#placentaproject UPDATE

The #placentaproject is growing! There’s a slow-but-steady progress on the large sculpture- and also on the prioritising of the health messages that can be shared with this artwork as the vehicle.
For example, a sideline exhibit, the #bellybuttonproject will be a gallery of photographs of belly buttons… this is a tiny and rather insignificant body part that very young children are fascinated by. The large placenta sculpture will be complete with umbilical cord to scale. So…what is an umbilical cord for? Well…nothing much, when what it becomes just a belly button. But–

There are two health outcomes related to this birth apparatus: delayed cord-cutting, and cord blood donations- only one of these things can be done post-birth, not both. In many cases, the hospital is not equipped at time of birth to receive cord blood donations. There is evidence on both sides of the argument for or against delayed cord-cutting.

The reclaimed tshirts come from a team of volunteers at Mawarra Op Shop who put aside garments that can’t be sold (with “Fun Run 1985” or similar; or are badly soiled or damaged). The dyes used are chemical reaction dyes that act on cellulose fibres (eg. cotton). The challenge is to get rich red colour, and this is tricky based on the cotton content. One of the disadvantages of disposable fashion is the increased cost-cutting measures used to produce the staggering volume of clothes required by the developed-world markets. It’s increasingly hard -with the advent of nanotechnology- to discern the fibre content of a garment based on its ‘feel’… as a result, dyeing high-polyester garments means that most of the dye runs straight back out of the fibres during the double rinse. Still, the variety of tonal reds coming out of the dye baths is very, very satisfying.

All the knitters in the team have described the beautiful tactile qualities of the knitted sections. This thing we’re doing is going to be lovely ❤️



May 2017 – GIANT #placentaproject

A giant placenta sculpture! (it’s not as scary as it sounds)

My latest project evolved from an open artist call to model works based on the concept of blood – (https://melbourne.sciencegallery.com ). I was unsuccessful in my application, but I’m keen to see the community project realised. I’ve invited a large team of knitters, dye technicians, seam-makers, crochet artists, and pattern makers, via Facebook Groups . We will construct a large-scale model of the human placenta. We’ll also make a long umbilical cord, and a wearable ‘birthsuit’.

The yarn used for construction will be sourced from reclaimed garments that are unsellable by Mawarra Opportunity Shop, due to damage or soiling. Every year, thousands of tonnes of garments are discarded, and some end up in landfill… check out this review on the ABC three part series  “War on Waste”.

The sculptural placenta will be approximately 5 metres in diameter, and will depict both the smooth fetal side in bright reds, and the rough maternal side with its chorionic villi (NB. link is an actual photo, blood and all), in darker reds. The placenta will be suspended on an angle, approximately 1.5metres from the ground, inviting viewer inspection. The bright red umbilical cord will be approximately 7 metres long, and will attach to a greatly hooded, bright red birthsuit, resembling the fetal form when it is between 4 and 12 weeks gestation. This will demonstrate in three dimensional form the earliest origins of blood, prior to viable life outside the womb. The birth suit may be worn by viewers.



The artwork will invite tactile response. Due to the soft texture of the knitted and crocheted sculpture, viewers will receive intense satisfaction from holding, squeezing and touching the artwork.The umbilical cord and ‘afterbirth’ are both iconic images in human society. They generally remain hidden within the modern-day medicalised birth suite, but they are still recognisable in their form and function.

Along with the sculpture will be colourful and somewhat ‘sanitised’ illustrations (because let’s face it, we have an understandable response to anything bloody). These pics will explain the part the placenta plays in erythropoiesis for the new human. This is the origin of blood. Erythropoiesis is the making of blood, or literally from the Greek origin words “erythro” [red] and “poiesis” [to make].

So the next two months, I’ll be making red.