When Dutch photographer Thirza Schaap (b.1971) moved to South Africa, she discovered her findings at the seaside weren’t organic but man-made debris. She went from treasure hunter to trash hunter. For her series Plastic Ocean, in an effort to raise awareness for the problem of plastics pollution, she collected the non-natural objects and collaged them into bright and beautiful contemporary still lifes, challenging our aesthetic attraction.
The dusty junk carefully arranged against pastel backgrounds look like precious worlds unto themselves. The seemingly fragile, organic surfaces offer a sad realisation of the actuality, calling upon you consider their presence in the ocean, as well as the broader human impact on the environment. Schaap’s series gives us a colourful peek into the overwhelming amount of solid chemicals drifting around. In the artist’s own words: “Our beaches are covered in plastic confetti and there really is nothing to celebrate.”