Plea for Plankton

20150517_093152AT the end of June my exhibition, Plea for Plankton, will open at The Vault, a unique art space in Bundaberg Regional Gallery. Many of the works in the show will be made from the pellicle, the fleshy growth on the top of the Kombucha culture, that cultured drink now on sale in many Health food outlets. My point in using this material is that it is in fact a Bio-plastic, being fed at intervals on sugary tea, a rich carbon source. If I can make a bioplastic in my kitchen, what could industry do with some effort and research? We would no longer need to use polluting petro-plastics that are now contaminating our lands and seas.

To make these works, most of the kombucha pellicles are placed in plaster moulds that I have sculpted in the forms of Coccoliths, microscopic exoskeletons of phytoplankton, the basic building block of the ocean food chains. Other works in the exhibition use common weeds to make rope, also intended to highlight the fact we don’t need to use plastic for ropes or nets. For milennia humans successfully used fibre plants for rope, sails and nets. Now damaged plastic rope and nets form a major proportion of the debris washed up on beaches and entangled around many unfortunate marine animals and birds.

One of the points about my art practice is that it is interwoven with the seasonal cycles of work in the garden, with fibres used from garden plants and vines like choko and loofah to make twine, and other plant trimmings made into botanical paper. I even made buttons this year when I had to prune some branches from my carob trees! This exhibition opens on June 28 at Bundaberg Regional Gallery with distinguished ecologist Sue Sargent as guest speaker to open the show.

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Susan Zela Bissett (Zela) is an educator, writer and artist with a lifetime involvement in environmental education and advocacy. Zela was born on Butchulla Country in Maryborough and has worked as an artist, educator, permaculture gardener, studio potter and consultant. She is passionate about sustainable lifestyles, maintaining habitat for wildlife and about unleashing the creativity in all of us.

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