Gemma Brown (left), Emma Pinsent, afterlives of access and amenity (right)

planned retreat, 2024, kilnformed salvaged float glass, marine waste, organic matter, pine posts, glazed stoneware, nickel bronze and saltwater patina.

dune repair (left), weather we’re together (right)

dune repair, 2022, found marine waste, dune nylon fencing, nickel brone and saltwater patina.

dune repair (detail)

afterlives of access and amenity (installation view), 2024.

residual edges, 2023, nickel bronze, saltwater patina.

weather we’re together, 2023, kiln-formed sea glass and bottle, found objects, glazed stoneware.

weather we’re together (detail)

Gemma Brown (left + right). lost property (middle), 2024, kilnformed salvaged float glass, found rope.

lost property (installation view)

lost property (detail)

Somewhere I’ve Been
2-11 February 2024
with Gemma Brown
curated by Niamh Armstrong
Canberra Contemporary Art Space (Manuka, ACT)

Working with materials from somewhere they’ve been, artists Gemma Brown and Emma Pinsent reconfigure waste, organic matter and the traces of anthropogenic intervention as a means to explore the complex relationship between humans and the environment. Utilising site-responsive ceramic and sculptural processes, Brown and Pinsent each investigate the meetings between people and place that transform, shape and erode the sites we visit. Incorporating traces and sediments of past encounters, the materiality of Brown and Pinsent’s work brings forward our own entanglement in ecological change, highlighting our relationship to the land as one both sacred and fraught.  

Emma Pinsent, Coming together, falling apart, 2023, cotton voile, rust, organic matter, copper oxide, coffee rock, thread, steel eyelets.

Emma Pinsent and Billie Baker, A Leaky Exchange, 2023.

Emma Pinsent, Weather we’re together (detail), 2023, found objects, stoneware, glass, bronze.

Emma Pinsent, A Leaky Exchange, 2023. Duo exhibition with Billie Baker at Sawtooth ARI, Launceston. Photographer Emily Dimozantos

A Leaky Exchange
duo exhibition with Billie Baker
Sawtooth ARI, Lutruwita (Launceston, TAS)
5 May - 11th June 2023

Emma Pinsent and Billie Baker offer a porous reinterpretation of the intertidal zone of the beach. Neither land nor sea, the intertidal zone is a site of porous encounters that are evermoving and everchanging. This constant state of flux allows hybrid permeations between human and non-human phenomena – revealing strange entangled, and interactive ecologies. Taking the intertidal zone as a starting point, affective leakages between human and non-human material bodies are examined. Through site-responsive sculptural and photographic processes, each artist implicates their practice in a kind of ecology with the intertidal zone, engaging in material and semiotic processes that transform, penetrate, erode, and saturate experimental outcomes.

Emma Pinsent, Through the hole of a shell (Installation view), 2023, Slumped recyled glass, timber stands, paper pulp and oyster shell bowls, found clam shells. Shown as part of group exhibition, errant form, Tiles, Lewisham. Photography Olga Svyatova

errant form
Group exhibition
Curated by Claire De Carteret and Niko Plaskasovitis
2 - 19 February 2023
Tiles, Lewisham NSW

Othy Willis, Owen Redmond, Elia Bosshard, Lucy Whitelaw, Emma Pinsent, Rachel Schenberg, Ju Bavyka, pollypocket, Joshua Benjamin, Claire Angelica, Niko Plaskasovitis

Straying away from how things have been done before, errant form is a collaborative effort of artists sharing and working things out together. It all started with an email chain, one artist invited the next, connecting an undefined group together, a becoming of something.

Cool Change (In the middle of a heat wave)
Group exhibition
Curated by Floorplan Studio
18 - 22 January 2023
Abstract Thoughts, Darlinghurst NSW

Emma Pinsent, Henry Butterworth, Jade Court Gold, Lisa Myeong-Joo, Lucille Martin, Mori, Mungo Howard, Thomas Kuss, Thomas Kusturin

Born out of a growing urgency to discuss and untangle the complexities of the world around us, Cool Change is framed by Australia’s shifting cultural and ecological landscapes. The exhibition embodies a collective desire to nurture and understand the worlds we inhabit, creating space for perspectives that subvert western-colonial ideologies and celebrate connections to Country, ancestors, human and non-human life, whilst also offering regenerative conversations around visual culture.

Encompassing a wide variety of creative practices Cool Change allows for numerous relationships and points of correspondence to emerge through the artworks. The artists draw upon the past to confront the present moment in time and bear witness to the impacts of our own undoing as we only begin to comprehend the true extent of the Earths interconnectedness and the ramifications of extractive capitalist economies.

Water organically evolved into a central motif of Cool Change weaving its way through artworks and ideas. The element echoes the fluidity of the present moment and the entanglement of all beings. It simultaneously foregrounds the physical implications of the climate emergency, including landmarks swallowed by rivers and oceans fouled by waste.

Cool Change uses creative storytelling to highlight how human beings are relational entities bound and influenced by environments. We are not separate from the earth; we are a part of it, every living thing, small or large, is part of the interconnected web of life.

Emma Pinsent, Fouls of the beach (Installation), 2022. Facilitated by Nextdoor ARI and shown at House Conspiracy, Meanjin (Brisbane). Photography by Ella Callander

Catalogue Essay by Elen Kline
November 2022

Part one: Brave New Worlds

What does Emma Pinsent’s work Fouls of the beach (2022) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World have in common? On a surface level perhaps not much, but on a deeper level, both explore different ways in which humans affect, shape, create and change the world. This change is not always positive or negative, but it is change. Humans are not passively existing, for with each action there is an array of run off effects.

In Pinsent’s Fouls of the beach (2022), new worlds and ecosystems are created through Pinsent’s collection and presentation of found objects. These found objects that are home to both visible and invisible microorganisms include some invasive species moved and introduced because of changing climates and pollution. These new worlds demonstrate that whether we want to acknowledge it or not, humans are a part of the greater ecology, and our actions have a stream of effects flowing on. The bryozoans and barnacles that can be seen on the dune repair mesh and ropes within the installation are a direct result of anthropogenic activities. There is no hiding from the new and changing environments that have resulted from the Anthropocene, and Pinsent invites us to reflect on our involvement and role in this ecological change.

The installation serves as a microcosm. A small collection of mini worlds. It demonstrates just a portion of anthropogenic environmental disruption. Just a portion of plastic waste found on the beach. And just a portion of what can be found on the beaches in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales. The intimate but human-scale installation demands the viewer’s attention and therefore invites us into the microcosm. Finding ourselves as part of the community, we are then encouraged to reflect on our role in ocean ecosystems.

The juxtaposition of organic and man-made, natural and artificial, trash and treasure, again further represents this notion of human involvement. In the installation, plastiglomerates mimic the form of natural rocks but are anthropogenic waste, comprised of plastic. There is an intricacy and beauty to them having combined with natural sediments. However, these ‘plastic rocks’ are a result of anthropogenic destruction. By including plastiglomerates in the installation, Pinsent is inviting us to explore the boundaries between natural and man-made. Nestled amongst the plastiglomerates is ‘faux pumice’. Attempting to minimise her environmental footprint, Pinsent creates paper replicas of the pumice unearthed in sand dunes after hazardous weather. The plastiglomerates and ‘faux pumice’ presented together further demonstrate the blur between organic and man-made, trash and treasure.

We often view humans as interacting with the natural environment but forget to notice how the natural world interacts with us. The string and rope that features through Pinsent’s installation serves almost to bind us with the natural world, blurring the binaries of the human and non-human world. 

The buckets in the centre of the installation allude to the washing Pinsent took part in at the beginning of her journey collecting ocean material. The water full of microplastic encourages us to question what ‘clean’ means. Washing again represents the human tendency to enforce control over environments. The bryozoans and barnacles have colonised plastic waste as a means of survival; however, they have been removed from their new homes during the ‘cleaning process’. Where do these bryozoans and barnacles belong? The plastic waste in the ocean has displaced them. Through the inclusion of invasive species, Pinsent encourages us to consider both the explicit and less obvious control we hold and attempt to hold over the environment.

The entanglement of organic and inorganic, man-made and natural in an intricate, tactile, and inviting installation, ultimately encourages a care for the environment. Perhaps this care for the environment will stimulate a ‘brave new world’ where environmental sustainability is prioritised to preserve our intricate marine ecosystem. We cannot come up with solutions if we do not know what questions to ask. That is where the strength in Pinsent’s work lies. The large-scale, tactile qualities of the installation demand attention and allow questions surrounding caring for the ocean and the larger environment to be generated.

Part Two: Mini Glossary of organic and inorganic

To explore some of the different worlds and species demonstrated in Fouls of the beach, some technical terms will be discussed here. The different terms allow the diversity of organisms occurring in Pinsent’s work to be illustrated. In turn, this allows us as the audience to better understand the novel worlds depicted in Fouls of the beach. It also helps us to understand Pinsent’s blurring of organic with inorganic, and natural with man-made.

Barnacle: Small crustaceans that stick to the underside of vessels and sea life.[1] Barnacles have been found to attach to plastic material and migrate across the Pacific Ocean.[2] Due to attaching to plastic materials, barnacles ingest microplastics.

Bryozoans: Invertebrates found in marine and freshwater. Like some barnacles, bryozoans are another example of an invasive species that colonises plastic waste in the ocean and ends washed up in a foreign area.[3] Due to attaching to plastic waste, the bryozoans ingest microplastics.

Cyanobacteria: Sometimes referred to as Blue-green Algae (although taxonomically considered bacteria rather than an algae species). Usually microscopic, specific conditions cause visual ‘blooms’ that lead to poor water quality.[4]

Microorganism: Refers to an organism that requires a microscope to be visible. Marine microorganisms are essential for thriving ocean ecosystems, but disruptions of microorganisms can also negatively affect ecosystems (e.g. Cyanobacteria blooms).

Microplastic: Refers to small (less than 5mm dimension) pieces of plastic. Inorganic but like the Cyanobacteria affects water quality. Due to the small size, microplastics are easily available for ingestion causing adverse health effects on marine organisms.[5]

Plastiglomerate: Compressed plastic that mimics the form of rocks. Plastiglomerates form during anthropogenic events (e.g. burning). Through events such as sedimentary transport, plastiglomerates possess textural similarities to natural rocks.[6]

Pumice: A porous type of volcanic rock. Pumice has a sponge like appearance and contemporary researchers are concerned about pumices potential to transport micro-plastics. [7] Pumice also serves as a mode of transport for marine organisms.[8]


[1] Read more about barnacle taxonomy and habitat here: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration US Department of Commerce, “What Are Barnacles?,” NOAA's National Ocean Service, March 30, 2016,

[2] To read more about barnacles and migration via plastic waste see: Whitney Pipkin, “Invasive Species Are Riding on Plastic across the Oceans,” Environment (National Geographic, May 3, 2021),

[3] To read more about plastic waste and its relationship with invasive marine species see: Science X staff, “Marine Plastic Pollution Could Contribute to the Introduction of Invasive Species,” (, March 2, 2022),

[4] For further reading on Cyanobacteria see: “Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae) and Water Quality,” Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) (Australian Government Initiative ), accessed November 28, 2022,

[5] See: Subhankar Chatterjee and Shivika Sharma, “Microplastics in Our Oceans and Marine Health,” Field Actions Science Reports. The journal of field actions (Institut Veolia, March 1, 2019),

[6] See: Patricia L. Corcoran and Kelly Jazvac, “The Consequence That Is Plastiglomerate,” Nature Reviews Earth &Amp; Environment 1, no. 1 (January 2020): pp. 6-7,

[7] For more about pumice and relationships between pumice and plastics see: Siriporn Pradit et al., “The First Evidence of Microplastic Presence in Pumice Stone along the Coast of Thailand: A Preliminary Study,” Frontiers in Marine Science 9 (2022),

[8] See: Jo Khan, “How Underwater Volcanoes Provide Floating Safe Havens for Tiny Marine Life,” ABC News (ABC News, June 3, 2020),

Emma Pinsent, Amidst fallen mallow, 2020, Norfolk Island Hibiscus, red hibiscus, rooibos tea, gum arabic and acrylic on raw canvas, 52 x 42 cm

Emma Pinsent, Compost Whispers, 2021, Echinacea tea, coffee, matcha, lemon-scented gum, nasturtiums, wood ash, found charcoal, avocado pit, white nectarine pit, red hibiscus, red wild clay, watercolour and acrylic on raw canvas, frame 42 x 32 cm

Emma Pinsent, Midsummer Brew, 2021, Lavendar, nasturtriums, rooibos tea, red hibiscus flower and acrylic paint on raw canvas, 26 x 26 cm

Is it black and white... (group exhibition), 2022, Installation images at Stanley Street Gallery, NSW. Photo Doqument Photography

Is it black and white …
13 - 29 May 2021
Group exhibition at Stanley Street Gallery, Gadigal land (Darlinghurst, NSW)
Curated by Claire de Carteret


What gets lost in our pursuit of definition?

Where do the smudges, echoes, the illegible shadows go; how can one grasp the in-between, the spaces beyond construct? And more, what of the things that won’t fit into category, they won’t make sense, they refuse and push definition, fracture dichotomies, blend materials, they make new ones. Multiplying the shadows of grey.

Stanley Street Gallery presents five contemporary artists at the forefront of their careers. They are young graduates, ambitious and unafraid of category; material, conceptual or otherwise. Liberating forms, materials, medium and bodies, these artists present fresh work that asks us to consider; what trembles at the intersections? What continues to live and breathe after category?

Playing with their practice and engaging with the unpredictability of material experimentation to carve out their space in Sydney, these artists modulate encounters with the in-between, the undulating multiplicities, and they tell us without hesitation that it was never just black or white…

Portals (Installation view), 2019, Paper pulp, plaster, pigment, glue and wire, dimensions variable. Installation images of ‘Wait, What?’ at 107, Redfern, NSW.

Wait, What?
11-21 Deember 2019
Group exhibition
107, Gadigal land (Redfern, NSW)

Claudia Platzer, Emma Pinsent, Stephanie Nagy

Weird Becomings (Installation view), 2019, Paper pulp, wire, plaster, foam, plywood and acrylic, dimensions variable. Installation images of ‘The Annual’, UNSW Galleries, Paddington, NSW. Photo Nic Mason

The Annual
Group exhibition of 2019 Honours Graduates
3-14 December 2019
UNSW Galleries, Gadigal land (Paddington, NSW)

Once you were nothing and now you’re so much more, 2018, Immersive installation at ‘Opening’ curated by Fork x Mucusbubble, Flow studios, Marrickville, NSW. Photo Michael Gallegos

Group exhibition
Curated by Fork x Mucusbubble
3 August 2018
Flow Studios, Gadigal land (Marrickville, NSW)