Bizarre or trending subjects? Catch a break with our curiosity. Thirza Schaap created Plastic Ocean, a series raising awareness for the invasion of plastic into the oceans.

Toothbrushes, plastic bottles, straws… artist Thirza Schaap, a Dutch photographer based in South Africa, has gathered many plastic objects from the beaches of South Africa, the Island of St Helena, Mexico or Bali. An ecological gesture that quickly became an artistic performance: she collected the rubbish thrown back by the sea to compose still-lifes, which she then photographed. Plastic Ocean is a project I did to raise awareness about pollution caused by the use of plastic,” explains Thirza Schaap. “As a child, I used to walk on the beaches, picking up shells, feathers and branches with funny shapes. When I left Holland for South Africa, I reproduced the same ritual. Except that instead of collecting natural treasures, I filled my pockets with garbage – plastic thrown out of the ocean,” she says.

Between attraction and repulsion

By making artistic sculptures with the plastic objects she found, she proposes a double reading: “I invoke an emotional response in the spectator, between the attraction of the beautiful images and the rejection of a tragic ecological situation.” Her aesthetic compositions, coloured with warm tones, contrast with their tragic background. Thirza Schaap shares an ecological message while questioning our perception of beauty. “Our beaches are covered with plastic confetti. Yet there is nothing to celebrate,” she says. With this series of photographs, she invites the public to become aware of an urgent problem, while raising awareness about recycling. A series committed to denounce the production and over-consumption of plastic in our daily lives.

© Thirza Schaap