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Drastic Plastic Action!
August 10, 2018 - November 30, 2018
Our Drastic Plastic Action! project aimed to convey an action through message – recycle, re-use and look after your environment locally and nationally!
Through our Plastic Fantastic project at the Priory Centre back in 2016, we were able to discover what happens to our plastics when they end up in the sea. Tragically, they very often end up in the stomachs of marine life and birds, who mistake the plastics for small creatures and we found that images showing this explicitly were very powerful in terms of conveying this message to the public.
When the Priory Centre approached us to deliver a follow-on project which resulted in some sculpture pieces, we immediately saw an opportunity to take our Plastic Fantastic message one step further and to again produce beautiful artworks which would make people stop and think, through a series of public workshops and the construction/display of large hanging sculptures.
Across 2 free public workshops in 2018 we aimed to make 2-3 large-scale sculptures which would hang from the ceiling of the Priory Centre Market Hall and raise the issue of plastics in an explicit and bold way.
The largest of these, a 3-metre-long fish, was designed and built by local commissioned artist Nicola Claxton, who constructed the fish’s skeleton and then gathered members of the public to help her, and the team add the final decorative touches. The workshop tables were full of people busily creating colourful paper scales for the body of the fish, which they then applied with watered down PVA glue, as well as applying wet, torn tissue to the body using a technique called Decoupage. The designs were beautiful, and all the participants were excited about coming along next week to spot their own handmade scales when the fish was up and hanging from the ceiling of the market hall.
The final touches were added when the body was turned over and local discarded plastics collected by Dartford Litterpickers were threaded onto the underbelly of the fish and shown coming from its mouth. These were visible from below when the fish was hung, and explicitly conveys the message about the impact plastic waste has on our sea creatures – how it ends up being mistaken for food, or caught around their bodies, often killing or maiming them irreparably.
Aside from the fish, participants were helping Sue with the Jellyfish sculpture. The workshop element was in addition to much sewing work painstakingly undertaken by Sue Holmes, a local DAN artist, who created the sculpture body from reclaimed net curtains using the traditional ‘Suffolk Puff’ technique. She was assisted in the creation of this by members of the public and by the Dartford Science and Technology College students, who on their Community Day delighted in helping Sue make the baby jellyfish which hang from the base of the main feature.
The puffin was also made by Nicola, with the body made from wet willow, the wings from wire mesh while the coverings were black and white bin bags with paper attachments.
As well as these main sculptures, we encouraged the general public to get involved in making paintings/pictures/drawings and adding their thoughts to the work, some of which we displayed alongside the sculpture on a printed display board.
The project was funded by KCC Councillor Jan Ozog, and opened by the Mayor of Dartford.