These local artists are using marine plastic as their inspiration.
The Cayman Islands has a dirty little secret: We have a bit of a litter problem. When you visit the not so popular beaches you will find it. Plastic cutlery, plastic bags, plastic bottles and containers. Plastic everywhere. However, local artists are finding the treasure in another man’s trash and exposing Cayman’s dirty secret one statement piece at a time.
One such local artist is Kaitlyn Elphinstone. She works with digital media and assemblage, creating 3-D collages out of everyday things. One of Elphinstone’s creations, titled Discarded and Collected sees the use of blue and green plastics found on the beach and arranged on a nearby rock formation to create a cascading plastic waterfall. Discarded and Collected can be viewed on Elphinstone’s website in the Fingerprint collection at kaitlynelphinstone.com.
When asked to explain the intention behind her work, Ephinstone says, “Art plays an important role by offering a platform for discussion. Our relationship with the environment is incredibly complex and can be difficult to articulate. My work investigates this intricate human relationship with our surrounding landscape.”
Another one of Elphinstone’s pieces, titled Woven Sea Fan, can be viewed at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. For this piece, Elphinstone wove stripes of plastic shopping bags into a sea fan, creating a strong visual representation of the interconnectedness of human actions and the impact they can have on the environment. Just down the hall from Woven Sea Fan is another statement piece, called Fish Skeleton created by Rasitha Sanjeewa. Assembled from self-described pieces of “junk,” the fish skeleton also offers a commentary on how human actions and things can harm the planet and its animals.
Travel down to South Sound, and you may see a rather odd looking tree; the Island’s famous Shoe Tree. Wolfgang Brocklebank and his girlfriend at the time, Giovanna Inselmini, were so disgusted by the amount of shoes they found on the secluded beaches on Grand Cayman that they decided to create a statement piece for visitors and locals alike. Brocklebank and Inselmini collected discarded shoes from the beaches and nailed them to a tree on the side of a popular road to show us all how much waste there is. The aptly named Shoe Tree is now a tourist attraction that visitors photograph and even nail their own shoes to in homage.
No two shoes on the tree match. They are all single cast-aways forever missing their pair. However, one common theme between the shoes is that they are all made of plastic.
Marine plastic is a major problem for all coastal communities around the world because plastic does not biodegrade. Once in the ocean, it stays there forever. Therefore everyone must be diligent at preventing trash — and especially plastics — from going into the environment. It is easy to turn a blind eye on an unpleasant problem, but these local artists are using their art to encourage us all to do our part to help the environment.
Author: Stacie Sybersma
Photographer: Kaitlyn Elphinstone, Woven Sea Fan, courtesy of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands