A giant leafy sea dragon made from marine debris by local artists in remote South Australia will feature at a national Indigenous art fair this month. 

Key points:

  • Ku Arts and Arts Ceduna are making a leafy sea dragon out of waste found on beaches
  • The project will be displayed at the upcoming Tarnanthi Art Fair in Adelaide
  • People will be able to make their own art projects out of spare marine debris at the fair

Ku Arts, a South Australian support organisation for the Aboriginal Art Centre, selected a group of people at Arts Ceduna on the west coast to bring the creature to life using waste rope and net found beaches.

It will be displayed at the Adelaide Festival Centre as part of Tarnanthi Art Fair later this month.

The debris has been collected by groups at beaches including Yalata and Port Lincoln.

Cecile Williams, a marine debris art expert who was called in to help create the project, said the sea dragon was so large she wondered how it would be transported within a van.

“The leafy sea dragon is about five metres long, it’s getting bigger by the minute. He’s about three metres high without his leaf on,” she said.

Beaver Lennon adding to the leafy sea dragon structure at Arts Ceduna.(Supplied: Lisa Phillips, Ku Arts)

The structure made from bamboo and rattan cane is racing to be finished in its complete form.

“We haven’t done it yet, but we’re going to be covering it with net and using a lot of those ropes, unwinding them, and weaving it through to create the solid form,” Ms Williams said.

Collette Gray says marine debris is washed-up rubbish from beaches and constitutes all sorts of things.(Supplied: Lisa Phillips, Ku Arts)

What it will look like

Ms Williams said the debris used was predominantly collected from Port Lincoln.

“Once you unwind it it looks quite old, but inside it’s almost brand new,” she said.

“They’ve got all these fantastic colours like the bright yellows, oranges, blues and greens. They almost look like brand new rope but it’s actually come from very old rope.”

Some of the marine debris collected on west coast beaches included in the project.(Supplied: Mel Henderson)

Making the outside of the sea dragon’s form will prove challenging, but the artists are up for it, Ms Williams said.

“It’s quite a challenge because it’s got a lot of leaves, and it sort-of floats in the sea, so we had to think about how it was going to stand because it doesn’t really have legs,” she said.

“It’s sort of got these light little leaves.”

With the leafy sea dragon on display, people are invited to create their own marine debris sculptures at the fair out of spare, supplied materials.

The structure of the leafy sea dragon is made from bamboo and rattan wood.(Supplied: Lisa Phillips, Ku Arts)

“Marine debris is washed-up rubbish from beaches, so [it constitutes] all sorts of things,” said Collette Gray, a senior artist involved in the project at Arts Ceduna.

“A lot of the fishing nets and things have been thrown off ships, or when the ships have capsized and things get washed up.”

The Tarnanthi Art fair has been running in South Australia for eight years and is the state’s festival of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

It features the work of 1,500 artists in exhibitions and events at the Art Gallery of South Australia and venues across the state, including Port Pirie.