Installation view of Jessie French’s work <em>Ghost in the ‘cene</em> 2022 (front) on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia,  from 24 March – 20 August 2023.    Image: Tom Ross

Jessie French

Jessie French
(b. 1988, Melbourne. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Jessie French is an artist and experimental designer whose practice invites engagement with the possibilities of a post-petrochemical world. Founded on ideas around consumption, sustainability and regeneration, her material experimentation explores the potential of closed-loop systems, re-use, conscious consumption and interaction with objects. In 2020, French founded Other Matter, an experimental design studio working with algae-based bioplastics, exploring the application of newly developed materials.

Ghost in the ‘cene, 2022, is French’s most ambitious vessel to date. Made of algae material developed by the artist, the vessel is constructed in a series of panels sewn together with 14K gold. Compressed for millions of years, ancient algae are frequently and destructively mined to make petrochemical plastics. In her practice, French uses new algae, which is not only renewable, reusable and sustainable, but also safe enough to eat – and if kept dry is stable and preservable. If disposed of, the material is biodegradable and compostable.

There is currently no precedent for the fabrication of moulded vessels at scale in algae-based polymer – French’s explorations are a world-first in the field. Her work explores the meaning and value of the ephemeral, challenging our obsession with products that are ‘built to last’ without considering the ecological and social impacts of this durability.

Since commencing her practice in late 2019, French has exhibited at the 23rd Biennale of Sydney, Craft, Science Gallery Melbourne, Ars Electronica, Melbourne Design Week and 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Her work is held in the NGV Collection. In 2022, French was nominated for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé program and was recognised by the Victorian Craft Awards. She is represented by Anaïs Lellouche.