Cultural and creative life

‘Wasteland’: A mesmerising art installation by Mundane Matters - in pictures

Made from 120kg of marine debris collected in the Whitsundays, see how a team of creatives is proving we can solve the problem of plastic pollution.

  • Pattern play

    Wasteland consists of 2,252 orange spheres suspended from the ceiling of Customs House.

    Walking under and around Wasteland, the floating orange dots (not unlike floating ocean buoys) morph into surprising patterns.

    It feels like you’ve wandered into a virtual reality game.

    Credit: Katherine Griffiths
  • The inspiration

    Produced by Sydney-based creative studio Mundane Matters for the City’s Art & About program, Wasteland was inspired by a conservation experiment.

    12,000 tonnes of orange peels were dumped on barren land in Costa Rica in the 1990s. 16 years later, researchers discovered the site had become a lush, vine-laden forest.

    Creative director Danling Xiao thought it was an incredible example of how ‘waste’ can be a powerful resource.

    Image: Mundane Matters creative director, Danling Xiao

    Credit: Katherine Griffiths
  • Collective sourcing

    In total, 80 volunteers from the not-for-profit organisation Eco Barge collected 2,319 kg of marine debris off the Great Barrier Reef in just 1 week for the project. (That’s 2,319kg of plastic that could have floated around, for another 400 years!)

  • Trial and error

    Not all the balls worked out first go.

    Recycling marine debris is challenging because the plastic itself is unpredictable – it’s a mix of many varieties of plastics, with different melting points, weakened by the elements.

    Issues arising from biofouling also need to be managed.

  • A breakthrough

    Through working on Wasteland, the team proved recycling marine debris at an industrial scale is a viable option for manufacturers. Vert Design is now speaking with international brands about creating materials from recycled marine debris, using the Wasteland project as a proof of concept.

    Image (from left to right): Mundane Matters creative director, Danling Xiao, Vert Design product designer Andrew Simpson, The Operative installation designer, Dan Hollier, and Vert Design product designer, Nila Rezaei.

    Credit: Katherine Griffiths
  • The installation

    Installing Wasteland took 12 people 18 hours to complete.

    Credit: Katherine Griffiths
  • Viewpoints

    A view from the library on level 2 at Customs House.

    Credit: Katherine Griffiths
  • Next

    Following the exhibition at Customs House (closing 28 October), Mundane Matters plans to reimagine Wasteland for other sites around the globe.

    Furthering the quest to inspire people to take care of the planet, Mundane Matters recently launched 365 to Zero, an online knowledge hub for sustainable living.

    Image: Mundane Matters creative director, Danling Xiao.

    Credit: Katherine Griffiths