Spacific Plastics, 2001, Culbert, Bill. Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, 2009. Image courtesy of Sue Crockford Gallery.
Bill Culbert, Spacific Plastics, 2001
Spreading like an archipelago across the gallery floor, Bill Culbert's Spacific Plastics is a sprawling collection of pastel-coloured Tupperware containers, interspersed with bare fluorescent light tubes. As well as referencing Pacific decorative traditions such as tivaevae (quilting), the work also alludes to the plastic detritus that litters the world’s oceans.
The work specifically references the continent-sized accumulation of plastic refuse which has formed in recent years in the northern Pacific and is referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Yet the work has ingenuity and optimism at heart. The plastic refuse is recast as coloured island-forms which are crossed by trajectories of light. Formal beauty eclipses the plainness of materials and the work is suggestive of journeys, movement, life itself.