A lot of times, it’s hard to understand the scale of something like plastic pollution. Large numbers often lose value, because most people go through their day without actually seeing a visual impact of what the number actually means. Plastic waste as a medium of art helps to highlight the issue by giving it a physical form. Artwork is a tool that generates viewer consciousness, and has always had an emotional impact on it’s audience.
“Bristol Whales” is one such example that uses scale to exemplify it’s message. One time use plastic such as water bottles are used and thrown everyday, and we fail to recognise how they all add up. Artist Sue Lipscombe collected over 100,000 waste bottles from the Bristol 10k and Bath Half Marathon, to create a ‘sea’ of bottles, a stark contrast to the giant willow whale sculpted swimming in the plastic waves, a statement on plastic waste’s effect on the marine wildlife, while also simultaneously giving us a comprehensible view of how much waste a simple marathon event can produce. The numbers alone lose their value, but presented in this form allows us to take a moment to think and actualise what 100,000 bottles actually mean.
Vida Toxica by Alvaro Soler Arpa, also carries the same message, and brings the issue to life in a more gruesome and dark manner. The instalment is a set of fourteen sculptures, and all of them use real animal bones and plastic waste, to create this amalgamation of man made and natural, juxtaposing the real bones against the brightly coloured plastic waste that form the insides of the animal. Art like this is impactful, and leaves an image in the viewers mind, and works well to create awareness. It is both disturbing and thought provoking, because it gives you a small truth to the harsh reality nature does face, because fauna do end up ingesting these materials, and we fail to recognise how harmful that is because we never see it in front of us, and are constantly desensitised to these issues now more than ever.