There is a new piece of art work hanging on the walls of Gaelscoil Mhainistir Na Corann this month. From a distance the circular piece is predominantly blue and green and is reminiscent of the view of earth from space. However, get up close and you will notice that it is a very unusual piece of art made up of hundreds of pieces of plastic pollution collected along the East Cork coastline. The piece, titled “Our Plastic Planet : Ár bPláinéad Plaistigh “ is a visual reminder of workshops with the students of both Fourth Classes at Gaelscoil Mhainistir Na Corann on the topic of ocean plastic.
The idea for the project came from Muinteoir Gráinne Uí Chéitinn and her colleagues at the Gaelscoil. Grainne explains the motivation.” “We all know that plastic is a problem on both land and sea. We believe in empowering and informing our students so that they can the problem and identify possible solutions. The students of our 4th classes now know that they can make a difference through better choices. Whether or not they make them is over to them but of course we hope they do.”
Frances Gallagher is an aquatic biologist living and working near Roches Point. Frances joined forces with artist and fellow climate change activist Grace Hamilton to design and deliver the workshops. “I have been aware of the growing problem of our sea birds and sea life ingesting plastics for many years and was more than happy to pass what I know on to the students. Many of the children already had a good grasp of the problem and the enthusiasm to tackle it was really heartening” says Frances.
Grace Hamilton was responsible for creating the final visual piece. Apart from the wall mount and fixings, every part of the piece was collected from the coast. Reflecting the reality of the pollution in oceans, more than 50% of the plastic found and used is fishing waste. Grace explains “During the workshops the students had the opportunity to explore plastic pollution through their own artwork. When I was creating the final piece I used the strands from fishing rope to literally weave the pieces together. I also used it to bind the outer ring which represents the earth’s atmosphere when seen from space. But look closely and you will identify many familiar objects which unfortunately have become ‘throw away’ in our society.”
Right enough, the piece consists of many plastic items from toothbrushes to betting shop pens, drinking straws to bottle tops. A miniature holy statue and a hair roller top the most unexpected list. Our Plastic Planet is a timely reminder to re-use where we can, to recycle if we can’t reuse and finally to never flush plastic items down the toilet.
Interested in similar workshops? Contact Frances and Grace firstname.lastname@example.org