NGV Australia | Alice Potts In Conversation
NGV Australia | Alice Potts In Conversation

Karen Webster on Responsible Innovation, Collaboration and the Next Generation!

May 06, 2021

Earlier this year, LCI Melbourne Dean and Principal, Karen Webster, joined the National Gallery of Victoria for ‘Alice Potts in Conversation’. Joining Karen on the panel was moderator and NGV Senior Fashion Curator, Katie Somerville, MIMCO Senior Jewellery Designer, Sophie Begg and of course designer and bio-fabricator, Alice Potts.


“There was this whole change of our environment where all cars stopped running, everyone was having to shop locally and the world finally grew. I think that was the first opportunity where you suddenly start to realise that actually the world needed that time to regrow and replenish”

- Alice Potts


Presented in partnership with MIMCO for the 2021 Melbourne Fashion Festival, Alice Potts reflects on her project Dance Biodegradable Personal Protective Equipment (DBPPE) post COVID facemasks, currently on display in NGV Triennial exhibition. This talk is part of a series of conversations, presented alongside the NGV Triennial, a major exhibition displaying contemporary works from over 100 artists and designers across the world.

Alice Potts is not only a material innovator and bio-fabrication designer. She is a rising star in the world of biomaterials, named one of London’s most influential people in the category of Business: Fashion and Beauty at the 2019 Progress 1000 Gala.

Alice is currently head bio-material designer at Modern Synthasis in London and can be best recognised for her ‘Sweat Crystallisation’ works, that turned human sweat into a biocrystal for use in art and design projects. 

Dance Biodegradable, featuring 20 bio-plastic face masks made from food waste, emerged from Alice’s personal experiences as a designer during London’s first weeks of the pandemic. These masks act as critical design objects, responsibly innovated for an alternate future in balance with nature.

In conversation, Karen speaks on the power of cross pollination, interdisciplinary practice and its role for the future of creative industries. She considers how scientists, artists and designers are all problem solvers, who will be required to work together and collaborate for a conscientious and successful future.


“If you get creative minds working with the highest-level strategic minds, you’re going to have fantastic results”

- Karen Webster


To hear the captivating and transcontinental talk in full, enjoy the recording below!



The live event facilitated a discussion surrounding the concept of sustainability versus responsibility. Karen speaks on the concept of responsible innovation, where design and decision-making processes are filtered through the lens of responsibility to environment, culture and ethics.


“If we continue to sustain, we are actually going to destroy our world. We’ve now got to disrupt, we’ve got to turn backwards, we’ve got to reverse some of these concepts, we’ve got to look at new ways of doing things.”

- Karen Webster


Despite the challenges faced in 2020, Karen sheds light on the resilience and persistence displayed by the next generation of creatives. She posits that current students are mobilised and politicised change makers, ready to make a difference through their problem solving and creativity.


“Why work in a silo? The notion that you can only be in one space. We only need to be looking around the NGV to see the breadth of the work generally doesn’t fit in one particular space. Is it fashion or is it art? Is it interiors or is it industrial design? Where does it sit and does it even matter anymore?”

- Karen Webster

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