Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right More than 120 kgs of ocean plastic is hanging from the ceiling of Sydney’s Customs House
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More than 120 kgs of ocean plastic is hanging from the ceiling of Sydney’s Customs House

Artist Danling Xiao installing 'Wasteland'
Photograph: Katherine Griffiths Artist Danling Xiao installing 'Wasteland'

When we think of the ocean, we don’t really think about the huge amount of the rubbish and pollution which is floating all around the world. Artist Danling Xiao from Mundane Matters decided to raise awareness of the issue out of the water by recycling ocean plastic found off the Whitsundays Islands into ‘Wasteland’, a suspended installation of over 2,000 plastic orange spheres.

Rubbish collected and used in the artwork includes plastic bottles, a broken chair and kettle and microplastics, tiny plastic particles less than five millimetres-long which come from disintegrated plastic products or, surprisingly, are found in many health and beauty products like toothpaste. These small pieces are particularly dangerous to marine life as they are swallowed easily but don’t digest. Xiao melted down the plastic debris to create thousands of plastic balls.

Person looking up at artwork of 2,000 plastic spheres


Looking up at 'Wasteland' hanging in Customs House
Photograph: Katherine Griffiths



Xiao says, “I thought this was an incredible example of how items we waste can transform our environment positively”. The creative studio worked with Eco Barge, a company which has collected ocean waste off the coast of North Queensland for nine years, collecting over 180,000 kilograms of debris, and giving more than 80 turtles a safe place to swim in their rescue centre.

This is not the first time Mundane Matters has questioned the impact of our lifestyle on the natural environment. From 2015-2017, the studio created ‘Fruit and Vegetable Vases’, a series of photographs of fruit and veg shaped in entertaining ways, bringing attention to food waste and our consumerist society. In ‘Wasteland’, the visual representation of what we’re doing to our environment is a powerful one, and it’s not to be missed.

See ‘Wasteland’ at Customs House from October 6-28. Open Mon-Fri 8am-midnight; Sat 10am-midnight; Sun 11am-5pm.

If you're still feeling arty, check out our list of the best exhibitions in October