News: February 2019

Subversive Plasticity

Subversive Plasticity presents plastics from our everyday world in a new light. With exhibits exploring the interplay between materials and the forms they take in plastic objects, it challenges people to build their own ‘plastics literacy.’

Curated by Dr Deirdre McKay from Keele University’s School of Geography, Geology and the Environment ‘Subversive Plasticity’ incorporated artworks inspired by and made from plastic waste, commissioned works from members of Stoke-on-Trent’s arts charity, B-arts, and findings from cutting-edge research carried out by Keele University staff and students.

‘Everyday Objects’ was a series of images showing a selection of artworks exhibited in the 2012 Everyday Objects exhibition in Baguio City, the Philippines. The work of a group of 25 Filipino artists and artisans brought together through Dr Deirdre McKay’s British Academy-funded project, Everyday Objects explored what kinds of things indigenous Filipinos were making from plastic waste. Alongside Deirdre’s work Lei Xiaoyu (Greenie), a PhD Candidate at Keele University, graduate student in Human Geography and company member at B arts, exhibited how creative approaches generate spaces of learning and potential transformation in people’s relationships with waste plastics. Nicole Githua, a MA Geographical and Environmental Research Candidate at Keele University presented a series of images from her work with Ocean Sole Factory, Kenya, on waste-based crafts and consumption within tourist spaces and Keele Geography Undergraduate students present work on microplastic research.

The exhibition hosted work by local artists created independently of and commissioned directly for the show. Rachel Ballard displayed her community-art led ‘Capture’ fishing net made from repurposed materials. ‘Refuge’ a light installation by local artist Alou whose work takes into consideration the correlations between the Urban environment, pattern and form. Being particularly interested in urban spaces and the throwaway society that we live in, Helena Shave’s collages speak to the variety and persistence of plastics in the U.K.’s coastal environments and to the U.K.’s place in the global circulation of plastics in our oceans. The two pieces, Plastic Spectrum and Fish, were commissioned for Subversive Plasticity. The focal point of ‘Subversive Plastcitiy’ was a large reef installation constructed from plastic waste by members of the community working with artist Richard Redwin. ‘Reef’ explored the threat posed by plastics in our oceans.

Visitors were encouraged to participate in Subversive Strings, an interactive feedback space to voice concerns over plastic waste. There was also participatory, hands-on activities taking place through the duration of the exhibition and during Keele University Green Week, plus new work developed on microplastics with the Association of Commonwealth Universities Blue Charter Fellow, Dr Elyse Stanes who has travelled from the University of Wollongong, Australia.

The exhibition, at Keele University Art Gallery, ran from 11 February until 30 March 2019.

Our partners