Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thoughts on the paradox of sustainability

'Grey matter' and 'What does green mean?' both 2013, Nicola Moss. Courtesy of SGAR.

Thinking, thinking, thinking....
When I start thinking about sustainability, what does it mean? how can I achieve it?..or more accurately, contribute towards it in a small way in my day to day living, etc....I basically find the questions keep coming, one leads to another, none of them get an easier either. But I would like to find ways of resolving some of the contradictions I have in my own lifestyle, and so the questions continue.

Don't worry, I do sleep at night. The thoughts are there percolating away in the back of my mind. At all different times and places, like every time I buy some meat from a butcher and wonder why it is so difficult to buy meat without plastic. Or when I consider my love of sushi and the disposable plastic soy sauce bottle ironically made in the shape of a fish. And most annoyingly when I come home with a plastic bag.

I have made a series of works for my show With or without that represent some of these thoughts that are often conflicting in my mind.
I began with the humble plastic grocery bag in a work titled 'Grey matter'. It features one half of a brain filled with plaited shopping bags; on the other side is a paper cut of mangrove tree top. I have plastic bags in my home still! and I value the environment.

I moved from the plastic bag to the green bag in my next work titled 'What does green mean?' There are a lot of thoughts and questions brought together in this work, beginning with the green bag label .."Made in China. 100% Poly Propylene." I started with questions of what happens to green bags when they wear out? Do they go to landfill? How do they break down? etc. There is a paper cut overlay of barnacles which references coastal environments of North Stradbroke Island where I made frottage rubbings of the rock shelf geology. I read about Charles Darwin's travels and visit to Australia, where he collected samples of barnacles from Moreton Bay; and the drag effect barnacles have on shipping resulting in reduced fuel efficiency. On the other side of the brain I thought about being an artist and trying to be sustainable in the materials I use. I don't often work with upcycled/recycled/found objects in my work, it was an area I wanted to contemplate in this series. I chose fish scales as my medium, cleaning, boiling and piercing them to be sewn over the brain motif. As several people who have seen the work commented, they make a seriously beautiful sequin effect. This area of fish scales encloses a delicate paper cut of a chemical compound motif. 'What does green mean?'

There are two more works in this series on show at the exhibition, I'll discuss them shortly. As with most art it's best appreciated in the flesh...so to speak.
With or without continues at Redland Art Gallery until the 8th December.

I look forward to hearing any thoughts or questions you may have on the paradox of sustainability.

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