Humans are the worst enemy

2016-05-13 16:29
In front of one of the sculptures are from left, Dirk Durnez (Cape Town Art Agency), Karl Stouthuyzen, Sarah Struys (Kirstenbosch) and William Vaesen (Cape Town Art Agency.

In front of one of the sculptures are from left, Dirk Durnez (Cape Town Art Agency), Karl Stouthuyzen, Sarah Struys (Kirstenbosch) and William Vaesen (Cape Town Art Agency. (Desiree Rorke)

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Plastic is inevitable. It’s not the enemy, we are.

World renowned Belgian artist William Sweetlove reckons a world without plastic is no longer possible.
“The problem isn’t the plastic itself, but the fact that people burn it and throw it into the sea,” he says.
He brings this conservation message home in a whimsical yet compelling exhibition of neo-pop sculptures, which opened at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden on Wednesday.
Labelled “Water Wars” the exhibition tells the story of mankind’s war with water.
By 2025, one in three people will live with absolute water scarcity, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

“Yet, the excesses of humanity are threatening our natural resources.” he says.
Sweetlove’s sculptures are made from recycled plastic from landfills and transform ordinary animals and objects into iconic figures.
His unique artworks have challenged people to become environmental thinkers for close to 50 years, through more than 600 exhibitions worldwide.

It is not hard to see why.
The pieces are bold and playful but definitely makes you think.
More than 60 red, black and white penguins positioned or rather installed in the Vlei Garden, for example, draws attention to the impending shortage of clean drinking water.
“They have water bottles fastened to their backs suggesting a survival measure and face the mountain in an almost pleading fashion; pleading for fresh water.”

At the Old Dam, the Fisherman-hunter sculpture speaks to our dwindling ocean resources.
“In order for the Fisherman to survive, he eats less and therefor has shrunk. As there are no fish left in the ocean, he has now become a hunter.”
In addition to his solo work sculptures, Sweetlove has worked collaboratively with other artists for more than 20 years as a member of the Cracking Art Group, founded in 1983 in Northern Italy. Their collective work calls attention to environmental and social issues.

One such poignant installation shows the plight of the turtles in Venice as they try to escape the canals that keep them from the ocean.

Dirk Durnez, the founder of the Cape Town Art Agency who collaborated with Sweetlove and Sanbi (South African National Biodiversity Institute) on the exhibition, says the exhibition aims to create a change of mind-set about conservation, especially in young people.
The exhibition will continue at Kirstenbosch until Saturday 11 June, where after it will journey through South Africa ending in Pretoria.

Karl Stouthuysen, Belgian Consul to Cape Town opened the exhibition.
He said initiatives like these stress the need for ecological awareness.
“Water is most precious for all creatures great and small.”

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