Elissa Gjertson’s artistic journey has meandered through a variety of forms over the past 40+ years, with a particular interest in global and indigenous art.
It was her move to Lombok, Indonesia in 2019, however, that spurred the inception of her new studio, Plastik Kembali, as she explored her interest in creating art from plastic waste.
Today Elissa conceptualises new ways to reimagine waste materials of all types, from plastic and textiles to natural fiber and wood – working closely with her team to translate her concepts into artworks that honour Indonesian artistic traditions. Her creative inspiration pulls from a vast bank of traditional and contemporary folk-art techniques as well as modernist art, abstract expressionism, and color field painting.
Plastik Kembali operates closely with their local community waste infrastructure program, as well as collaborates with plastic banks and recycling centres around the archipelago to source the recycled plastics that become the base materials for all their artworks. Recycled textiles are sourced from hospitality and textile company partners in Java and Bali and from individual donations.
Elissa credits her family for her artistic enthusiasm. A major, formative influence includes learning traditional fibre arts, such as macrame, cross-stitching, and knitting from her grandmothers, aunts and mother. Perhaps this is why Plastik Kembali’s art showcases an affinity for these traditionally feminine art forms that are practiced by various folk artists worldwide.
Today, Plastik Kembali consists of Elissa and her team of nearly 30 local artisans, the majority of whom are women. While the collective and their work has grown in scale, their goal remains to address one of Indonesia’s biggest challenges – plastic waste – through one of its greatest strengths, traditional folk art.