Two artists from Up Collective, a group of artists addressing environmental issues through art, have contributed installations to Torquay’s High Tide Festival. The works of Rachel Burke and Stacie Bobele examine the impact of plastic litter upon the marine environment and its wildlife.
Burke, an artist based in Geelong, is well known for her recycled lampshades made with pre-loved sewing patterns, but in this installation, Bloom, she has used recycled plastic shopping bags. Combining the bags with lampshade frames and solar lights, the artist has created a work which resembles jellyfish. The installation hangs from one of the old pine trees at Cosy Corner and hovers in the wind, much in the same way a school of jellyfish float under the water.
Stacie Bobele and Rachel Burke underneath Bloom. Image courtesy the artists.
Burke says she was inspired to create the work after a visit to the Marine Discovery Centre with her son’s kinder excursion.
“We’d learned how damaging plastic bags can be once they are floating about in the ocean,” she said. “Especially when they look a lot like jellyfish, animals like turtles eat them by mistake and suffer slow, painful deaths. I really want people to understand how easy it is for plastic bags to get caught up in our ecosystem and do real damage, particularly in seaside towns like Torquay”.
Rachel Burke, Bloom at night. Image courtesy the artist.
Within walking distance from Bloom, and located outside Tigerfish Gallery, Stacie Bobele’s installation Destination presents a range of bottled water on a specially designed marketing stand. The labels on the bottles feature the name of each bottle’s possible destination, rather than the source of the contents. With titles like ‘Five Gyres’ (referencing the massive spiralling currents in the oceans which are accumulating the world’s rubbish), ‘Landfill’ and ‘Plastic Beach’, Bobele’s message is clear. To emphasise the point, an accompanying marketing blurb gives statistics on marine wildlife deaths from plastic ingestion.
Stacie Bobele, Destination. Photo: artingeelong
“Bottled water in the first world is a perfect metaphor for the carelessly destructive lifestyles the media and advertising have convinced us are the key to beauty and happiness,” says Bobele. “The marketing of bottled water has to be the jewel in the crown of advertising. They’ve managed to sell the same product that comes from the tap at roughly 250 to 300 times the cost. All wrapped in a nice plastic container that will not break down, but will instead break up into smaller pieces of chemical waste.”
The High Tide Festival is on this weekend, 3 and 4 December at Torquay. Other artworks can be found on the Art Trail around Torquay. You can download a program of festival events from the Surfcoast Shire website.
More information about Up Collective can be found on the Plastic Bag Free Torquay website www.plasticbagfreetorquay.org.au.