Sustainable materials challenge

The Biennale of Sydney and deep tech incubator Cicada Innovations have joined forces to launch a sustainable materials challenge, with a selection of sustainable material-makers in the running to be showcased to millions of Biennale audiences, exhibition partners and exhibition makers globally.

Open to any Australian and UK startup, the Challenge invites participation from innovators and manufacturers who are inventing new sustainable non-polluting materials. 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 power of the circular economy and new materials to transform industries and the world.

Innovation on show

A selection of innovative new materials selected through the Challenge will be procured and used by the Biennale to create sustainable exhibition staples – signs, frames, gates, walls, plinths, and other functional exhibition pieces. Biennale artists may also choose to use the new materials to produce their artworks.

Material makers themselves will also be profiled alongside artists. This opportunity will provide them with 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.

By reinventing these traditional materials – plastics, glues, paints, plywood, cements – in planet-friendly ways, we could completely transform the exhibition, arts, and festival sectors, says Cicada Innovations CEO Sally-Ann Williams.

“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.”

Get involved

To submit your solution for consideration, you’ll need to complete an online application to receive an information pack and apply by 29th August 2021.

Learn more about the New & Sustainable Materials Challenge.

Feature image courtesy of the Biennale of Sydney.