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Expo spotlights plastic pollution

January 03, 2016


Thought-provoking:  The centrepiece, A Nightmare at Sea, illustrates how much plastic is released into the sea every 15 seconds.

Beach combing

Beach combing:  The Science Museum invited students to join beach clean-ups and turn the plastic waste into art for the expo.

Impactful message

Impactful message:  North Point Concordia Lutheran School students created upcycled artwork highlighting the dangers of ocean pollution to marine life and humans.

Seaside snapshot

Seaside snapshot:  Forty students led by a local artist collected plastic waste and turned it into art on Lantau Island's Lo Kei Wan beach.

Mass-produced plastic products may have helped make life easier, but today there is not a single square kilometre of seawater in the world that is free of plastic.


Different kinds of plastic can degrade at different rates, but the average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years, while fishing nets take 650 years.


The "Out to Sea? The Plastic Garbage Project" exhibition at the Hong Kong Science Museum combines art and science by showcasing works of art using plastic rubbish collected from the world's seas to illustrate how such waste is threatening the marine ecosystem.


The exhibits cast a critical eye on the amount of plastic waste making its way into the world oceans every day and the consequences of the pollution for nature and mankind.


Museum für Gestaltung Zurich loaned some of the exhibits to the Science Museum which are on display with local students' artworks made out of plastic waste sourced from schools and during field trips.


Eye-opening experience

When visitors enter the museum's exhibition hall they are greeted by a two-metre-high pile of rubbish. It is the expo's centrepiece, A Nightmare at Sea, on loan from Museum für Gestaltung Zurich.


It is made of plastic flotsam collected during beach clean-ups in the North Sea, Hawaii, the Baltic Sea and elsewhere and includes innocuous objects such as tyres, buckets and toothbrushes.


Science Museum Assistant Curator Wister Tsui said the central installation is thought-provoking and will capture visitors' attention.


"A survey found that every 15 seconds the equivalent amount of garbage in A Nightmare at Sea is released into the oceans. This artwork also shows that plastic releases harmful substances that are transferred to humans through the food chain. It is humans that suffer in the end and we hope this piece can raise awareness of the plastic pollution problem and encourage people to reduce their use of plastic products."


Mr Tsui added that the expo includes photos showing the devastating effect on marine life and birds when they eat the plastic waste.


Artistic transformation

The Science Museum invited students from Project WeCan to join beach clean-ups and commissioned more than 10 artworks from them to display in the exhibition.


North Point Concordia Lutheran School students created Fishing, an artwork consisting of plastic bottles, banners and railings. Secondary Four student Winnie Ho explained the message behind their art.


"When we throw rubbish into the sea fish eat it. We then eat the fish and end up eating the trash we threw away. Through this activity I learnt that ocean pollution is serious as it not only affects marine life but human health too."


Science snapshots

There are also interactive exhibits and audio-visual programmes to introduce the science behind plastic products and the threats presented to the Earth.


Forty students led by a local artist collected plastic waste on Lantau Island’s Lo Kei Wan beach and turned it into stunning art along the shore. The event was filmed and forms part of the exhibition.


Hong Kong Sea School Secondary Five student Sunny Po said taking part in the art project helped him learn about the threat to the marine ecosystem.


"I realised that we are so wasteful. Useless items which are not trash are just thrown into the sea, but they get washed back onto the beach, polluting the ecosystem."


"Out to Sea?" is not all about an ecological catastrophe. It also focuses as much on the solution as it does the problem and looks at eco-friendly approaches such as reducing, reusing and recycling to encourage consumers to take action.


Jointly presented by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department and the Swiss Consulate General, the expo was organised by the Hong Kong Science Museum, Museum für Gestaltung Zurich and Connecting Spaces Hong Kong - Zurich of the Zurich University of the Arts.


It will run until February 17.


To tie-in with the Appreciate Hong Kong Campaign, museums managed by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department are offering free admission in January.

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