Can art change the brain?

Art and Neuroplasticity

What impact does art have on the brain? The answer is - a huge amount. I had the honour to host a conversation in front of 700+ people at the University of Sydney last week as part of their Innovation Week. On the panel were neuroscientists, artists and philanthropists all discussing why creativity is beneficial for humanity.  

Read the article detailing the key takeaways and listen to the full podcast! 

Speakers: Associate Professor Elizabeth Scott, Professor Sharon Naismith, Gill Nicol, Bernadette Harvey, Samantha Meers AO


Fenella KerneboneComment
Hacking the Red Circle - Interview with Fenella

I had a great conversation with Mark Sylvester, host of the podcast Hacking the Red Circle recently and it's now online. The podcast is created for and about TEDx Organisers and the TEDx Universe and features interviews with TEDx organisers from around the world. 

In the interview, Mark asked me to unravel the process that we go through in putting together the program for TEDxSydney, including tips on how we prepare our speakers for their talk.  

You can hear the interview and read the blog here and if you want to come along to TEDxSydney 2018, on 15t June - you can find our more info here

Fenella KerneboneComment
Be in the audience at TEDxYouth@Sydney 2017

I've been swimming in TEDx talks since I started in the role of Head of Curatorial - and it's not a bad place to be, trust me, but I am particularly excited about our next event - TEDxYouth@Sydney on Wednesday 6th September at Sydney Town Hall.

The last few years, TEDxYouth@Sydney has always run simultaneously as the main event, but not this year. It's going to be a great day of ideas and you don't need to be young to go either!

All are exploring the theme #shiftingthefuture and the lineup of speakers includes:
- Nick Molnar – entrepreneur and founder of fintech company, Afterpay.
- Anastasia Volkova – from start-up, FluroSat, monitoring farms using drones and satellites in five states in Australia.
- Macinley Butson – a seriously talented 16-year-old inventor
Maria Tran – martial artist, actor, filmmaker and screen fight coordinator has kicked many asses in international action movies including legend Roger Corman’s Fist of the Dragon
- Chris Leben with special guest Lee Lin Chin - the creative team behind SBS presenter Lee Lin Chin’s comedic alter ego and viral smash.

Check out the full lineup and see what sessions speakers are appearing and grab a ticket!

PS: Lee Lin Chin is going to be on stage! Nuff said. 

TEDxSydney Salon, September 2016

The first TedxSydney Salon is taking place on 22nd September and we are very excited to bring to the stage these four fab speakers talking on the theme of sustainability. Below is the blurb!

Launching our New Event Series, TEDxSydney Salons – Tickets On Sale Now

One of the most frequently asked questions we hear from the TEDxSydney community is ‘how can we get together more often?’.  We’ve heeded the call and we’re delighted to announce the launch of our new TEDxSydney Salons – a series of intimate events held across the year, combining talks, films, music and more, presented by Toyota Prius.

Our inaugural Salon focuses on the theme of sustainability and takes place on Thursday 22 September 2016 at a very special location – the top floor of Tower Two, International Towers at Barangaroo, home to a unique sustainable development plan and, of course, a sensational new view of the city.

The lineup includes recycling expert Garth Lamb, who seeks to inspire us to take smarter approaches to recover and reuse materials; 2016 TEDxSydney alumni speaker Clara Vuletich talks more about her work in the sustainable fashion space and how we can engage with ethical fashion; ant ecologist and science communicator, Kirsti Abbott looks at our literal relationship with the little things beneath our feet; and Nij Lal talks about the science of solar, and the future of sunshine. Our program also includes films and music and a chance for us all to get together after the event to discuss, share and inspire.

Tickets for the first TEDxSydney Salon are available now, via the link below.

TEDxSydney Salon #1 – On Sustainability
Thursday 22 September 2016, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
North Lobby, Tower Two, International Towers, 200 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo

Fenella KerneboneComment
A Night of Disruptive Ideas @ Vivid

I was very fortunate to host and moderate an incredible evening last Saturday as part of Vivid Ideas and in support of the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.  The two panels explored the creative mind and the future of creativity. Was excellent to have neurosurgeon and founder of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, Professor Charlie Teo on both panels as well as late entry, fresh from his TedxSydney appearance, Dr Jordan Nguyen. Full list of speakers below. @braincancer_au #curebraincancer @indeedau

Here are a few photos.   A Night of Disruptive Ideas brought to you by Indeed - The Future of Creativity - Panel 2.jpg

A Night of Disruptive Ideas brought to you by Indeed - The Future of Creativity - Panel 1.jpgA Night of Disruptive Ideas brought to you by Indeed - The Creative Mind - Panel 1.jpg


  • Professor Charlie Teo - Neurosurgeon and Founder of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation
  • Dr Tim Rayner - Philosopher and writer
  • Ninotschka Titchkosky - Principal and Studio Director at BVN Architecture
  • Dr Ben Ferris - Co-founder and Artistic Director of the Sydney Film School


  • Professor Charlie Teo
  • Catherine Stace - CEO of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation
  • Dr Jordan Nguyen - Biomedical Engineer and TV Presenter 
  • Dr Alex Klat-Smith - Partner at PwC The Difference
  • Tane Hunter - Bioinformatician and cancer researcher at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Co-Founder of Future Crunch
  • Dr Angus Hervey - Manger of Random Hacks of Kindness Australia and Co-Founder of Future Crunch
  • Andrèz Coco - Service Design Lead at Qantas Loyalty (Innovationlab)
In conversation with photographer Katrin Koenning

Meeting up with Melbourne-based artist Katrin Koenning this afternoon to learn about her new photographic series, The Crossing, currently showing at the Australian Centre for Photography as part of the group show Transfer (16 April - 15 May). "The Crossing is concerned with the human impact on ecology. As short-term economic growth continues to take precedent over ongoing environmental and wildlife concerns, Koenning reflects on nature’s current state of uncertainty through her poetical and ethereal imagery".

Katrin also has a fair few Instagram followers - incredible feed.

30th April, 2pm at ACP, Sydney  Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 10.01.38 am

Growing Food in Small Spaces

Have a look at a sweet snippet of this great event I hosted last week - General Thinking on The Streets of Barangaroo ... held at The Canteen on Thursday 29 October 2015. It's a one minute taste and features Indira Naidoo, Nick Dwyer and Sacha Coles. The first in a series of monthly events (talks, conversations, debates, etc) [youtube]

Remo Giuffré is the Director; Jess Miller is the Curator and Project Manager; and Fenella Kernebone is its host.

EventFenella Kernebone
Shelter Hacks: What makes a good home?

What makes a good home? How can architecture create communities? Can the sharing economy provide new models for housing? Exploring all things "shelter" in a panel conversation this Wednesday at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in Sydney.  On the panel -  Timothy Horton, Registrar, NSW Architects Registration Board + Hugo Moline & Heidi Axelsen, architecture-artist duo, creators of Owner Occupy.  "Drawing on themes of shelter, ownership and flexibility in Owner Occupy, an installation by Hugo Moline and Heidi Axelsen for Fugitive Structures 2015, this forum will focus on how shelter, in all its variety, relates to society and human nature".

Wednesday 16 September, 2015 6–8 pm for a 6:30 pm start.

at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation 16-20 Goodhope Street Paddington NSW 2021


The Robotic Revolution in Architecture and Design

Hosting a panel this Saturday at Sydney University, presented by the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning as part of the Fabricating Futures Exhibition for Sydney Design Week 2015.

Here are the details:

The panel discussion will explore the challenges and developments surrounding robotic integration into architecture, art and design, focusing on the advances in real time sensor feedback, and social and human-robotic interaction.

The Robotic Revolution in Architecture and Design begins the discourse surrounding robotic fabrication and creative robotics in preparation for the RoblArch2016 conference themed 'Trajectories' hosted by the University of Sydney in March 2016.

Moderated by Fenella Kernebone, the forum will feature leading robotics experts from architecture, design, fabrication and creative robotics.


Marjo Niemelä, Manager DMaF Lab in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney and Rob|Arch 2016 Conference Workshop Chair

Professor Jon McCormack, Director of sensiLab at Monash University, and electronic media artist and computer science researcher

Dr Dagmar Reinhardt, Program Director of the BAE and Studio Leader of the Master of Digital Architecture Research at the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, the University of Sydney, and ROB|ARCH2016 conference Co-Chair

Dr M Hank Hauessler, Senior Lecturer and Discipline Director of Computational Design (CoDe) at UNSW

SATURDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 2015 4pm - 7pm Architecture Lecture Theatre 1, Level 2, Wilkinson Building, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, The University of Sydney, 148 City Rd, Darlington.

Arrive at 4pm for drinks and nibbles. The discussion starts at 4.30pm and will be followed by drinks served by Botbar, our cocktail making robot, in the Design Modelling and Fabrication Lab (DMaF Lab) Level 1, Wilkinson Building.


One weekend isn't long enough! Underbelly Arts Festival 2015

It doesn't matter how many times I take the ferry across to Cockatoo Island, I am still in awe of the place. I love the rusty romance and uneven floors. Industrial heritage sites are charming at the best of times, but particularly if you have a tendency to love a little ruin porn, all hulking buildings and decaying paint. So as a location for the Underbelly Arts Festival, which positions itself as a festival about discovery, it is perfect. Underbelly this past weekend, cohesively and in many cases dramatically occupied a large number of spaces, while keeping its audience connected. I'm not sure whether running out of food on the opening night is a sign of success, but let's pretend it does mean that. The festival is about providing a range of bold contemporary art experiences and includes performance, video work, sound work, installation and immersive art, which in some cases is on a massive scale. It's a huge undertaking for one weekend.

I wanted to highlight three works that I was struck by, but there were many.

1. City Circle Arrives at Cloud Heaven by Thom and Angelmouse -  an immersive three - channel video installation, featuring a series of images of people that they collected from magazines "animated to look and behave like trains". A wonderfully weird, intriguing and strangely meditative work.


2. Soft Concrete - Lucy Phelan. This sound work was installed in a round concrete bunker with incredible acoustics. Lucy Phelan (aka Lucy Cliche) took recordings from around Cockatoo Island which she then bounced off the walls. The result was both "harsh and serene". Amazing.


3.  The Becalmed Heart - Brienna Macnish with collaborators Clare McCracken, Robert Jordan and Christopher Page. It's probably dull to focus on the magnitude of this work, but it's hard not to. The effort that went into its construction is profound and as a result it had an impact like no other. I wanted more time in there - it was calm and shocking. Set to a score, The Becalmed Heart is an large scale immersive environment, constructed out of plastic bags. The audience begins a "tour" in absolute darkness, before being led through a series of tunnels, rooms and caves, past stalactites and stalagmites - all sculpted from plastic bags.  It is a powerful reflection on consumption, mass consumerism and our impact on environment. A strong, vivid comment about our relationship with nature and the impact of climate change, executed in the most brutally beautiful way.

Becalmed Heart

Congratulations to all the folks who worked on and Artistic Director, Eliza Sarlos. Good one!

Underbelly Arts Festival 

Having an episode ... trackwork update

I posted the 5th episode of the podcast, Trackwork this morning featuring the Sydney duo, Fishing.

Thoughts so far:

1. It's taking a little bit longer than expected each episode - but this is all good.

2. It's a fun thing to do post spending many years hosting shows on Triple J ... a purely creative project (ie making zero money!)

3. Sponsorship would be nice. Anyone?

4. I need to buy a camera. iPhone pics do not cut it.

5. It's a fun thing to do. Oh I said that already. But it is!

Subscribe on  iTunes and rate / review / rate review and rate review please if you would be so kind. 




Trackwork - the podcast

I launched a podcast this morning after much hand wringing and audio checking, called Trackwork. It's a simple idea and an idea I have had thinking about following up on for a few years. I love hearing artists speak about their process and I know from the many moons I hosted The Sound Lab on Triple J, how hard producers work to ensure their tracks sound just right. In the podcast and in each episode I invite one guest, one artist to play a series of stems or samples from their tracks and describe the stories and the ideas that led to their decisions. It's a podcast about the building blocks of any track, particularly if you're working in the electronic field. This can include how an artist develops and builds the percussive elements; to how an artist dreams up a bass line and the kinds of equipment they may use; through to the samples that have been chosen, tweaked and twisted to create something truly unique. Trackwork is a chance to open up a conversation each episode with a clever Australian producer and to get into their heads and hear about their creative process.

I also like the idea that it is a not a podcast predicated on the now ... it's not about the new release cycle, which can be restrictive. So I am very keen to meet a few artists that I suspect many of my peers may fondly remember and who may not even be producing music any more. Of course this does depend on whether they have access to the stems - which could be hidden on some archaic hard drive or even an old school floppy disc. That would be difficult I suspect. Maybe there is a way around this - I'll work it out.

So that is the essence of Trackwork. A podcast about music. A podcast about Australian music. If you are so inclined - please subscribe to the podcast via Itunes or through any other podcast player apps that you use!

Also while I have done segments like this on the radio on Triple J's Sound Lab back in the day, there's also a fabulous podcast called Song Exploder that you should totally check out as well. It's pretty inspirational.

The first episode is up today - featuring Anomie  and next episode is with the excellent Caitlin Park.

Feel free to hit me up here or use the contact form on if you would like to get in touch.



Oversharing in the Digital Dark Age

What are the ramifications of a ‘digital dark age’ if decades of digital files are lost or unreadable, as was recently warned by internet pioneer Vint Cerf. Would it be a loss or a blessing? Benjamin Law (writer), Claire Reilly (tech editor, CNET) and Dr Lisa Murray (city historian at the City of Sydney Council) on stage at the Art Gallery of NSW as part of Point Click Chat. Here's a link to last week's chat: Next up - that is tonight 20th May 7pm! it's all about Oversharing. Tom Ballard, Sarah-Jane Kurtini (Tiny Beans Co-Founder) and Catharine Lumby share all. oversharing

Point Click Chat

Kernebone_Fenella_15_05_13_770x314px.jpg.770x314_q85_crop In the era of selfies, cat memes and foodiegrams, we increasingly see the world through the photos we take, but how do photographs change the way we see ourselves?

Fenella Kernebone hosts a three-part chat show that asks how we define our identities and culture through the images we make. Each week Fenella will ask the audience to share their opinions in a lively debate about how photography helped to make us, us.

What can we learn about the ‘Australian way’ from the photos we post? What are the perils of oversharing? And what would be the ramifications of a ‘digital dark age’ in which decades of digital files are lost or become unreadable?

Joining Fenella to get the conversation flowing will be panelists including artists, photographers, comedians, historians, geeks, musicians and architects. Of course, we encourage you to speak up, tweet along and Instagram away, because as we all know: if there’s no pic, it didn’t happen.

Digital dark age - Wednesday 14th May - 7pm

With Benjamin Law (writer), Claire Reilly (tech editor, CNET) and Dr Lisa Murray (city historian at the City of Sydney Council)

Oversharing - Wednesday 20th May - 7pm

With Tom Ballard (comedian), Sarah-Jane Kurtini (Tiny Beans co-founder) and Professor Catharine Lumby (media commentator)

Truth, beauty and the way of things - - Wednesday 27th May - 7pm

With Myf Warhurst (TV presenter, broadcaster and writer), David Hunt (historian and author) and Alison Page (interior designer and filmmaker)

Favourite albums for 2014

Running a little early this year, as The Sound Lab kicked off the week of best of lists on Triple J, but here are my favourite albums for 2014. You can read the original post on the Triple J website  but here is it - in full with plenty of links and music. In this case my list comprises a few albums that I have listened to constantly, a few artists I respect deeply and a few others that crept in at the last minute.

And yes - it is my final Sound Lab list for what is my final Sound Lab year after 11 beautiful years of playing all kinds of music that I love and worship on Triple J - I'll write more about this later.

  • #10

    FuFa Music

    Volume 1

    FuFa is a compilation dedicated to beats and bass (Sydney artists in this case) put together by FBI radio show, Future Face. Artists include Elbee, Jozz Scott, Ben At Work, Monk Fly, Option CommandRoleo and Anomie who gets a special mention for her excellent 2014 album, Permanent Revelation.

    And additional props to the other collectives who work hard to send out beautiful Australian and international beats including the good people of Free The Beats and Uncomfortable Beats.

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Clean Dirt

A restless, noodly and lovingly produced album from Melbourne producer, 0Point1 aka Bob Streckfuss. It's his debut album and it's a lovingly crafted series of intricate compositions comprised of samples from around the house, vocals and a lot of talent. When I interviewed him this year, it was apparent he was quite shy and the delicate nature of the music somewhat reflects this. I love it when a quiet release creeps up on you and you find yourself returning to it time and time again. And like so much great music I’ve loved on the Sound Lab over the years – you can grab this for free or for a donation (go on give $). It’s really good. Gets my vote. Here’s the link.

[soundcloud url=""]





Clark has been kicking around the UK electronic scene for a good while and his latest is once again released on UK label, Warp. I've always had a fondness for his production approach, which is imaginative, dense, textured, sometimes unsettling, gothic and with a hint of the vintage Boards of Canada-esque treatment in some moments, but louder, way louder. With this album, he also asks you flip off the shoes and get moving on a wobbly techno dancefloor. Unfurla is rips through you like a freight train while The Grit in the Pearl build and builds till you’re in the clouds. Any more superlatives I can think of … I’m on team Clark.

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Andy Stott

Faith in Strangers

A late entry this year and I may still be wrapping my ears around this one, but I have faith, Faith in Strangers that is. Andy Stott is from Manchester and I am a big fan of his previous spaced out album, Luxury Problems. Whispy, intense, sparse, fab hooks are allowed to disintegrate into a wall of intensity. Stott doesn't ever let you settle in and put on your trackies - and that is what makes it so good. Continuing to push the edges of electronica.

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The Worry

Gotta love Seekae. The trio's talent was immediately obvious with their first album The Sound of Trees Falling on People and they cemented it with +Dome's bouncy instrumental joy. And while some were initially a little worried about the new album, with the introduction of vocals, any trepidation is out the window. Another strong, forward thinking album from one of my long time favourite acts.

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Dear Arca, how do you do it? You gave Kanye West more cred on Yeezus, helped FKA Twigs on her sensational album and you're also giving Bjork a hand on her upcoming release. You're also 24 and amongst all of this, have also released an album that I want to eat. Xen defies anything you would imagine, a series of shuffling beats, bass heavy moments, experimental meanderings and it's so very, very good. I cannot wait to hear what he does next.

The video for Thievery is something to behold ...




Ben Frost


Australian musician /composer Ben Frost made a smart move to Iceland many years ago and each of his new releases is something of a revelation. His latest, is a tantalising mix - heavy, melodic, industrial and even a little theatrical. It was written mostly on his laptop while Frost was travelling in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the result is intense, rhythmic, mechanical and expressive. The percussion on tracks like Venter reverberate – underscored by an eerie undercurrent monster of a melody that eventually takes its place in one massive crescendo. Give it time – allow it to seep into your brain and echo in your chest. Turn it up loud and say hi to the neighbours.

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The self-titled debut from Kiasmos is a breathtaking melding of strings, minimalist and experimental compositions and beats. It is simply beautiful. Put it on to go to sleep, put it on to get yourself ready to go out - it succeeds on all levels. Featuring one of my favourite minimalist composers, BAFTA winning Olafur Arnalds and fellow Icelandic artist, Janus Rasmussen (from Bloodgroup). The release connects the space between Arnalds' minimalist piano and string solo compositions and Rasmussen's electronic sensibilities. Put it all together and you have an intoxicating combination.

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Aphex Twin


His reputation as a mind blowing electronic artist is so grand that it would have been sacrilegious not to include Aphex Twin’s album, Syro in my top ten for 2014. Thank f*#k it’s brilliant. Should it have been number one – well yes and no … it’s superb that’s all I need to say. The fact remains that his sound is his own and it has for me an air of timelessness about it. Each track is a unique code, perfectly arranged patterns of sound. Whether its skittering juicy synths, basslines that take you to the moon and back, vamped up acid or gentle piano. And on this note I will forever thank Aphex Twin for transforming my musical tastes when I was a lass and for still remaining relevant and curious with this new record.

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Our Love

An overwhelmingly positive album from Caribou aka Dan Snaith. It's his sixth studio album and the first in four years as Caribou after a slew of releases exploring his dance music chops under the moniker Daphni. Not surprisingly then, Our Love shifts his sound to take in the dancefloor and a little hip hop R&B influence too. It's an album that shows off Snaith's beautiful, skilled and warm approach to production. It's fun, it's optimistic and it's full of love. I love Our Love - it's a little grower.

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And here's a list of other artists whose releases could have just as easily be in there from this year: Martyn, Rat&Co, Raz Ohara, Fatima Al Qadiri, Copeland, Anomie, Elbee, Submerse, Wen, Untold, Plaid, Zammuto, Lee Gamble, Teebs, Illum Sphere, Lawrence English, Porter Robinson, FKA Twigs, Flying Lotus, Dylan Michel, Dorian Concept, Broken Chip, Lukid, Dabro, Drox, Machinedrum, Lucian Blomkamp, Loops Haunt, Slamagotchi, Lee Gamble, SHXCXCHCXSH, Plastikman, The Bug, Mannheim Rocket, VHS Head, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Lorn, Super Magic Hats, Aeriae and a personal favourite that’s a little off the brief is Banks.


Australian Design Alliance presents: Beijing Design Week: The Australian Experience

I'm hosting a discussion with the representatives of the inaugural Australian delegation to Beijing Design Week 2014 about the opportunities for Australian designers in China. How does Beijing Design Week compare to Milan Furniture Fair and other global events and what opportunities are there for Australian designers?

On the panel:

Oliver Kratzer, Chair Australian Design Alliance Brandon Gien, CEO Good Design Australia Ian Wong, Design Institute of Australia

It's Tuesday 28th October at 5:00pm to 7:00pm click here for details.

Golden Age Cinema and Bar, 80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills


EventFenella Kernebone
Massive Attack J Files on Double J

One of the most celebrated acts in the history of electronic music is British act Massive Attack. When I was a teen their first two albums were close friends of mine, so it was a great pleasure to host the Massive Attack J Files on Double J. Big night - plenty of stories and all of that fabulous music.

There's a full article with vids and links on Double J's website and you can hear the show on the Double J Soundcloud

Design Excellence 2014 - Sydney's Cultural Jigsaw

Tomorrow night I am MC at City of Sydney’s Design Excellence forum on cultural precincts and how they can shape our city. There's a huge investment in cultural precincts worldwide and Sydney's cultural institutions are also planning on major capital development programs - to draw in new visitors and connect the spaces. What sort of planning approaches work (and what won't work) and can Sydney's institutions bring the love and work together? So many questions. So many questions. If you're in town - grab a ticket (it's free!): Here's who is speaking:

WELCOME Lord Mayor Clover Moore

KEYNOTE SPEAKER Adrian Ellis, Director, Global Cultural Districts Network

PRESENTERS Dr Michael Brand, Director, Art Gallery of NSW Rose Hiscock, Director, Powerhouse Museum Dr Alex Byrne, NSW State Librarian and Chief Executive, State Library of NSW

DISCUSSION PANEL Bruce Baird AM, Chairman, Tourism and Transport Forum and Board Member, Sydney Theatre Company Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Malcolm Snow, Chief Executive, National Capital Authority Professor Peter Tregear, Head of the School of Music, Australian National University