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Plastic Fantastic?

The Paradox of Polymers

Jennifer Crouch,
Dr. Michael Joyes
Brenda Keneghan

June 10, 2019

Upstairs @


64 Lant Street
London SE1 1QN

At Tickbird&Rhino we see the world a little differently.

On June 10th we explored the rich and complex world of plastics and discussed the pros & cons of polymers with a scientist, an artist and a conservator.

We tried to stay away from the current narrative of a dystopian future filled with doom and gloom (not always successfully but at least with a lot of humour) and talked about how this ever-present material impacts our lives through the experience of three people who work with it on a daily basis.

Brenda Keneghan is a materials scientist who works in the conservation department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Since the mid-20th century it has been noticed that objects made from certain types of plastics are degrading in museum and gallery collections world-wide.  Brenda brought us fantastic examples of plastics that haven't withstood the test of time. She showed us what happens to plastics as they age and talked about the museum tries to mitigate against their degradation by modifying storage and display conditions.

Dr. Michael Joyes has recently completed a PhD in Sustainable Chemical Technologies at the University of Bath researching bio-based plastics (plastics from plants). He now works as a polymer scientist for a plastic packaging company with a focus on sustainability.

Michael gave us the background information and the science of sustainability. He filled us in on the challenges we currently face with plastics and the potential solutions available to us through recycling and bio-plastics.

Jennifer Crouch is an artist and educator with a background in physics and medical illustration. She is currently a PhD candidate at University of Portsmouth and works with scientists at UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) and The Francis Crick Institute.


Jennifer talked about her recent work developing "phantoms" (pictured) - specially designed objects composed of multiple materials that simulate living tissue and are used to tune MRI and CT scanners in the field of medical imaging. Jennifer also discussed how bodily functions; pathology; and the weaving of biomedical data inform her work.

This was a Tickbird&Rhino Salon
an easy-going room full of fascinating people
engaging in great conversation about very interesting topics.

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