‘Centre of the Centre’ investigates breath as the central origin of life and as a vital function that connects humans at a cellular level. The exhibition is inspired by a small mineral containing a tiny pocket of water, possibly millions of years old, which was gifted to the artist by her grandfather, renowned Australian-mineralogist, Albert Chapman. During 2018 and 2019 Mel O’Callaghan travelled to two underwater locations: the East Pacific Rise, located four kilometres deep in a submerged volcanic mountain range in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines – one of the world’s most productive and concentrated ecosystems in the world – dubbed the centre of the centre. To create this body of work, O’Callaghan has engaged some of the world’s leading scientists. Filming deep underwater in a submersible vehicle called an ‘Alvin’ with the support of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the team observed microscopic ‘extremophiles’ – organisms that thrive in extreme environmental conditions. The footage captures these organisms moving in and out of gases from simultaneously freezing ocean temperatures and superheated hydrothermal vents. O’Callaghan has translated these investigations into an immersive exhibition experience that features a large-scale video work, accompanied by glass forms that entwine a choreography of performance, breathing and sculpture.