Born Wurrung/Sydney 1985

Lives and works in Warrung/Sydney

Kate Scardifield has a research driven and experimental studio practice traversing textiles, sculpture, installation and video. Her work intertwines material investigations with archival and collection focused research, and her practice is underpinned by interdisciplinary exchanges that trace materials through various states of transformation, generating different types of encounters with materials and different forms of material knowledge. Her current projects are working with biomaterials and textiles as propositional instruments for navigation, transmission and communication.

Kate is the artist in residence at the Climate Change Cluster (C3) and is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building.

Kate Scardifield: renewing and transforming By Patrice Sharkey

Scardifield places monumental material forms in the environment, drawing attention to changing weather patterns and atmospheric conditions by charting the shifting states of her responsive objects. As a method of visualising air, Scardifield proposes alternative apparatus for cartographic mapping, weather observation and information relay or semaphore. Scardifield has continued her speculative material thinking through a current collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney’s Climate Change Cluster (C3). C3’s work is linked to algae biotechnology, and the development of algae and their derivates into a green and clean alternative to fossil fuels. She is interested in building her knowledge of these special marine plants and how they capture and lock away carbon dioxide, with her central medium for the Biennial being biomass composed of harvested and pressed algae, a waste by-product collected from aquaculture farming and oyster shell waste. Biotechnologies hold great potential for tackling the global need for sustainability and, when we reconceptualise freedom in the context of the climate emergency, Scardifield’s work signals how we might achieve ecological resilience.

If museums are containers for conservation, care and repair, then we also need to think through the role and responsibility of cultural institutions in relation to climate. Installed inside the depths of the gallery, Scardifield’s biomaterials beg the question, ‘what if the museum became a site for carbon storage?’ They are forecasts for change, in terms of how we can power civil societies.

As part of her big-picture thinking on how our institutions might evolve, Scardifield has also constructed site-specific sails for AGSA’s portico. Made in emergency orange from recycled synthetic material, which will outlive us, the soft sculptural form billows and flits at all who pass by the North Terrace boulevard. Responding to the air and wind, it becomes a beacon, alive to its conditions, as well as a public warning: we must pay attention to our environment and start to change our relationship with the material world.


This project has been supported by the State Herbarium of South Australia, Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, and the Climate Change Cluster (C3), University of Technology Sydney.

Many thanks to Pacific Bio Australia, Sydney Sailmakers, Appellation Oysters, Sail Exchange and Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.

The artist would like to thank Sebastian Goldspink, Erin Davidson, Nahum McLean, Peter Ralph, Carolyn Ricci, Helen Vonow, Casey Ayres, Robin Hearfield, Danielle Devery, Liam Garstang, Gabrielle Cowley, Nico Neveux, Bettina Crafoord, and Tim Schork.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.