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Sculpture workshop highlights marine life threat

Marine debris collected from beaches in the state’s far-west have been given a meaningful purpose in a collaborative feat aimed at raising awareness about the threat that debris pose to marine life.

Over the past five years, Natural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara has worked with the Yalata community to undertake marine debris surveys and beach clean-ups along the coastline of Far West Eyre Peninsula and within the boundaries of the Great Australian Bight Marine Park.

Natural Resources AW Coast and Marine Officer Yasmin Wolf said marine debris pose great danger to sea life.

‘Southern Right Whales migrate annually to breed in the local marine park waters and it’s important to reduce the threat to them, and other sea life, of becoming tangled in rope and netting,’ Yasmin said.

‘As part of the surveys last year, more than 330 kilograms of debris was gathered from about a three kilometre stretch of coastline.’

The idea of recycling the debris to raise awareness about the threat it presents to marine life in local waters became a reality with a two-week Marine Debris Sculpture workshop held in the Tjutjuna (Ceduna) Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre Ceduna in September.

This was achieved through the collaborative efforts of Natural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara, Ananguku Arts and Culture Aboriginal Corporation (Ku Arts), Tjutjuna (Ceduna) Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre, the Australia Council, the South Australian Government's Indigenous Land Management organisation and the Yalata Community.

Artists from across the Far West Eyre Peninsula joined GhostNets Australia marine sculptors Sue Ryan and Gina Allain to take up a challenge to create something wonderful from a huge pile of marine debris. Local indigenous artist, Josephine Lennon, worked closely with Gina and Sue during the project to extend her skills and knowledge and show others.

The end result was the creation of a four metre long whale sculpture and a collection of small marine life sculptures made entirely of debris material. These were displayed in the memorial hall gallery space in the main street of Ceduna to coincide with the Ceduna Oysterfest.

‘The success of this workshop lies with the many people who worked together right from inception to make it all happen through to the amazingly creative artists themselves,’ Yasmin said.

The sculptures are now being transported to Adelaide to feature in the ‘Our Mob’ Indigenous Art Exhibition at the Adelaide Festival Centre from 24 October.