Within the last month I went on two separate beach cleans. This being the first time I have lived so close to the sea, it is also the first time that I have been exposed first hand to how much plastic waste exists on the beach, which mostly has washed up from the sea.
It’s sad and scary. If there is so much plastic waste on our beaches, then I struggle to imagine how much is in the sea. Although I am fortunate to have the drive, time, and passion to attend beach clean-ups (although I have to admit I struggled to make it out of the house for the last one), I know not everyone is as lucky.
As an artist and jewelry maker that uses old bike tubes as my medium, I am always curious how we can use “garbage” as the input material to make something beautiful and to send a message to people that our obsession with plastic is not all rainbows and puppy dogs, but in-fact it has some pretty wicked consequences, but we can do something! In my curious search to find what people were up to when it comes to beach garbage, I found three artists doing really cool stuff.
The first is a British artist, Jo Atherton, who uses found objects and waste discovered along the British coast time as her starting point. Her stuff is beautiful.
The second, is an artist, Susan Q Wood, based in Florida, who incorporates waste, both from the sea and land, into paintings. Her use of colours and the moods she creates with the use of patterns is pretty neat.
Finally, but not least, is Justin Gignac. Based in NYC, he started a project called NYC Garbage, where he literally packages garbage from the streets of NYC and sells it to people. It’s as much a story about the powers of good design, marketing and packaging (which composes a high percentage of the global waste) as it is about awareness around garbage and waste. But the fact that he actually gets people to pay money for waste, which no doubt sits in their homes as a visual reminder of the negative effects of our consumerist society is pretty cool.
Art always seems to provide a way to see hope, to see how we can use waste and garbage as a catalyst for change, to spark critical thinking and discussions around how we can better design our cities, lives, and habits. Do art, stay curious, and pedal on.