My new art practice utilises biofilms to create sculptural paintings. I’ve been developing this since 2014. I grow microbial cellulose surfaces from probiotic good bacteria and yeasts.
These intricate surfaces, resembling skin, are translucent and beautiful. I aim to make artworks that draw the viewer into the surface yet show a sense of decay and the visceral, intrigued by the slightly uncomfortable.
Drawn to the Japanese ‘wabi-sabi’ aesthetic of beauty in the transient and imperfect, and how we react to the abject, I feel that these artworks can subtly convey themes of sustainability. Life-cycles, decay, ruin, and human relationships with nature are intertwined. I incorporate my interest in survival, bush-craft, and making-from-scratch into my practice, creating works which reference the past, and the now by using this alien yet seemingly familiar material with established art conventions like stretcher bars.
I consider my ‘Metro-Botanic’ works to be paintings in the ‘expanded field’ since they don’t use paint, brush, or canvas. They have a painterly sensibility and are very much about surface, colour, and allowing the glitches within the material to help drive my compositional decisions.
I’ve been investigating the utilisation and display of these intriguing films and have a wealth of ideas I still want to explore. I’m discovering ways to sculpt & collage the material and colour it with pigments which cling in a marbled fashion or natural dyes which impart intense translucent colour. I love exploring materials, testing them to their limits and using their unique properties.
I learnt about these biofilms from my brother, who did vast amounts of research into kombucha, a health drink made from fermented tea, rich in probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. He used this knowledge to launch his skincare company Biomic, and here is its Facebook page. I used it to explore the culture which ferments the liquid, and grows as a by-product of the process, and how I could harness its properties to make art.