The Becalmed Heart documentation

The Becalmed Heart

Underbelly Arts Festival August 1-2, 2015

The Becalmed Heart is a large scale immersive installation that invites audiences to enter a world created from refuse.

Created from over 20,000 plastic grocery bags, The Becalmed Heart is an meditation upon our waste and the impact of human intervention on nature. Inspired by images of vast plastic islands floating across the surface of the ocean and sprawling landfill sites this project attempts to capture the grotesque beauty of devastated landscapes.

The Becalmed Heart transports you to a world formed entirely from plastic, as you explore the dark tunnels and vast fields you find shelters and evidence of a human presence since vanished from the world. As you are drawn further into this eerie landscape, it remains ambiguous whether the plastic subsuming the site has has grown or been constructed, and whether the people whose traces you stumble upon were creators or caretakers.

“…a powerful reflection on consumption…our relationship with nature and the impact of climate change, executed in the most brutally beautiful way.” - Fenella Kernebone

The 20,000 plastic bags used in this project are post-consumer waste collected from friends, family and recycling bins. To ensure the bags remain recyclable each of the 20,000 bags was hand tied together by the artists and a very hard working team of volunteers. At the conclusion of this project we will recycle our 20,000 bags into durable plastic outdoor furniture through our project partner, Replas.


Brienna Macnish
lead artist, creative concept
Clare McCracken
key collaborator, visual designer
Robert Jordan
key collaborator, sound designer, composer
Chris Page
lighting designer

Jessica Richardson
stage manager

Vikk Shayen
Andrew Ferris
photography, image 1
Ed Hurst
of Spiffing Pics
timelapse photography
Ashleigh Berdebes

We would also like to acknowlege the contributions of the artists and crew involved in earlier developments of The Becalmed Heart. Matthew Adey (lighting designer), Natalie Breakwell (crew), Sarah Grey (crew), Amy Jones (performer), Juliet Hindmarsh (performer), Dara Klein (performer), Angelique Murray (performer), Ruby Mathers (performer and visual designer) and Jacob Warner (performer) and Matthew Whitty (performer).


Matt Adey, Adoni Astrinakis, Bec Astrinakis, Stephanie Barham, Andrew Ferris, Mark Felder, Kasey Gambling, Kam Greville, Toyah Horman, Meredith Horman, Helen King, Carl Larsen, Katerina Larsen, Will Larsen, Peter Larsen, John Larsen, Deb Larsen, Chris McCracken, Kate McCracken, Hannah Macnish, Carey Mudge, Phuong Ngo, Ann Reynolds-Smith, Ellen Strasser, Tahlee Rouillon, Marg Sneddon, Alisa Tanaka-King, Drew Thomson, Imogene Tudor, John Twyford, Molly Warren and our Underbelly Arts Festival volenteers

A special thank you to Chrisssie Robinson and Sue Shee and Kurt Luttin the chief bag collectors!

Thank you to the following RMIT School of Art in Public Space Masters candidates for their significant contribution sorting, counting and tying bags. Rose Hawker, Jessica Jia, Huoqing Lu, Esther Konings-Oakes, Clare Walton, Alex Yue.

Supporter logos

The Becalmed Heart project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria. The development assisted has been assisted by the City of Melbourne through the Arts House 4 Walls initiative. We would also like to acknowlege our industry partners, the Red Group who donated recycleables to the project and Replas whose recycled plastic furniture was featured in the work. RMIT University through the Art in Public Space program supported this work by providing studio space throughout our final stages of development.