Australian artist David Day has embarked on a unique and impactful mission to raise awareness about marine conservation through his extraordinary sculptures crafted from ocean debris. His inspiring process, which begins with him painstakingly collecting trash at the beach before he transforms it into innovative art, contributes to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Life Below Water as well as Responsible Consumption and Production.

Artist David Day with his piece, SodaStream Turtle. Image courtesy of Lump Studio.

At Lump Studio in Melbourne, Day ingeniously created a captivating sculpture of a sea turtle using discarded plastic bottles, thongs, flippers, and other debris found on Australian beaches. This turtle is perched on top of a pod housing the VR experience Ocean Of The Future, a campaign against single-use plastic and waste by the sparkling water at-home company, SodaStream. Positioned at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney, the installation allowed visitors to experience the harsh truth behind how single use plastic affects marine life for free. The turtle, accompanied by the VR experience, is scheduled to travel to other places in the world, continue its journey in educating the wider public about the issue.

Queensland, Look at the State We’re In by David Day. Image courtesy of the Canberra Times.

At another instance, Day's commitment also extended beyond his sculptures as he directly addressed waste issues in Queensland, otherwise known as the litter capital of Australia. Here, he created a fish sculpture titled, Queensland, Look at the State We’re In, out of 4000 water bottles, a renowned pollutant of the Queensland waterways. 

The artwork took the shape of a fish highlighting the potential struggles faced by fish in Queensland waterways due to the significant amount of waste present. The piece was formed as a fish as a direct message to the viewers, to remind them that should there really be fish swimming in the Queensland waterways, they would be struggling due to the amount of waste in it.

The sculpture was erected at King George Square in Brisbane, Queensland, where Day also promoted his collaboration with Containers for Change, a Queensland-basedQueensland based non-profit organization that offers a 10¢ refund for each plastic container people give to them to recycle.

However, Day wasn’t always making art from marine debris. He first began his career as an artist making wooden sculptures, until a visit to Shoal Point Beach, Queensland with his son revealed to him an alarming amount of litter. During that visit, Day managed to collect 22 cigarette lighters in just half an hour. 

Students at the Bucasia State School with art from recycled materials. Image courtesy of ABC Local.

Day's art has not only influenced teachers at his son's school, Bucasia State School, but it has also led them to integrate recycled artwork into their classes. The students, now known as eco-warriors, enthusiastically gather litter, develop sustainable habits, and craft remarkable art sculptures using recyclable materials. 

Day's initiative to raise awareness about marine debris and pollution is not just contributing to a cleaner environment for the upcoming generations but is also motivating the current generation to actively engage and make a difference.

Day’s art has also inspired teachers at his son’s school, the Bucasia State School to incorporate recycled artwork into their classes. The students, now dubbed eco-warriors, actively collect litter, devise sustainable practices, and create impressive art sculptures using recyclable materials. This shows how Day's efforts to create an awareness of marine debris and pollution is not only ensuring a cleaner environment for future generations, but is also inspiring today’s generations to take action.

David Day’s turtle sculpture at the Bucasia State School. Image courtesy of ABC Local.

Day's artistic journey stands as a testament to the profound impact individuals can have on promoting marine conservation. Through his art, Day not only raises awareness about the plight of marine life but actively contributes to the preservation and conservation of marine life. His sculptures are not just aesthetically pleasing; they are a call to action, urging society to rethink its relationship with plastic and waste. As Day's sculptures continue to inspire, they become beacons of hope for a future where oceans can thrive, free from the shackles of debris and pollution.

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