Bloom is made from over 12,000 plastic lids zip-tied together to form over sixty organic shapes. The pieces were floated together on the Derwent River at the Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park (GASP) for the Flotilla project as part of the biennial Glenorchy Works Festival in 2012.
The plastic tops used are typically discarded without a thought, end up in landfill, and are rarely recycled. But because they float they also have a great chance of circulating in waterways if discarded inappropriately. Placing these plastic tops in a seemingly precarious position in the natural environment created an uneasy tension provoking conversation and interest about how the way we live and consume impacts on the local environment. Working with the inherent shape and colours of the plastic tops created a bloom effect mimicking the natural environment in which it was placed.
The new GASP boardwalk is situated on the Derwent River, and has given many people a new perspective on the river environment, allowing them to consider what it is that is coming into the river from our built environment. However, the foreshore is not a natural state as such, with much of the original shoreline being reclaimed, and the boardwalk dissecting water and land. So while the plastic tops seem out of place in 'nature', they create a playful interruption between the natural and built environments.
There is a great amount of interest in plastic pollution and particularly the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. However, we can easily overlook that much of the plastic that ends up in the ocean started out in a waterway after being discarded inappropriately within the built environment. Plastic is now a much-maligned material accumulating around us, and although it originates from petro-chemicals derived from oiled formed from living matter buried millions of years ago, it does not break down into the environment like scientists once believed it would.
Although plastic lids are recyclable, they rarely are, and apart from slipping into waterways, most end up buried in landfill. Yet a tonne of plastic is a tonne of plastic. Collected and recycled they can still contribute to reducing the amount of plastic needing to be derived from petrochemicals. Industrialized societies continue to create more and more elusive categories for marketing 'new' products each year, only matched it seems by the ever increasing categories of 'rubbish'. Rubbish is as rubbish does. Its everywhere.
The artwork is fundamentally a re-presentation of post-consumer materials, but it is certainly created with intention and attention to an art-form; it isn’t simply a pile of rubbish tipped into the river. Although the latter could create intense reactions and conversations about consumerism and the environment, it could also be divisive and inaccessible. Creating an aesthetically pleasing and playful artwork, however, can be interesting and accessible, allowing an opportunity to contemplate issues that are in fact deadly serious.