perpetual pigments - sustainable colour/continuous culture

Perpetual Pigments exhibition curated by: Dr. Russell Kennedy,  Dr. Tonya Meyrick and Jacinta Kay
Perpetual Pigments exhibition curated by: Dr. Russell Kennedy, Dr. Tonya Meyrick and Jacinta Kay

From 19.10.2023 to 29.10.2023 Exhibition


ICoD is pleased to announce the Member Event Perpetual Pigments - Sustainable Colour/Continuous Culture organised by Deakin University. The exhibition is open from 19–29 October 2023.

Deakin University is proud to celebrate a ground-breaking, research initiative and supporting exhibition of renowned First Nations visual artists and printmakers. The Perpetual Pigments project tests the results of a world-first research project conducted by Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) and made possible by Sustainability Victoria. Framed within the circular economy conversation, IFM has developed a process to extract pigments from discarded textiles and fabrics made from natural fibres. Exhibited during 2023 Geelong Design Week, this participatory, ‘art meets science’, exploration displays the results of testing which explored the effectiveness of recycled pigments for visual art practice.

Inspired by the theme, ‘Sustainable colour continuous culture’, artists have produced artworks which have been painted with the recycled pigments produced by IFM. T-shirts and other fashion garments on display at the Perpetual Pigments have also been printed with recycled IFM pigments. Deakin’s Perpetual Pigments project is proud of the association with Rip Curl who has worked closely with IFM and the exhibition team to produce T-shirts featuring designs by Gamillaroi woman, Elly Chatfield and printed with IFM recycled pigments.

Kiri Tawhai; proud Noongar - Ngapuhi – NgatiTuwharetoa woman.

With Australian state government funding support from Sustainability Victoria, Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) has developed a method to effectively recycle colour pigments from textile waste. The project builds on our concept which received the H&M Foundation Global Change Award in 2017.

This simple but powerful approach addresses the huge challenges of recycling textiles due to the complexities of different colours, fibres and blends. The outcome of this research enables us to produce micropigments from textiles segregated by colour for a range of applications including pigments for printing/colouring textiles, vegan leather, and for the creation of art. To explore the application of our discovery we approached Designmind, Deakin University, International Design and Innovation Platform to facilitate introductions with potential aligned researchers within the university.

This initiative received further support from the Deakin Science and Society Network. This led to the birth of the Perpetual Pigments project which formed from a relationship between IFM and design research academics from Deakins’ School of Communication and Creative Arts (SCCA).

Framed within a Circular economy paradigm, the primary aim of this project was to produce pigments using green pre-processing and milling technology using minimum energy, time and resources.

Dr. Jenny Murray-Jones; proud Yorta Yorta – Baraparapa woman.

IFM researchers were able to engineer particles with microparticles while retaining the colour of the waste textile. Pigments are produced in both dry and wet grinding approaches. The size, shape and cohesion of particles are further refined to allow the printing of defined designs and maintain uniformity of colour and suitability for screen, spray and brush painting applications. Textile Recyclers Australia is the lead Industry partner of the project.

Australian Brand Rip Curl kindly agreed to participate as an Industry partner to test the outcomes of our research. Rip Curl worked with Gamilaroi artist, Elly Chatfield to produce a range of T-shirt designs, screen printed with the IFM developed recycled pigments. Other eminent First Nation artists were also invited as part of the Perpetual Pigments phase of the research which involved the creation of paintings using the IFM pigments. The artists were asked to produce works in response to the theme of Sustainable Colour, Continuous Culture. All artworks are on display at this wonderful exhibition.

Norm Stanley; proud Kurnai – Wotjabaluk man.

Rip Curl’s history tells a remarkable tale of two young surfers (Singer and Warbrick) who in 1969 pursued their dream of finding the perpetual wave and ultimate ride. Surfing jargon maybe, but Rip Curl’s spiritual connection with nature and its mantra of “The Search” aligns comfortably with the circular economy apparition of this research exploration.

Few companies can claim to have started a global industry. Rip Curl, an Australian-born, design-led company is acknowledged globally as the industry trailblazer, product innovator and market leader in surfing culture, retail and fashion. It came as no surprise when Group Development Manager, Alban Piot enthusiastically pledged Rip Curl’s support of the Perpetual Pigments project and its theme of Sustainable Colour and Continuous Culture. Rip Curl, as an Industry partner sponsored, produced and coordinated the printing of T-Shirts featuring designs by First Nation artist, Elly Chatfiefd. These examples provide evidence of the potential for commercial application of the IFM research. It also highlights how circular manufacturing processes can add product appeal and perceived value for environmentally conscious consumers. Perpetual Pigments thanks Rip Curl for their generous support of this important research into responsible manufacturing methods and processes.

T-Shirt design: Elly Chatfield; proud Gamillaroi woman
Model: Shay McMahon; proud Eora woman and Deakin University architecture student
Photography: April Brown and Dr. Tonya Meyrick


  • Opening of exhibition: 19 October 2023
  • Exhibition celebration event: 26 October 2023 (5 pm-7 pm)
  • Closing of exhibition: 29 October 2023
Perpetual Pigments exhibition curated by: Dr. Russell Kennedy,  Dr. Tonya Meyrick and Jacinta Kay
Perpetual Pigments exhibition curated by: Dr. Russell Kennedy, Dr. Tonya Meyrick and Jacinta Kay