Emma Pinsent, Fouls of the beach (detail), 2022.
Duo exhibition with Billie Baker
Sawtooth ARI, Nipaluna (Hobart, TAS)
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.
Cool Change (In the middle of a heat wave)
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
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
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
Barnacle: Small crustaceans that stick to the underside of vessels and
sea life. Barnacles have been found to attach to plastic material and migrate across the
Pacific Ocean. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.  Pumice also serves as a mode of transport for marine organisms.
 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,https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/barnacles.html.
 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), https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/news-invasive-species-ride-plastic-across-ocean.
 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,” Phys.org (Phys.org, March 2, 2022), https://phys.org/news/2022-03-marine-plastic-pollution-contribute-introduction.html.
 For further reading on Cyanobacteria see: “Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae) and Water Quality,” Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) (Australian Government Initiative ), accessed November 28, 2022, https://www.waterquality.gov.au/issues/blue-green-algae.
 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), https://journals.openedition.org/factsreports/5257.
 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, https://doi.org/10.1038/s43017-019-0010-9.
 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), https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.961729.
 See: Jo Khan, “How Underwater Volcanoes Provide Floating Safe Havens for Tiny Marine Life,” ABC News (ABC News, June 3, 2020), https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-06-03/pumice-stone-raft-transporting-marine-life/12278124.
Is it black and white …
13 - 29 May 2021
Group exhibition at Stanley Street Gallery, Gadigal land (Darlinghurst, NSW)
Curated by Claire de Carteret
EMMA PINSENT, CLAIRE WELCH, SIAN KELLY, BRIGITTE PODRASKY, MEREDITH CRAVEY
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…
Matters of adornment, 2022, Paper pulp, paper mâché, plaster, wood, wire and acrylic paint, dimensions variable. Installation images at AIRspace Projects, NSW. Photo Document Photography
Matters of Adornment
6-22 March 2020
AIRspace Projects, Gadigal and Wangal land (Marrickville, NSW)
Matters of Adornment is a body of work that functions as an intermediate between architecture and the body — an organic, playful and supple reinterpretation of the often angular ornamental designs found in the plaster and cast iron work of western classical buildings. Using both contemporary and outmoded materials common to these spaces; a combination of gypsum products, paper pulp, papier-mâché (or carton pierre) and steel; Emma Pinsent reimagines these ubiquitous motifs as tubular, sculptural reliefs.
In order to reconfigure the original designs, Pinsent builds the sculptures out of elongated appendages that loop and twist in and out of one another; giving the form a length and roundedness much like that of limbs. In turn, she actively seeks out a review of the original designs through a familiar, bodily sensibility and thus a point of tangible relativity, to which she believes is absent in the rigid, antiquated embellishments of Victorian-style architecture. By pushing the boundaries of ornamental materials, Matters of Adornment acts as a rumination on the value of matter and a re-thinking of the static and arguably fallible narratives tied to western classical styles of architecture.
Portals (Installation view), 2019, Paper pulp, plaster, pigment, glue and wire, dimensions variable. Installation images of ‘Wait, What?’ at 107, Redfern, NSW.
11-21 Deember 2019
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
Group exhibition of 2019 Honours Graduates
3-14 December 2019
UNSW Galleries, Gadigal land (Paddington, NSW)
The Mediated Body (group exhibition), 2019, Installation images at Down / Under Space, Chippendale, NSW.
The Mediated Body
14 August 2019
Down/Under Space, Gadigal land (Chippendale, NSW)
Alice Cherry, Emily Edwards, Emma Pinsent, Sol Lee, Sabrina Basuki
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