Wasteland: ocean plastic transformed into striking artwork

Wasteland: ocean plastic transformed into striking artwork

Wasteland: ocean plastic transformed into striking artwork

Presented by Art & About Sydney, we’ve been working on Wasteland in the past couple of years with Vert Design and The Operative.

Wasteland is an art installation comprised of 2,255 orange spheres made from 120 kg of ocean debris, suspended from the ceiling of Sydney Customs House, 24 metre above ground. It makes a powerful statement about how human consumption impacts the environment.


I was inspired to produce the artwork by a conservation experiment in Costa Rica, where 12,000 tonnes of orange peels were dumped on a desolate site, resulting in a vibrant forest two decades later. It is an incredible example of how items we waste can transform our environment positively.

Production of the oranges

We worked with Eco Barge, an organisation that recovers ocean plastic near the Great Barrier Reef. They’ve collected more than 180,000 kg over the last nine years and saved more than 80 turtles. Around 120kg of debris was used for the project – a mix of plastic bottle lids, plastic bottle necks, a broken chair, a broken kettle and micro-plastics which are harmful to marine life. The material was grinded down then melted with some virgin plastic before being moulded to form the artwork.


It’s a very rare opportunity to create an artwork at this scale – 24 metres tall. Such height has posed a lot of challenges installing and stabilising the artwork. On top of everything is also the unpredictable properties of marine debris under different weather conditions.

But the result is so much well worth of the effort. A lady who visited earlier told me, she loved it because wherever she looks, there is always a point of orange that is rushing to her eyes. I thank again to Dan Hollier and The Operative for their clever installation design and reused infrastructure to make this happen. And the Customs House for their generous support to this project.

Wasteland is part of the City of Sydney’s year-round Art & About program of events and temporary art projects in unusual spaces throughout the city.


Creative direction: Danling Xiao – Mundane Matters
Installation design: Daniel Hollier – The Operative
Product design: Andrew Simpson, Nila Rezaei – Vert Design
Product manufacture: Mastroplas
Videography: Jordi Marín
Rigging: Pacific Rigging
Drone photography – hero art: George Hong
Drone videography – installation: ProAIRVision
Volunteers: Anett Petrovics, George Onisiforou, Katy Hong, Karina Kallio, Megan Wong, Mel Tually, Rae Jiong

Marine debris collected by Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc.
Venue supported by Customs House, Sydney
Presented by City of Sydney Art & About
Produced by Mundane Matters

Documentary video by Jordi Marín

Posted on at 5:12 am by Danling Xiao.