Posted on September 9th, 2021 by Jane Fairhurst
Plastic – In his book Mythologies, published in 1957, Roland Barthes wrote an essay about plastic in which he said ” The whole world can be plasticized, and even life itself, since, we are told, they are beginning to make plastic aortas.”
Since then, although plastic has been put to many good uses, it has also become a bane of life in the twenty first century, polluting Earth’s oceans and the land.
In 2020 I was one of fifteen artists from the North West of England invited by Castlefield Gallery to remake an existing piece of work with one condition; to accept a bespoke ‘Obstruction’ by another artist in the exhibition. My ‘Obstruction’ to ‘use only found objects: delve into the subject of plastic waste and waste in general’ is subject matter that I have explored before in my mixed media work, including my existing work Wands for Fryr, where I’ve used mainly found objects and re-cycled materials. With my given obstruction I needed to find new ways to explore the subject.
I had many ideas but it was only when I was collecting pieces of plastic from the paths around my local fields and was reminded of collecting potsherds whilst exploring a Roman amphitheatre in Turkey that an idea began to form. My thoughts led me to William Flinders Petrie (1853-1942), the ‘father of Egyptology’. I had discovered a notebook of his containing a series of delicate watercolour paintings of Aegean potsherds, held as a digitalized version at the British School in Athens. They were made during 1892 whilst he was conducting excavations at Tel El Amarna the ancient city of Akhenaten. I decided to take on the role of a future archaeologist discovering plastic shards and carefully recording their information in the form of small watercolours painted onto prepared surfaces of found cardboard.