I acknowledge and pay respect to custodians – past present and emerging – on Dharawal land where I live and conduct this creative practice. I extend this respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Sovereignty never ceded.

Bianca Hester


Bianca Hester is an artist, writer and educator engaged in place-based practice through artistic research. Her work investigates entanglements between colonial inheritance, extraction, environmental crisis, evolution and extinction evident within locations across the Australian continent. Employing relational feminist methodologies, she combines experimental fieldwork, engaging the geologic record (in archives and in situ), embodied site-writing, sculptural production, collaboration and performed actions to develop projects that unpack the material conditions of specific places, resulting in an expansive form of public art unfolding in dialogue with a range of interlocutors and participants.

Metabolic Scales by Open Spatial Workshop Cement Fondu

Metabolic Scales is a new video work by Open Spatial Workshop (Terri Bird, Bianca Hester, Scott Mitchell) that emerges from a long term research project involving fieldwork in Perth and the Pilbara between 2022–25. The project will culminate in a major exhibition at PICA in 2025 (curated by Hanna Matthews and Sarah Wall), as well as UQ Art Gallery (curate dby Anna Briers).

Metabolic Scales examines the biological, geological, and economic entanglements bound up in banded iron formations found on the unceded lands of the Nyamal, Kariyarra, Banjima, and Yindjibarndi, in the Pilbara region, Western Australia. The work presents the material record of transformations dating back more than 3 billion years when oxygen was released into the Earth’s Ocean through the microbial metabolisms of stromatolites. Amongst the first forms of life, stromatolites are microbialites constructed by colonies of microorganisms, such as cyanobacteria. The world’s oldest examples of fossil stromatolites are located near Marble Bar on unceded Nyamal land. The slow build-up of oxygen in the ocean caused iron rich minerals to precipitate out of solution forming layers on the deep seafloor. The iron ore extracted today, found in banded iron formations, resulted from the coupling of these microbial and mineralogical processes.

In a nonlinear sequence of newly created imagery and text, layered with found footage, Metabolic Scales seeks to unfold the complex biogeochemical interactions that take place in the heterogeneous environments where geology meets life. It points to how the politics of life are conditioned and constrained by the dynamics of these interactions, and how our rapidly collapsing future should be understood in relation to Earth’s deep material histories.

Acknowledgements: Nyamal Aboriginal Cooperation, W.A. Geological Survey, Museum of W.A., Martin Van Kranendonk (UNSW), Sarah Wall (PICA), Josephine Skinner (Cement Fondu) and Edwin Sitt.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body.

Installation view at Cement Fondu. Image by Jessica Maurer.
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