There’s always one desperate, sandal-shod chancer at every party telling anyone who’ll listen that growing hemp is the only way the Earth is going to survive in a post-fossil fuel scenario. They are usually stoned, or in the process of becoming so, but maybe the ageing hippy is on to something.
Italian artists Formafantasma have been looking back to a time before the oil-based plastics that dominate modern living, before bakelite and all the subsequent advances. Based in the Netherlands, the pair’s collection Botanica is a historical study as much as an art project, delving into the techniques and materials of the 18th and 19th centuries. Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin’s creations consist of a botany textbook’s-worth of plant ooze, fibre and associated insect by-products you’ve never heard of – rosin, dammar, copal, and bois durci anyone?
These forgotten resources produce memorable results, often by splicing two contrasting resins together to great effect. The designs reflect their botanic background; peeling skins, leaf-like lids and petal decorations adorn the bowls and bottles that have an ancient Time Team trench quality to them. We*Do gallery in Bangkok is hosting Formafantasma’s exhibition through to March. We dig it, man.