In recognition of National Marine Month, the Two Oceans Aquarium invites visitors to discover creatures from the mythological floating island of waste called Plastikos. Produced by Simon MAX Bannister, Plastikos is a unique exhibition that aims to raise awareness about waste – particularly plastic and micro plastic – and its impact on the oceans, all through art.
The works are made from reclaimed polyethylene plastic which Bannister collected by hand from the shorelines, roadsides and landfills of South Africa. Plastikos will be on display until the end of January 2011.
Situated in the Atlantic Ocean Gallery of the Aquarium, Plastikos includes giant sculptures and micro plastics in suspension. From the entangled mesh of rope and micro debris entitled “Tangled” to the massive 10-metre-long “Dragon”, the sculptures represent the monster of waste that must be confronted and overcome. The dragon and a manta ray are suspended above the touch pool. The manta ray piece is based on a trawl device which is being used in research on plastic pollution in the oceans.
Before being suspended, the manta creation was trawled around Table Bay harbour, collecting a variety of micro plastics and other litter, items which were then incorporated into the exhibition.
Other elements of Plastikos include a microcosm of a littered beach, illustrating how our beaches are turning to plastic as a result of the careless disposal and poor management of plastic waste. The items on display were all collected from Muizenberg Beach.
One of the cylindrical exhibits has been transformed into an eerie display of tangled and twisted rope interwoven with micro plastics to form a “ghost net”. Similar nets are found drifting in the major currents of the world, collecting smaller broken plastic pieces along the way.
According to Bannister, “I have always hunted waste ... My journey has taken me along the coastlines of South Africa, the relentless rugged and beautiful headlands driving me on. I have made it my mission to transform the waste that I find into an art form, giving these objects new value and meaning and making them the story of my journey.”
He continues, “We now know that the ocean’s living organisms have to compete more than ever to find food, and often mistake the colourful … plastics as tasty bites. Micro plastics now outnumber plankton in all [of] the major oceanic gyres. Seals, birds, fish and whales unwittingly face the risk of entanglement, choking or starvation because of our ignorance of what happens to our discarded waste.
“Reusing the waste I have removed from the natural environment as the medium for the artworks demonstrates the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle ... [All of this is] mixed with an environmental paradox to [help us] rethink our understanding of what plastic really is.”
The Two Oceans Aquarium urges all visitors to reduce, reuse and recycle: “While we aim to inform people about the marine environment, we also believe that we have to play a vital role in changing people’s behaviour. It is no longer enough to say to people, ‘Please don’t litter’ – we have to urge them to rethink their lifestyles and to realise the power they hold as consumers,” said Helen Lockhart, communications and sustainability manager for the Aquarium.
“Saying no to packaging, reducing our waste by reusing and recycling, and remembering that whatever we do on land, we do to the oceans, are just some of ways we can reduce our footprint on the planet.”
In conjunction with Plastikos, the Two Oceans Aquarium will be hosting the 5 Gyres team in December 2010. This team is involved in drawing attention to the gyres of plastic marine pollution in our oceans. In 2008, Dr Marcus Eriksen crossed the Pacific from California to Hawaii on a raft made of 15 000 plastic bottles.
By 2010, the team crossed three oceanic gyres – the North Pacific with Captain Charles Moore and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, and the North Atlantic and Indian Ocean gyres with their own organisation, 5 Gyres.
They are currently doing a South Atlantic trip to Cape Town as the fourth leg of their five-gyre expedition, and hope to arrive in Cape Town in early December. The Aquarium will host public talks by the team and it is envisaged that members of the public will have access to the research ship on a particular day. Details will be confirmed closer to the time.
For more information, please contact:
Communications and Sustainability Manager
Two Oceans Aquarium
Tel: 021 418 3823
To find out more about Bannister’s work, visit www.maxplanet.info.
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