Artist who picks up marine debris picks up mayoral prize

SMH. 22nd Of October 2017. Marina De Bris has made an artwork called  "inconvenience store" which is part of Sculpture by the Sea in Bondi. The artwork is made from all the garbage that Marina has found by sea. Story: Helen Pitt. Photo: DOminic Lorrimer
SMH. 22nd Of October 2017. Marina De Bris has made an artwork called "inconvenience store" which is part of Sculpture by the Sea in Bondi. The artwork is made from all the garbage that Marina has found by sea. Story: Helen Pitt. Photo: DOminic Lorrimer

At first when visitors come to Marks Park at Bondi to see this year's Sculptures by the Sea exhibition, they wander into an art installation called an "Inconvenience Store" thinking it is a store front. It doesn't take long before they realise everything inside is made from garbage that has been washed up on Bronte, Tamarama and Coogee beaches and refashioned into "art with a message", according to its maker.

From 26 Santa caps that washed up on the beach in the wake of Christmas day, to hundreds of tiny plastic fish soy sauce bottles, these and other items of marine debris go into the art work of the artist who calls herself Marina DeBris. Odd thongs, sunglasses, takeaway coffee cups, bottle caps and cigarette butts are the most common forms of marine pollution she finds on her daily walks on Sydney's eastern suburbs beaches.

Her idea to repurpose rubbish came to her when she lived at Bondi Beach in the 1990s and then moved back to her native US, to California's Venice Beach.

"I saw the beaches there too were filthy with washed up trash so since 2009 I've been picking up litter and making art with it to deliver a message," she said.

Not only does she pick up litter, but this weekend she has also picked up the Waverley Council mayor's prize and the Sydney Water's environmental sculpture subsidy. Her couture line, known as "trashion", which was a hit in the 2015 Sculptures by the Sea, will feature at the Beyond Plastic Pollution - Pathways to Cleaner Oceans Conference at Darling Harbour on October 31.

Her win comes in the wake of a new Australian feature film released in cinemas earlier this month, Blue, which claims by 2050 there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean and that already half of all marine life has been lost in the past 40 years. The movie asks people to make a pledge to pick up three pieces of litter every time they go to beach, a message they hope visitors to Sculptures by the Sea will heed.

The "Inconvenience Store" is one of the 104 sculptures between Bondi and Tamarama, which proved popular with patrons on the exhibition's first weekend.

The NSW government also announced this weekend it would invest an additional $50,000 into the Sculpture by the Sea's Access and Inclusion program. This will help make the show more accessible to people with disabilities in several ways, including: private tailored and free tours for people with disabilities and their carers, audio descriptors for people unable to read the signage, and tactile tours for vision impaired visitors.

This story Artist who picks up marine debris picks up mayoral prize first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.