This piece explores the wonderful diversity of temperate marine life along southern Australia, and the unfortunate persistence of marine plastic pollution. Walk along our local beaches and you’d agree that seeing marine organisms washed ashore is a familiar sight. Unfortunately, plastic pollution is also getting washed ashore amongst it, even in what we’d call ‘pristine’ beaches. The bits of plastic stuck onto this painting were removed from some local Adelaide beaches. It goes without saying how widespread plastic is in our oceans, and how surprisingly abundant it is on our beautiful coastline here in southern Australia. These plastics further degrade into microscopic fragments that are small enough to pass through food webs and accumulate in tissues of animals even smaller than the ones shown here. Sadly, we now face the reality of observing plastic pollution wash up on our beaches with these beautiful, unique animals, and paints a reminder for this issue at a global scale.
Watercolour, gouache and ink on Arches hot-pressed paper (365 GSM, 102 cm x 65 cm). Beach litter stuck on with removable adhesive. Approximately 60 hours total - animal references obtained from a huge array of marine life books, my own photographs, online museum collections etc.
My entry for the SA Museum’s Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize. I wasn’t successful being selected in 2016, so fingers crossed this year!
Before people ask - yes the plastic can be removed. They’re been stuck on with non-acidic adhesive glue dots, which can peel away easily and not damage the painting (I also used several varnish coats to protect the front). This means the original can be sold either with or without the plastic message. I also plan to make non-plastic versions available as limited edition prints!