Plastic Ocean

C-PLATFORM × Thirza Schaap


Q & A 


A:Thirza Schaap


Q:What compelled you to move to South Africa and how did you decide to start this project?


A:At first I wanted to experience how my life would be living under the sun instead of the overcast weather in the Netherlands. I also wanted to live near the ocean.
The project started walking the beaches with Iso our doggie. Picking up the waste from the beach as a photographer I had the urge to document it and show the shocking truth.

At first it looked like all horrible images you know about polluted beaches and I wondered myself if I could work with the ugliness (the subject ) and the beauty of the faded colours of the plastic I found.


Q:Do you have a process or you how do you decide what to create out of your findings?


A:Yesterdays trash, trash what people leave behind on the beach goes into the bin of course. Everything that caches my eye in a way of colour or shape I take home, wash, dry in the sun and use for my works.


Q:How did people react to what you were doing with the trash? Did you find that it inspired others to help with cleaning up the beach?


A:People often compliment me picking up trash, but it is such a easy thing to do, we can all do it. I see more and more people picking up trash, on the beaches I often walk. I for example know a lady who always picks up in the flood line all the tiny piece, she has so much patience, so Wonderfull.


Q:Do you think it’s too late for us to stop using the ocean as a garbage dump? Do you see hope for a change in attitudes where you live?


A:I went trough this awareness that everything you trow away in the bin, doesn’t disappear. Only 10% of the plastic is recycled world wide. We have to stop our consumer addiction, always wanting new and more goods. If we all can rethink if you really need that good you want to buy that would make a difference. If we all stop buying our vegetables without plastic packaging, it would help. We are all together with so many people on the earth, if we all shift to this new way of thinking we can make a change. Love what you have and buy what you need.



Related Information

As a child, I would walk over beaches and through fields and forests to collect beautiful shells, shimmering stones, feathers and funnily shaped branches.Much later, after I had moved from Holland to South Africa, I found myself doing the same thing. Only to discover, that I started filling my pockets with trash instead of treasure.Colourful and beautiful in its own tragic way. ‘Plastic Ocean’ is an art project, which I started to create awareness around pollution to try and prevent (or at least reduce) the use of plastic.In making artistic sculptures out of the objects I find, I try to evoke an emotional response from my audience by creating a contradiction.


A clash between initial aesthetic attraction and after a second look : repulsion and the realisation of the tragedy trash causes.


Thirza Schaap graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague The Netherlandsin 1996. Since then she has been working as a photographer and is now exploring new art forms through her Plastic Ocean project. She has been living and working in Cape Town, South Africa since 2013. After first posting her images on Instagram she was published by I-D VICE magazine in the summer of 2017, followed by Lidewij Edelkoorts’s Trend Tablet, It’s Nice That, L’Officiel Homme Paris, Design Indaba, Kinfolk, Darling, Aperture, Ignant and many others. Her collection was included in the Finders Keepers exhibition at the Het Nieuwe Instituut, a design museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In May 2018 she will join the group show, Art Makkum, in the Netherlands. This May during design week in Salone, Italy she will be acknowledged by Instagram as one of four artist who present themselves successfully through social media. In March 2018 she gave a lecture and workshop to go along with her exhibition at Fabrica Research Center in Venice Italy. Plastic Ocean first solo exhibition opened June 2018 in Amsterdam at Chiristie’s.


Article Credit © Thirza Schaap






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