West Gippsland Art Centre, cnr Smith and Albert Streets, Warragul, 3820

8 November – 31 December 2021

Rockpool

This exhibition invites you to reflect on how we use plastic, and to explore how we might think about it differently. The need to repair and protect our planet has never been more urgent. It is now widely acknowledged that the use of fossil fuels in plastic production, and waste resulting from single-use and disposable plastics are key contributors to the destruction of our natural environments.

Plasticity 2 is the second iteration of a project that aims to reduce plastic usage and wastage. From 17thSeptember 2017 until 16th September 2018, I collected all our household plastic waste, cleaned, and photographed it each week, and turned it into artworks. The resulting pieces were exhibited in Plasticity 1 at the Switchback Gallery, Churchill in 2019. Plasticity 2 includes 17 artworks from the original exhibition, and 14 new pieces produced from plastic waste gathered between January 2019 and November 2021. Plastic waste collected from roadsides, National Parks, beaches and the building sites around where I now live on Phillip Island is incorporated.

Plastic is one of the cheapest, most durable and disposable materials ever invented. More than 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced[i] each year–half of which is single-use, with eight million tonnes entering our oceans[ii]. Every day more than 60 million plastic bottles are thrown away.[iii] Plastic particles and molecules have polluted environments and entered food chains. Without change to current production and disposal, by 2050 there will be more plastic waste than fish in our oceans[iv]. While plastic contributes to preserving life–as we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic–as a toxic and waste product it is destroying marine and terrestrial environments; killing fish, birds and animals. Although it seems foolhardy to argue for living entirely without plastic, we cannot ignore the devastating impact on our ecological systems. We need to find safe and healthful ways to live with plastic by using less and reusing more.

Awareness of our own plastic usage can motivate us to change how we use and dispose of it.  So, please consider joining the challenge to collect all your waste plastic for one week, wash it, pile it up or make a sculpture and take a photo, then post to Instagram with #aweekofplastic and tag karenmareepreston. Check karenmareepreston stories (highlight #aweekofplastic) to see our combined accumulation. And please remember to recycle the plastic you gather.

[i] Plastic Oceans International 2018

[ii] Plastic Oceans International 2018

[iii] Franklin, P. (2006), Down the Drain, Recycling, May-June 2006, pp: 62-65

[iv] World Economic Forum, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company, The New Plastics Economy — Rethinking the future of plastics 2016, http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications.

Copyrighted Image