Flotsam & Jetsam

A series of work shown as part of a group show at Post Office Projects, Port Adelaide. These works are samplers made with waste plastic on found lace handkerchiefs. I was inspired by the work of Chris Jordan who documented the plastic waste in the stomach contents of Albatross chicks on Midway Atoll. My idea for these samplers was 'what could be made from the contents of these unfortunate bird stomachs?' I cut sequin shapes from my own domestic waste plastic and use traditional embroidery techniques to apply them to the fabric. In a way, making samplers for a new medium in our new post-plastic Anthropocene era.

Bird Guts

This work is a depiction of a bird digestive tract (beak to cloaca) embroidered in sequins cut from my household waste plastic. Whilst researching micro-plastics in the food chain I discovered the unfortunate plight of the Laysan Albatross of Midway Atoll (movingly documented by photographer Chris Jordan). These birds unintentionally starve their chicks to death by feeding them waste plastic collected from the Pacific Ocean.

Sleeper Cells

This series considered the outcome of plastics covertly infiltrating the human body, like a sleeper cell. Micro-particles of plastic are thought to be unintentionally entering the food chain, where they can cross the gut barrier and enter body tissues. I collected the plastic detritus of my everyday life and cut sequins from it which I embroidered onto domestic textiles, like plastic particles sneaking into and through the material of the human body.

I saw parallels with syphilis in the 18th century, which was viewed as the wages paid for a life of pleasure and decadence. This bacterial infection too was stealthy; it could enter a body unknowingly and cause decades of pain and suffering before eventually killing its victim. The images of plastic 'pox' resulted from my pondering if clandestine plastic contamination might be the wages of an age of mass consumption.

Embroidery with waste plastic

Recent experiments incorporating waste plastic into embroidery to explore the idea of micro-particles of plastic entering the body

Electric Meat

These works were shown in a group show at Adelaide Central Gallery.

Two artists explore the slippage between scientific description and the lived experience of being and inhabiting a body, confronting the weight and anxiety of their materiality.

15 Hearts

This work comprised analogies of 15 real living hearts. Using water displacement of the fist I approximated the anatomical measurements of the hearts of 15 live subjects. The weight was measured out in salt and bundled up in hanging cotton pouches. The idea was that viewers could gently lift the pouches to get a sense of holding a human heart. These tactile experiences offering a new and different experience of one’s body.

Organic Intimacy

This series of embroideries was made for a group show titled Organic Intimacy, curated by Sara Lindsay. They depict human white blood cells with all the fascinating detail of the microscopic image rendered in stitch. Using a limited colour palette, I was experimenting with how different stitches could be used to depict the varied textures of the cell anatomy.

Graduation work
The inside is the outside: alimentary canal (detail)
press to zoom
Where I end: skin (arm), 2013
press to zoom
Where I end: skin (arm) (detail)
press to zoom
Dead weight, 2013
press to zoom

These works were the outcome of my Honours course. The series was titled 'Stitching the Electric Meat' and endeavored to create tactile sculptures of unfathomable anatomical concepts as a way to experience the physical body in different way to our usual experience of being a body.

One work is analogous to the size and weight of the skin of one arm and hand, another is a long squishy tape measuring the long length of the human alimentary canal, and the other documented here measures out my own body weight in portable kilos of salt.

Break, suffer, heal

This series of works grew from an investigation into the idea of the effect of illness on one's sense of self. These embroidery works depict virus and bacteria cells, something so tiny that can cause such pain and suffering to the human body. I took something horrible and scary and recreated its image with comforting and familiar  traditional embroidery stitches on calico, as a way to make these mysterious, invisible microbes beautiful and manageable.

Intense unrelenting itch
Intense unrelenting itch, mast cell, embroidery art, cheryl hutchens

An embroidery of a human mast cell. The cell that produces histamine and caused me months of intense itching with chronic hives.

I felt great horror at seeing my body in a state of illness, and it was shocking as I learned more about the body’s vulnerability. It was as if illness had damaged my 'spirit' as well as my body. Stitching the hateful mast cell was a way to become familiar with this invisible mechanism that was causing great suffering. I found the process cathartic for my 'spirit' after the illness was treated by medicine.

​Intense unrelenting itch, 2010, cotton, 210 x 215 mm