Plastocene by Porky Hefer at NGV

WORDS Cheri Morris

Porky Hefer‘s new collection, Plastocene – Marine Mutants From a Disposable World, features large-scale, handmade, imagined mutant sea creatures that have evolved from ocean trash.

A visual essay on the discarded detritus of hyper-consumerism, society’s addiction to convenience and the sordid neglect of the natural world, Plastocene speculates that – in an undesirable twist of evolutionary fate – sea creatures transmutate in an attempt to adapt to the abundance of plastic pollutants flooding their oceanic home.

Currently on show at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia, Plastocene comprises five works: Buttpuss, a giant octopus constructed from hand-felted cigarette butts; Q-Tip, evolved from a cotton bud and drawing reference from a hammerhead shark; Suckerfish, studded with 120 giant crocheted straws; Flat White, based on a disposable coffee cup; and Sabre Toothed Netfeesh, woven from off-cut marine rope.

As Porky’s design process is one born of collaboration, it’s unsurprising that Plastocene is the culmination of creative work by more than 80 crafters across six studios: Ronel Jordaan Textiles, Streetwires, Mielie, Wolf & Maiden Creative Studio, M Clothing and Leon at CXIXX, with African Karakul wool sponsored by Jonay Wool Carding. The entire project was co-produced by Southern Guild and will form part of NGV’s permanent collection.

Plastocene is one of 30 major new world-premiere shows commissioned for the NGV Triennial, which runs until 18 April 2021. For more information visit NGV’s website.