Exhibition shines a light on plastic plague in our oceans

Exhibition shines a light on plastic plague in our oceans

UOW alumni use art to raise awareness of global scourge

A new exhibition featuring the art of University of Wollongong alumnus is shining a light on the threat plastic poses to our marine ecosystem – and the damage it has already inflicted.

Plastic Life includes the work of photographer Aristo Risi and textile artist Eliza Tame, artistic collective Reuse Reefcycle, and Shantel Cvetkovski, who each offer their perspective on the impact of plastic on the ocean.

The debut, multimedia exhibition opens on Thursday 23 May at Ocean Space Collective in Wollongong, and will run for three weeks.

The opening night will feature guest speakers from the University of Wollongong, including Dr Karen Raubenheimer, from the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, whose is a lead policy researcher into marine plastic litter for the United Nations Environment Program.

Laura Wells, a renowned science communicator and UOW alumna, will also speak at the Plastic Life event, alongside Paul Hellier from Peloton Against Plastic.

Aristo Risi, a scuba diver who has travelled the world photographing the scourge of plastic on marine life, said it was an honour to showcase his work and raise public awareness of how damaging our reliance on plastic is to the ocean.

“The art I produce is a type of ecological art. I have a deep connection to nature and with the ocean in particular. I’ve travelled all over the world, and the one constant, when I’m diving in new places, is the presence of plastic in our oceans,” said Mr Risi, who graduated from UOW with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Multimedia).

“I feel very lucky to be able to show the public my work but also saddened that it is necessary to draw attention to plastic pollution in the first place.

“More than a million marine animals are killed each year because of plastic in the ocean. Our responsibility as humans is to act as environmentally conscious beings who are sharing this planet with more than one species.”

Dr Raubenheimer, who has been working on an action plan to eliminate plastic pollution in the ocean, said we must start tackling the problem in our own backyards.

“Marine litter is a local issue, but there is much we can do at the global level to help. This is particularly necessary for those countries, such as small island developing states, that find so much litter on their shores originating from other countries,” Dr Raubenheimer said.

“Progress is being made within domestic and international policy frameworks, including the trade of our household plastic waste to developing countries. But we need the public to keep up the pressure on our policy-makers. Consumers can’t do it alone.”

Photo credit: Aristo Risi