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Porky Hefer’s Major New Collection To Make World Premiere At NGV Triennial 2020

A major new collection by Porky Hefer, Plastocene ­– Marine Mutants From a Disposable World,  will make its world premiere when the NGV Triennial 2020 opens at NGV International (National Gallery of Victoria) in Melbourne, Australia on 19 December. The collection of large-scale handmade seating environments draws attention to ocean pollution by imagining mutant sea creatures evolved from plastic bags, straws, and coffee cups.

Plastocene  comprises five works: Buttpuss, a 14m wide x 3.6m high octopus constructed from giant hand-felted cigarette butts; Q-Tip, evolved from a cotton bud and drawing reference from a hammerhead shark; Suckerfish, studded with 120 giant crocheted straws; Flat White, based on a disposable coffee cup; and Sabre Toothed Netfeesh, woven from off-cut marine rope.

Hefer’s design process is rooted in collaboration, drawing on the skills and knowledge of the artisan groups around him. For this collection he conducted the hands of more than 80 crafters across six studios: Ronel Jordaan Textiles, Streetwires, Mielie, Wolf & Maiden Creative Studio, M Clothing and Leon at CXIXX, with African Karakul wool sponsored by Jonay Wool Carding. The entire project was co-produced by Southern Guild and will form part of NGV’s permanent collection.

Marking the end of the Anthropocene, our current fossil-fuelled epoch, Hefer’s creatures remind us of plastic bags, straws, coffee cups, trash, and the discarded detritus of hyper-consumerism, convenience and environmental neglect. He speculates that in a distant future some species might transmutate, adapting to the endless abundance of plastics and pollutants flooded into nature. In a twist of evolutionary fate, Hefer imagines what would happen if refined hydrocarbon distillates from fossil fuels fused with organic DNA to generate a new type of life – transitional forms that exemplify the mutant fruits of our fossil-fuel era. The toxic future painted here is one that humans would struggle to inhabit. But at best, Hefer hopes that life continues in this new form, following the mass extinction that he sees us so selfishly perpetuating.

Plastocene is one of 30 major new world-premiere works commissioned by the NGV for the NGV Triennial. Featuring 87 projects by more than 100 artists, designers and collectives from 33 countries, the exhibition will be held at NGV International in Melbourne from 19 December 2020 to 18 April 2021. Comprising an ambitious and diverse selection of works showcasing the vanguard of contemporary practice, the exhibition offers a visually arresting and thought-provoking view of the world at this unique moment.

About Porky Hefer

South African designer Porky Hefer (born 1968) spent 16 years in advertising, during which time he worked as a creative director in Cape Town and New York agencies, and became one of South Africa’s most awarded creatives. Realising that the higher he climbed, the less he personally created, in 2007 he left advertising to start up a creative consultancy, Animal Farm. Four years later he founded Porky Hefer Design.

He focuses on conceptual precepts, which manifest in three dimensional forms, from public sculpture to product and furniture design. Intrigued by the reactions and energy a piece can generate, he embraces Africa and the skills that are readily available indigenously, rather than trying to emulate foreign processes. Hefer sees beauty in the functional, the ordinary and discarded. He regularly challenges our relationships with everyday objects, inspiring us to look again. Making use of traditional techniques and crafts that focus on the hand rather than machinery, he adopts a collaborative approach to his work to ensure that age-old skills are preserved and kept relevant in a modern age.

Hefer has had numerous solo presentations of his work and is a two-time winner of the Design Foundation Icon Award (2013 and 2018). His first solo show, Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I, was presented at Southern Guild’s Cape Town gallery at the end of 2015, garnering rave local and international reviews. In 2016, he represented South Africa with Southern Guild at the inaugural London Design Biennale, which was followed by a solo exhibition at R & Company in New York in 2017. His Endangered collection of sculptural seating pods made of eco-friendly and recycled materials was exhibited to widespread acclaim at Design Miami/ Basel in 2018. Co-presented by Southern Guild and SFA Advisory, proceeds from the project benefited the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.


Contact: Southern Guild 

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