Plastics are now deeply entangled in our daily lives and global ecosystems in ways that need radical rethinking. A panel of experts in science, Indigenous knowledges, cultural studies and design will discuss the ecological and social concerns of this issue and explore why solutions to the plastic problem need to be multidimensional.
The discussion will be anchored by the recently acquired Jetsam table by internationally recognised furniture designer Brodie Neill (Powerhouse object 2023/1/1). Made of ‘ocean terrazzo’, a material produced by recycling microplastic ocean waste and setting it in resin, Jetsam embodies a design solution that is both beautiful and sustainable. Panellist Dr Jennifer Lavers collaborated with Brodie Neill Studio on Jetsam, extending research into designs that harmonise with scientific understandings of sustainability.
Professor Gay Hawkins is a research leader in Australian cultural studies who specialises in the cultural and political history of plastics. In 2005, she published The Ethics of Waste which was a major influence on the field known as ‘discard studies’ and the results of her research on the recent rise of bottled water markets were published in Plastic Water: The Social and Material Life of Bottled Water (2015). She is a Powerhouse scholar-in-residence and professor at Western Sydney University’s Institute for Culture and Society.
Dr Jennifer Lavers (Cree/Métis Nation, Canada) is a research scientist studying the effects of chemical and physical pollution on marine and freshwater environments. She has featured in the documentaries A Plastic Ocean (2016), BLUE (2017) and Drowning in Plastic (2018). Lavers is also a collaborator on the Ocean Terrazzo series with Brodie Neill Studio.
Angelique Hutchison is a Powerhouse curator specialising in engineering, design, digital, innovation, technology and culture. She is undertaking a broad-ranging investigation of plastics, a design material area the Powerhouse has researched and collected since the 1930s.
On Gadigal land
500 Harris St
Ultimo NSW 2007
24 September 2023