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.
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.
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