From a distance the
curving white whale skeleton and the dangling, colourful jellyfish tentacles
look beautiful – but move in close and the aesthetic gives way to something
completely different. Far from being natural wonders, the artworks are made of
plastic bottles, rubber tubing, ropes, cans, foam and myriad other remnants of
The stunning (and
disturbing) exhibition, Washed Ashore, in the Pachyderm Building at the San Francisco Zoo, depicts 14 giant sea life
sculptures created from the thousands of pounds of garbage that have washed up
on Pacific Ocean beaches over the last three years.
“You can find this
much garbage on any beach in the world,” said lead artist Angela
Haseltine-Pozzi. “It’s horrifying.”
And it’s meant to
Each one of the 14 animals represented –
from invertebrates to marine mammals – is threatened in some way by marine
debris. Plastic is getting into the food chain and trapping animals across the
hundreds of volunteers to process the rubbish and turn it into usable building
materials, designing the exhibits to be both educational and interactive.
Grab a couple of
drumsticks and pound on the Styrofoam coral reef; run your fingers along the
corrugated rubber skin of the 10ft long sea eel; squeeze and crinkle the
plastic bottles and bags that make up the giant sea anemone; and stand inside giant
jellyfish tentacles, spinning them around you. Next to each piece is signage that describes the
animal and the sculpture’s materials.
The San Francisco Zoo artworks
are part of a larger 30-piece exhibition that is travelling around the United
States this summer. Other sculptures can be found at Sea Worlds in Orlando,
Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and San Diego, California, all in hopes of raising
awareness of the pollution, especially plastic, that litter the world’s oceans.
“I consider the ocean a sacred place that I have loved my whole
life,” said Hazeltine-Pozzi. “I hope the exhibit makes people more aware of
what they are tossing away, and where.”
The San Francisco
Zoo exhibition runs until 23 September.
Lovato is the San Francisco Localite