Fabricating with Bioplastics Public Workshop

Hosted by Lyndsay McKay at INCUBATOR Art Lab
Written by Abigail Morris and Lyndsay McKay

On April 8th, 2023, INCUBATOR Art Lab hosted a Fabricating with Bioplastics workshop led by team member Lyndsay Mckay. In this workshop, participants learned about Lyndsay’s background as a nurse, artist, mature student, and mother. Cooking show style, Lyndsay demonstrated how bioplastics are made by mixing agar, glycerin, and water to form a plastic-like material. While it usually takes approximately 3 days for the bioplastic to fully dry, participants then had the opportunity to explore and play with pre-prepared materials in a range of different colours and textures. Some of the bioplastics were prepared with colour-changing pigment, one that is sensitive to UV light and another that responds to changes in temperature. Through the process of exploration and play, participants created works of art ranging from flowers and hearts to origami jellyfish and decorative bowls.


More about Lyndsay Mckay and her artwork...

Lyndsay is a bio-artist living in Victoria, British Columbia. Informed by a career in nursing, Lyndsay’s work investigates the intimacies and liminalities that exist in the spaces between bodies and environments and bodies and bodies. She has continued to retain a strong biological thread in her practice, which compels her to research and immerse herself in the rich ecosystems around her home on Vancouver Island. Fascinated by the porosity of space and of the human body, Lyndsay thinks about how people perceive or experience relationships between environments and human encounters. Embodying the process of becoming aware, her practice of journeying and collecting has provided opportunities to intimately explore what it means to be a body in a predominantly natural environment for an extended period of time. On her walks, Lyndsay gathers seaweed species that have washed up along the shore. Using these materials and thinking about their histories, the artist is reminded of events that cycle between self-discipline and surrender. She states, “Seaweed, once attached with tenacity and actively generating the context around it, washes ashore and becomes removed of its utility. Born through the sway and agitation of an aquatic landscape, it finds new meaning by way of its landed stillness. In my hands it is requoted again into another kind of existence. My process began as a question that asked what kind of portraits I could make from my coastal neighborhood, but I have since become lost in the pleasure of resurrecting and blending with its abandoned forms.” Lyndsay’s specific interest in bioplastics arose through her hands-on exploration in theories of New Materiality and was further inspired by her involvement in a workshop at the Living Matter Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Biomaterials (or biopolymers) are part of a growing array of new materials exploration which focuses on sustainable approaches by industry marketers to combat single-use plastics uses. While bioplastics will not solve the world’s problems, they are being highlighted as a solution to the devastating reality of plastic pollution. The material is compostable, biodegradable and can be used continuously and sustainably by being reheated and reformed.


Lyndsay’s work, Bioplastic Landscapes

In her work, Biomorphic Landscapes, Lyndsay is interested in the boundaries between inside and outside; in the porous space between skin and environment, where the forms of things are generated. With journeying as practice, the artist emphasizes the traces of her own body as it moves through encounters which result in trails of skin and dust and surface scars. These marks are visible, from bioplastics cooking and drying in her home kitchen to thumbprints left in foraged clay. Through this, she is able to reexamine the contexts that compose the form, resulting in a kind of symbiotic achievement between self and space.


Image Credit:
1-6) Fabricating with Bioplastics Workshop with Lyndsay McKay: Photography by: Cri Kosti
7-8) Bioplastics Landscapes, Lyndsay McKay 2023.