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London-based artist Alice Potts’ collaborative collection with Mimco uses bioplastic sequins made out of discarded materials

WORDS BY MAEVE KERR-CROWLEY

Innovative jewellery.

Mimco is once again teaming up with its long term partner at the National Gallery of Victoria as Melbourne celebrates the latest NGV Triennial extravaganza.

Having worked with the gallery for five years now, Mimco is no stranger to finding inspiration in the art and exhibitions that fill its halls. This year, the brand also played a part in staging the NGV Triennial – a free, gallery wide showcase of local and international art held by the NGV every three years.

The theme for this year’s lineup is all about the big issues facing society today. Artists have used their dizzying array of mediums and specialties to pose questions and theories about technology, culture and where we’re headed in the future.

As part of this ongoing collaboration, Mimco supported the NGV to commission work from London-based artist and innovator Alice Potts.

Working as a material researcher and inventor, Alice’s primary focus is in creating sustainable biomaterials to serve as alternatives for all the things we can’t live without. Biomaterials like bioplastic look and feel like the plastics we’re used to, but are made wholly from biological, naturally occurring resources.

To create her work, Alice turns discarded food waste and plants into materials that range from solid to silicone-like and can be used for everything from weaving to dry molding.

Presented with a list of artists the NGV wanted to get on board for the Triennial, the Mimco team knew they really wanted to work with Alice. Senior jewellery designer Sophie Begg says of the decision, “Alice’s work actually stood out immediately. She has this amazing dedication to creating biomaterials with crystals and these bioplastics.”

Anyone who heads down to the NGV Triennial can find her contribution: a series of PPE face shields made from beautifully colourful bioplastic. Titled the Dance Biodegradable Personal Protective Equipment (DBPPE) Post Covid Facemasks, the series of 20 shields are made from food waste and dyed with flowers to create a wide range of colour effects.

The project was Alice’s response to the pandemic, particularly the accelerated production and use of single-use PPE that it created. The funky face shields are meant to remind us how important it is to find sustainable alternatives to traditional plastics, particularly in situations like this where their use is so important. After her stint at the NGV Triennial, Alice plans to make both her bioplastic formula and face shield design available as open-source resources, in a bid to make these alternatives as accessible as possible.

Inspired by Alice’s level of innovation, Mimco also brought her on board to collaborate with Sophie and create a limited-edition jewellery collection. Made up of 20 one-of-a-kind pieces, the capsule range sought to utilise sustainable materials, which often means using what you’ve already got on hand.

“It’s a combination of upcycled materials that we have from our archive and our development process, and we’ve incorporated the bioplastic resins from Alice,” Sophie explains. “You know, each piece is made with a lot of love, a lot of care and attention. It’s something that you can keep as this beautiful piece of art.”

Alice’s contribution to the collaboration is a range of bioplastic ‘sequins’ made during lockdown. By experimenting with different flowers, plants and vegetables, she was able to create an impressive range of colours for Mimco to work with.

Of course, being stuck in lockdown like the rest of us, Alice was presented with the exciting challenge of finding discarded materials to work with in the 2km radius around her home.

“Each piece I made for both the NGV Triennial and for Mimco was done during the pandemic. The flowers, the food waste, the earth – everything that has been used for both of the collaborations has been found following the guidelines of the lockdown.”

The goals of this collaboration are two-fold. The first is to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind jewellery that celebrates the NGV Triennial in all its glory. But the collaboration is also an opportunity for the gallery, brand and artist to come together and take fashion somewhere new and innovative.

Sustainability in fashion is an ongoing journey, full of chances to do something unprecedented and push the industry forward. This desire to ‘do good’ is deeply entrenched in Mimco’s ethos, prompting the brand to seek out sustainable alternatives to its materials at every turn.

“If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt throughout this process, it’s that there is an opportunity for sustainable materials in fashion’s future,” Alice says following the collaboration. “I think Mimco has shown this and will be one of the leading companies that shows that there is an opportunity to support young material innovators like myself to create these more sustainable futures.”

The Mimco x NGV capsule collection designed in collaboration with Alice Potts will be available to shop online from January 19 and at the NGV design store. In the meantime, you can check out the NGV Triennial for free until April 18.

ngv.vic.gov.au

mimco.com.au

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