Australian tech incubator Cicada Innovations and Biennale of Sydney are launching the ‘New & Sustainable Materials Challenge,’ in an effort to create a more sustainable future.
The works of chosen material-makers will be showcased to millions of Biennale audiences, exhibition partners, and exhibition makers globally.
The Challenge is open to any Australian and UK startups, innovators, and manufacturers who are inventing new sustainable non-polluting materials and reinventing the production of resources and products for use in exhibition site build and the presentation of artworks, starting with the Biennale of Sydney.
It is being run in partnership with the UK/Australia Season, a collaboration between the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the UK Government (Science and Innovation Network).
The Challenge is an opportunity for artists and scientists to collaborate, design, and communicate the immense power of the circular economy and new materials to transform industries and the world, given the critical role art and design have played in helping society understand and appreciate innovation.
Examples of this include Michelangelo’s incredible contribution to the anatomical sciences, or modern-day biologists creating leather from mushrooms for fashion houses like Stella McCartney, Adidas, and Kering.
A selection of innovative new materials will be procured and used by the Biennale to create sustainable exhibition staples such as signs, frames, gates, walls, plinths, and other functional exhibition pieces.
While Biennale artists may also choose to use the innovators’ new materials to produce their artworks.
Material makers themselves will also be profiled alongside artists, achieving incredible exposure at one of the world’s largest contemporary art events showcasing that every aspect of our world can be recreated to be positive for people and the planet.
Sally-Ann Williams, CEO of Cicada Innovations, said: “When we think ‘innovation’, the art world isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind.
“That’s what is so exciting about this project – it is reimagining all the unusual and wide-reaching ways that sustainable innovation can be used to reshape the planet we live on for the better.
“This Challenge will showcase all manner of revolutionary materials in unconventional ways: think walls made of kelp, artworks designed on mushroom fabrics, recycled materials forming 3D-printed stairwells.
“To launch such a unique concept within one of the world’s leading contemporary art events, the Biennale of Sydney, just brings the whole project to an incredibly exciting new scale.”
José Roca, artistic director of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney (2022), said: “Sustainability should be an action, not a theme.
“The 23rd Biennale of Sydney will acknowledge its own impact on the environment and encourage the use of non-polluting materials in the exhibition-making process.
“The ‘New & Sustainable Materials Challenge’ connects the latest technological advancements in materials with exhibition makers, to be seen on a global scale.
“We hope it will alter the way in which contemporary art exhibitions, like the Biennale of Sydney, are developed in the future.”
Barbara Moore, CEO of Biennale of Sydney, said: “The Biennale has been a unifying force in the arts sector for almost 50 years, in large part because we commission and present innovative, thought-provoking art from Australia and around the world.
“Through this challenge we hope to find and share more sustainable materials to build exhibitions. This is about taking a giant leap forward in exhibition-making practices, creating a new normal that is more conscious and responsible for the relationship we have with our environment.”
Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to Australia, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the brightest and best UK and Australian talent to put forward sustainable science and technology materials in the arts sector.
“We know that science and innovation are vital to delivering ambitious climate action. As President of COP26 in Glasgow this November, we encourage partners across the industry to bring innovative sustainable solutions to life.”
Helen Salmon, director, Australia at British Council, said: “Cicada Innovations and Biennale of Sydney’s ‘New & Sustainable Materials Challenge’ is a brilliant example of the aspirations of the UK/Australia Season, which brings together the arts and education sectors to explore Who Are We Now? “
“At such a critical time worldwide and as close partners from opposite sides of the globe, we must find sustainable ways to collaborate, share culture and knowledge.
“The British Council, UK Government (Science and Innovation Network) and GREAT Challenge Fund are delighted to support this important.”
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