Artist Thirza Schaap Creates Beachcombed Sculptures Out of Plastic Ocean Trash
For the past five years, Thirza Schaap has been creating delicate sculptures out of plastic debris from beaches on the South African coastline. The artist, who divides her time between Cape Town and Amsterdam, has named the project Plastic Ocean.
Plastic Ocean combines sculpture with photography and examines our changing relationship with plastics and the increasing and overwhelming presence they have in our lives.
The images show a clash between worlds, offering minimal and aesthetically pleasing compositions which, on closer inspection, in-still a sense of ecological grief. Plastic Ocean questions consumption, idolatry and what it is we value in our lives today. The effect is a quirky, playful and pop art paradox.
At a first glance, the debris do not disgust us. On the contrary. Their dainty look almost seems to gloss over the ugliness of all the plastic pollution on our beaches. But only for an instant. Our initial attraction, soon fades.
Plastic Ocean provides a kind of Vanitas for the 21st century. Traditional icons of mortality, ephemerality and wealth have been traded out for bottles, baskets and bowls: single-use items which are used and discarded, now only existing as empty vessels of destruction.
“The objects are disgusting and ugly in a way, but sometimes they could also look pretty,” she says, “because of the time they’ve been in the ocean, with colours faded by the sun.”