Hero photograph
Diamond Dust XI
Photo by Marion Wassenaar

Carbon capture

Lesley Brook —

Marion Wassenaar's artworks highlight the fragility of carbon-based life and lifestyles.

A lecturer in the Dunedin School of Art, Marion Wassenaar draws attention to our fossil fuel based lives in her recent work. Human beings, a carbon-based life form, pollute our atmosphere with carbon dioxide that threatens the stability of life on this planet. 

Marion has been working with cotton fabric, including crocheted doilies sourced from second-hand shops. The cotton thread is carbonised through a slow process of pyrolysis without oxygen, reducing the natural material into something simpler and reminding us that life forms on this planet are carbon-based. A printing press captures the delicate carbon forms to produce two dimensional images on paper. 

This combination of pressure, time and heat simulates the process by which diamonds are produced, hence contrasting the hardness and durability of diamonds with the delicacy of the ephemeral carbonised cotton. Marion's work reminds us also of the need to sequester carbon instead of releasing it as carbon dioxide through the burning of coal, oil and forests, and the increasingly urgent need to consider a carbon neutral future for the survival of our planet.

Marion Wassenaar was a finalist and placed with a Merit award in the Parkin drawing prize this year with one of these works, Carbon Shroud.