Plastic in the ocean… Plastic in our bodies. – by Kyna Hodges

“You are what you eat’ this has been repeated to us so that we think about the food we consume, but what are we made up of in the age of the Anthropocene?”

Project Description

‘Leach’ attempts to create a resonance between form and material. The form is the death mask. The material is plastic.

Plastic is a powerful current within consumerism. It makes our lives easier in many ways but there is a growing body of research revealing that plastic is not just a durable inert substance but in fact one from which harmful and sometimes deadly chemicals and microplastics leach into our food and our bodies.

These substances are flushed into our waterways and oceans, to add to the already critical levels of plastic that reside there. They then make the full loop back into our water and food. The shiny new surfaces that are purported to enhance our lives may, in fact, be eroding them, along with other life on earth.

‘Leach’ plays with the double-natured qualities of plastic, and our relationships with it by using melted plastic packaging cast into death masks.


The Universal Sea – Pure or Plastic!?

One of the thing’s that started me on this project was seeing an article online* that advocated a plastic-free life. I decided to give it a week trial. One week turned into four months, the unexpected wealth of knowledge that I gained formed the groundwork for my death mask project. I hope the piece encourages people to think both about plastic and about themselves, which is the first step toward change. However, paired with my three actions this will take these thoughts even further.

Plastic from food packaging is the biggest contributor to plastic waste and therefore the plastic in our seas. Two ways of approaching this issue are to find biodegradable alternatives and/or begin to shift the way we look at food. I will be working with local food groups in cities to look into these alternatives and also to share my experience of living a plastic-free life.


Three Actions

I am proposing three different events that would involve the public.

These three events will be carried out at each location: UK, Italy, Portugal

Action 1

The first would be a workshop on a plastic-free life, informing and sharing the knowledge gained from my own experience, also inviting anyone to share their own stories. Through sharing these stories it would become evident on how and where plastic crops up in each individuals life and how ingrained this is in today’s society. I will also ask people to write down a list of all the plastics that they have come into contact with that day then asking them to revise the list after I reveal some unexpected plastic culprits. (What about taking them out on a practical mission to find plastic freeways of shopping?)

This first intervention will be made in conjunction with other networks in that country: such as Glasgow Community Food Network, UK, Descalcas Cooperativa Cultural, Portugal, and another community in Italy. This will aid in building momentum for the project but also in establishing and connecting an international network. The information gained from research in that country and with these organisations would be shared with participants.

Action 2

I would then do a series of face casting sessions to make more recycled plastic death masks. This would involve the trust and bond building exercise of getting your face cast by and with another. The act of making would also open up a space for discussion and sharing of facts among participants. Building upon the previous session.

Action 3

The last element would be to display the community’s death masks in a public place accompanied by the stories and facts gathered from the plastic-free workshop sessions. Depending on location they could be floated on the ocean, or arranged to face the nearest shoreline, no matter the distance.

In addition to this there would be a use of social media platforms; Facebook and Instagram, to reach a larger demographic. On Facebook there would be a profile picture skin of the masks, in the same way, that people showed their support for equal rights, they could do so for a plastic-free life, this would be coupled by the use of the hashtag #madeofplastic which would link into Instagram.

Documentation of the process would be made where possible.
(optional content for me* Creating a sense of permanence through wet plate collodion portraiture project with the masks.)


Kyna Hodges is a Visual Artist and Photographer.

“Physicality and collaboration play a large part in my work. I aim to utilise the senses to provide a space that both challenges and enables a rethinking of entrenched beliefs and patterns of thought and behaviour; a space that connects to and has the potential for creating new narratives.”

Communication Design, Glasgow School of Art, 2017.

Galleries/ Festivals

Human Rights Arts Festival 2017: An exploration of human rights through the perspective of artists, JDA Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sura Medura Residency: Moving Out , Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
Room to Manouvre, Red Gallery, London, UK
Degree show, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, UK
WHIP show, The Light House, Glasgow, UK
Congregation, SWG3, Glasgow, UK
Eden Festival, Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway, UK 2014 – 2016

Artist’ Website: kyna-hodges