At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Plastic debris is currently the most abundant type of litter in the ocean, making up 80% of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. While art cannot solve the astronomical problem of oceanic waste management, it can certainly provoke one to be more mindful of their littering habits. Art as a form of activism is an incredibly powerful tool to question the existing power structures and bring about a social change of any kind. Art has the capacity to communicate certain emotions which can’t be articulated through speech. It can be an emotionally stimulating experience that can help mobilize people to take action against unjust practices.
An artist of Australian origin named Leeanne Splatt who lives in a quaint coastal town in Japan has been raising awareness about plastic pollution through her artistry. Leeanne has combined her love for art with environmental activism to create a variety of art pieces with ocean waste as the raw material.
“I started creating beach art in 2019 to promote awareness and to have a little fun while cleaning up my local beach. I am really excited about the growing community of people who are working on solutions and awareness of marine debris globally,” said Leanne on her Instagram.
Going through her Instagram is an interesting experience. Her posts showcase a range of vibrant and colorful figurines- crabs, robots, and Japanese dolls wearing traditional kimono attire. But the fact of the matter is- this seemingly cheerful art has been created with plastic waste which is responsible for the acute degradation of ocean health. One of her Instagram posts depicts a shattered heart made up of bits and pieces of red-colored plastic collected from around the beach. The piece is called “broken heart”.
“This piece represents the way I feel about the damage we are causing to the environment by discarding plastic. On a more positive note – each piece removed from the beach is no longer a danger to marine life.” The caption reads.
Much of Leeanne’s activism is geared toward helping children understand the consequence of discarding plastic waste. She initiated the “Marine Friends Project” for the same purpose which conducts an array of activities like holding workshops on nature conservation and SDG, beach clean-up drives, teaching children how to transform waste into art, deliver ocean art photo collections to children. Sensitizing the future generation towards the current climate crisis is extremely important while also being careful not making it all sound too depressing. Leeanne’s art manages to accomplish this perfectly.
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In 2021, Spartt published a children’s booklet titled “Robot & Boo the Beach Cleaning Crew”. It conveys the importance of cleaning the beaches through the two main characters Robot and Boo who are made out of beach litter themselves.
“I created this book to raise awareness and help show the potential to reuse plastic waste. It’s all about working together, and each character is created from beach-found plastics.”
Leeanne’s work is truly commendable and inspiring. Her work is educational, meaningful, and fun for kids. Please support her on Instagram @castawaycolor