My 2018 practice has culminated in a final piece which involves 2-D and 3-D elements, makes use of waste material, and includes text. I have experimented with media a lot this year and I like to think this piece represents the result of that experimentation.
The canvas was made entirely of straws, attached together with electrical tape, and I used acrylics to paint the landscape. The painting process was difficult because paint does not stick to plastic well, and the straws made for a very uneven surface to paint on. However, after priming both with a few coats of slightly diluted white acrylic, the process was much easier.
One of the main ideas behind this work is a profound appreciation for the grandeur and beauty of nature, and sadness for the creatures that are poisoned by plastic pollution. The next idea is of plastic as an enemy of nature. The piece condemns its reputation as ‘useful’ and suggests re-using it for art, rather than throwing it away. It represents hundreds of straws and thousands of microbeads that could have ended up in the ocean, had they not been made into art. It claims plastic for the art world and prevents the damage it could have caused. There are also ideas about of the purpose of art, and how people see it as useless. The work is a marriage of political art and landscape painting and aims to portray art as something that can solve problems as a result of its uselessness.
There is definitely a unity between the materials I’ve used and the central message. Using plastic in a way that contradicts its intended purpose reinforces the environmental message.
This artwork has been inspired by the work of Khalil Chishtee, who creates life-sized human sculptures out of plastic bags. Chishtee’s realistic, dramatic, emotive sculptures gave artistic qualities to an otherwise waste material, which was a valuable inspiration for this term’s work. I love the idea of giving waste materials a ‘second chance’ as an art piece. In this way, I was also greatly inspired by the art movement of Arte Povera. I have also been inspired by Olafur Eliasson’s large-scale, immersive, and often environmental pieces – his works are huge and play with the concepts of space and size. Mariele Neudecker’s 3-D sculptures in water tanks have also informed my practice, because they depict the natural world in an eerie yet beautiful way, and yet draw attention to the properties of various materials. This is really relevant to my Spring and Summer practice.
Throughout my practice, I have read various articles about plastic waste and gathering statistical information about plastic. I have found that when it comes to the text element of my work, basing the writing around a statistic makes the argument more compelling, which is why I’ve included the disturbing statistic about 100 million sea creatures dying annually from plastic waste.