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Art

Tons of Discarded Fishing Nets Are Formed into the Wildlife They Entangle in Sculptures by Ghost Net Collective

October 13, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images © Ghost Net Collective, shared with permission courtesy of JGM Gallery

A fishing net that has been lost or abandoned is known as a ghost net, one of the more formidable elements of “ghost gear,” which includes an array of traps, lines, pots, and other equipment discarded or no longer in use by the fishing industry. Due to their vast size, nets pose an ongoing threat to marine wildlife that get tangled in the synthetic mesh and to coral reefs that are smothered by them. Ghost Net Collective, an Australian cross-cultural group of artists who began working together at Erub Arts in 1996, seeks to educate viewers about what co-founder Lynnette Griffiths calls the “silent predator” of the ocean. Incoming Tide, a new exhibition of work by ten artists at JGM Gallery, dives into the story behind this enormous threat to marine wildlife.

Ghost Net Collective first began to work together in Erub, an island off the tip of Queensland in the Torres Strait. Home to around 400 Indigenous Erubam le, or Erubian people, from four different tribes, the island has a longstanding tradition of seafaring and fishing that has shaped its inhabitants’ lives for centuries. While derelict fishing gear bypasses Erub most of the time, in places where the tidal stream washes up, the situation for wildlife and the safety of shorelines can become much more precarious. “The western edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria gets huge amounts of net which drift down from Indonesia,” Griffiths explained in an interview with JGM Gallery.

Lynnette Griffiths, “Ornate Eagle Ray” (2022), ghost net and beach rope with a wire frame, 76 x 81 x 11 centimeters

The artists regularly partner with plastic retrieval nonprofits or the Australian Navy to source nets from beach-clean operations, and the group’s mission is to illustrate the perilous and damaging effects of plastic waste in oceans. Artists stitch vivid meshes and threads around metal frames into the forms of marine creatures endemic to the Australia coastline like stingrays or sharks.

In Incoming Tide, animals sail together through the space as if riding the same current, buoyant in bright hues and vibrant patterns as they convey an urgent message. “Some countries are still using gillnets,” Griffiths explains. “Those are nets set with radio beacons and they’re baited. They can be kilometres and kilometres long. When they become rogue nets, they just start fishing themselves.” By shaping marine animals from the salvaged materials in motifs resembling coral reefs or schools of fish, the artists hope to shed light on the immense impact of ocean plastics on marine ecosystems and the climate crisis.

Incoming Tide is on view in London through November 4, and you can find more information about Ghost Net Collective on Facebook.

Jimmy Kenny Thaiday, “Jimmy” (2022), ghost net, rope, and twine over a wire frame, 143 x 50 x 54 centimeters

Installation view courtesy of JGM Gallery

Left: Jimmy John Thaiday, “Boycar” (2022), ghost net, rope, and twine over a wire frame, 114 x 77 x 12 centimeters. Right: Marion Gaemers, “Ornate Eagle Ray” (2022), ghost net, beach rope, and wire frame, 77 x 87 x 13 centimeters

Lavinia Ketchell, “Raych” (2022), ghost net, rope, and twine over a wire frame, 80 x 60 x 30 centimeters

Lynnette Griffiths, “Chomp” (2020), aluminum welded frame with ghost net and beach rope, 28 x 70 x 210 centimeters

Ghost Net Collective, “Curtain Fragment” (2021/2022), ghost net and beach rope, 155 x 110 centimeters

 

 

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Photography

A Stunning Image of a Surfer Trapped Under One of the World’s Heaviest Waves Wins the Ocean Photographer of the Year

October 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

Image © Ben Thouard. All images courtesy of Oceanographic, shared with permission

The 2022 Ocean Photographer of the Year contest highlights the vast array of colors and textures within marine environments. More than 5,000 entrants from around the world submitted to this year’s competition, with winning images framing the iridescent, billowing membranes of creatures spotted during blackwater dives, the speckled tentacles of baby squid, and a school of baitfish swirling into a choreographed pattern. The top prize was awarded to photographer Ben Thouard for his disorienting image of a surfer trapped under one of Tahiti’s infamous Teahupo’o waves, which are among the heaviest swells in existence.

Selected photos are on view through November 7 next to Tower Bridge in London, and you can see the entire 2022 collection on the contest’s site.

 

Image © Katherine Lu

Image © Brook Peterson

Image © Matty Smith

Image © Brooke Pyke

Image © Ishino Shota

Image © Gergo Rugli

Image © Martin Broen

 

 



Art

Anatomical Paintings by Lily Mixe Connect Flora and Fauna Through Textured Motifs

October 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Curious Collection” (2022), acrylic paint on wooden box assemblage, 33 x 31.5 centimeters. All images © Lily Mixe, courtesy of Saatchi Gallery, shared with permission

In The Butterfly Effect, French artist Lily Mixe illustrates the textured patterns of beetles, shells, cells, and birds through stark black and white. Working in acrylic on found wooden boxes and furniture panels, Mixe accentuates the lush motifs of scales, branches, or feathers in renderings devoid of color. Each work juxtaposes the artist’s elegant graphic style against the worn backdrops, which reflect a past of human intervention through splattered paint, scratches, and printed text. Whether presented as symmetric tableaus as in “Dragon Flying Birds” or an anatomical assemblage of flora and fauna in “Curious Collection,” the specimens detail the similarities and interconnected nature of all earthly life.

The Butterfly Effect, which will feature an on-site mural, opens on November 3 at Saatchi Gallery in London. Until then, find more of Mixe’s works on Instagram and her site.

 

“Bird of Pray” (2022), acrylic paint on a wooden box, 40 x 27.5 centimeters

“Fauna and Flora” (2022), collage on a wooden box, 42.5 x 28.5 centimeters

“Cuckoo Bee On A Platter” (2022), acrylic paint on a wooden box, 35 x 25 centimeters

“Dragon Flying Birds” (2022), acrylic paint on a wooden box, 106 x 30 centimeters

“No Feather Left Behind” (2022), acrylic paint on a wooden box, 57 x 27.5 centimeters

 

 



Art

Bordalo II Combines Salvaged Neon Tubes, Industrial Materials, and Other Waste into Lively Trash Animals in a New Retrospective

October 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Bordalo II, shared with permission

A seven-meter-tall squirrel made of railway dividers, decommissioned industrial hoses, and shopping carts in disrepair opens a massive retrospective from Portuguese artist Bordalo II (previously). Spanning ten years of his career, EVILUTION reflects the environmental themes the artist has been drawn to for at least the last decade that are reflected through his signature Trash Animals, creatures comprised of entirely salvaged materials. Spray-paint cans are slotted into an abstract mosaic of a raccoon, while neon tubing illuminates a range of sculptural creatures including a fox, spider, and even a snail strapped to an electric scooter.

EVILUTION, which opens this weekend at the Edu Hub of Lisbon, exposes the incredible array of material humans discard and how such waste affects the environment and biodiversity. The show also marks Bordalo II’s first foray into neon, which he describes in a statement:

It’s unbelievable what people throw away. Many of our sculptures use obvious household trash, but we want to show that there’s a whole ecosystem of junk laying around out there that is threatening nature. That includes things like generations of broken neon tubes, which most people wouldn’t ever think about…EVILUTION is a kind of retrospective of everything I’ve been doing over the last ten years and also a way of looking towards the future.

Head to the artist’s Instagram for a preview of the exhibition, which runs from October 8 to December 11.

 

 

 



Photography

Expressive Snake Portraits by Ben Simon Rehn Capture Serpentine Elegance in Brilliant Hues

October 4, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images © Ben Simon Rehn, shared with permission

More than 3,000 species of snakes can be found on our planet, slithering through vastly different ecosystems and exhibiting an extraordinary range of colors, patterns, and sizes. Regarded in myth as guardians of the underworld, cunning spirits, or wielders of magic, they have long been dreaded, revered, and eyed with suspicion by cultures around the globe. German photographer Ben Simon Rehn, who is interested in drawing connections between humans and nature, kindles empathy in a series of expressive serpent portraits.

While Rehn has previously trekked to destinations around the world to capture landscapes and wildlife, these images were taken at a snake refuge close to his home in the Harz Mountains. Capturing the often misunderstood creatures in a range of vivid hues, supple textures, and intense gazes proved a bit of a challenge, as even in captivity, the creatures could be elusive. “It wasn’t very easy to capture the snakes as some of them are really small—it doesn’t seem like it in the pictures—and moved fast,” he tells Colossal. “Also a few are venomous so you have to keep a distance, and a long lens helps here.” Portraying them close-up not only highlights the vivid details of their scales, mouths, and eyes, it also brings us face-to-face with the creatures to engender a different understanding.

You can explore more work by Rehn on his website and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Science

Energetic Avians Peer from Vintage Book Pages in Detailed Paintings by Craig Williams

October 4, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Green Rosella” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘Atlas of Tasmania’ (1965). All images © Craig Williams, shared with permission

Peering out from the pages of vintage atlases, textbooks, and field guides, Launceston, Tasmania-based artist Craig Williams assembles a menagerie of vibrant avians inspired by Australia’s vastly diverse wildlife and ecosystems. Spurred by an interest in the natural world, his past work in a wildlife park and as an illustrator with a regional museum specializing in spiders and insects amplified his interest in drawing and painting the natural world. The accuracy of scientific illustrations translated into a flourishing interest in birds, which he began to pair with diagrams, text, and sheet music to draw connections between geography, wildlife, and science.

Williams carefully chooses the pages for their connection to each specimen, such as a map of Tasmania that provides the background for a green rosella, a species endemic to the island. “There will always be a relationship between the bird and the page,” Williams tells Colossal. “[It is] sometimes direct, like the use of the field guides, but even these pay homage to the work of the artists and researchers who create these guides both presently and in the past.” In another piece, a peregrine glides in the foreground of a dictionary’s architectural illustrations, recognizing how the falcon has adapted to urban environments by using tall buildings as nesting places instead of cliffs.

In addition to historical connotations, Williams explores the physics of sound and light. Music pages reference passerines, the order of perching birds to which songbirds belong, emphasizing “the use of song by the birds for breeding, socialisation, territory control, etc., but also bringing our relationship with music and song to these recognisable birds that frequent our gardens,” he says. “Other examples include using old physics textbook pages on light, relating to the color in birds as well as light wavelengths in terms of iridescence, or sound wavelengths in terms of song.”

In collaboration with the podcast “The Science of Birds,” Williams paints a species mentioned in each episode, which are available for sale on the podcast’s shop with half of the proceeds donated to BirdLife International’s conservation efforts. You can find more of the artist’s work on his website and on Instagram.

 

“Superb Fairy-Wren Pair” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘The Popular Encyclopaedia or Conversations Lexicon’ (1851)

“Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1956)

Left: “Superb Fairy-Wren” (2021), acrylic on vintage page from ‘A Handbook of Tasmanian Birds and it’s Dependencies’ (1910). Right: “Orange Chat” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1956)

“Peregrine Falcon” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language’ (1933)

“Scarlet Robin” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘Leider Ohne Worte’ by Mendelssohn (1800)

Left: “Fairy Penguin” (2021), acrylic on vintage page from ‘A Handbook of Tasmanian Birds and it’s Dependencies’ (1910). Right: “Splendid Fairy-Wren and Banksia Flower” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1951)

“Kookaburra” (2021), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1953)