Artwork made of ocean plastic on display at Customs House

Tuesday, 09 October, 2018

Artwork made of ocean plastic on display at Customs House

An art installation comprising 2255 orange spheres made from 120 kg of ocean debris has been suspended from the ceiling of Sydney’s Customs House, where it will remain until 28 October.

Presented as part of the annual Art & About Sydney program, Wasteland makes a powerful statement about how human consumption impacts the environment. It is produced by creative studio Mundane Matters, which designs digital media and experiences aimed at inspiring positive environmental and social change.

Mundane Matters Creative Director Danling Xiao said she was inspired to produce the artwork by a conservation experiment in Costa Rica, where 12,000 tonnes of orange peels were dumped on a desolate site, resulting in a vibrant forest two decades later.

“I thought this was an incredible example of how items we waste can transform our environment positively,” Xiao said.

“I wanted to recreate this by recycling ocean plastic, which is now one of the biggest environmental problems in the world.”

Mundane Matters worked with Eco Barge, an organisation that recovers ocean plastic near the Great Barrier Reef. Around 120 kg of debris was used for the project — a mix of plastic bottle lids, plastic bottle necks, a broken chair, a broken kettle and micro-plastics, which are harmful to marine life. The material was ground down then melted with some virgin plastic before being moulded to form the artwork.

City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the artwork is a call to action for everyone to reduce their waste, noting, “Art provides a powerful platform to draw attention to the crisis caused by plastic choking our oceans.

“Here at the City, we are working toward a target of ‘zero waste’, which means diverting at least 90% of waste from landfill. We also support measures to reduce single-use plastics and are calling for aggressive action from the NSW Government, the only state government yet to commit to a ban on plastic bags.

“I am sure Wasteland will inspire many to think about the devastating impact that plastic has on our environment and encourage them to find practical ways of reducing their own impact.”

Wasteland is part of the City of Sydney’s year-round Art & About program of events and temporary art projects in unusual spaces throughout the city. More details on Wasteland and Art & About projects are available at

Images by Katherine Griffiths.

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