness in local communities. He has run Heritage Week events on bedrock, glacial geology, National Monument building stone, and goats. His geological chapter in the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society’s forthcoming publication on the heritage of East Waterford is ready for publication. Looking ahead, in addition to geo-archaeology, Bill aims to increase community awareness of geology and geological heritage and, building on the Copper Coast Geopark success, to increase the profile of Southeast Ireland as a geological tourist destination.

Date and Time: Tuesday, 25 April 2023, between 19:00 pm and 20:00 via Zoom; and also in-person at Museum 4, Museum Building, Trinity College Dublin (arrive at 18:30).

To Register: complete our registration form here (in case of problem, please send an e-mail to  info@geology.ie) 

A Zoom link will be sent on the day to those who have registered.