NOT RUBBISH: A stunning example of David Day's art from marine debris.
NOT RUBBISH: A stunning example of David Day's art from marine debris. Contributed

Trash to treasure

DAVID Day has a vision that one day the world's oceans will be free from marine debris.

For 10 years the Mackay-based artist and conservationist has created artworks from materials washed up on his local Shoal Bay shores and collected from the Whitsunday waterways as a volunteer with the marine debris program run by Eco Barge Clean Seas.

Now, he is about to embark on a project that will stop some of this material from entering both ocean and landfill.

Best of all he will bring a community along for the ride as part of the Great Barrier Reef Festival, proudly supported by Cruise Whitsundays.

Mr Day has been engaged through a Regional Arts Development Fund grant to create a community art piece for public display at the festival from August 1-4.

The end result - a giant school of fish individually crafted from melted plastic milk bottles - will be a collective effort, led by Mr Day but open to anyone wanting to take part.

These "fish” will be created at two workshops hosted by Lure in Abell Point Marina on June 22 and July 13.

Mr Day will come to the workshops armed with the necessary materials and tools, while all anyone else needs to bring is a desire to participate and a healthy dose of imagination.

"It'll be up to the individual to add things like plastic sprinkles into the designs, creating colourful reef-style species,” Mr Day explained.

"We're aiming to get as many people as possible making lots of these fish so that when they're on display at the festival you'll see a giant school of reef fish of different colours and shapes - just like you see out on the reef.

"Hopefully this new technique that you can come down and learn at Abell Point Marina will be part of our solution for the future and something unique for this area that could continue to grow.”

Festival chairwoman Margie Murphy said she hoped people would be as inspired by the project as the festival team was.

"The Great Barrier Reef is so visual, so art is the perfect medium through which to express that and David Day is the perfect partner in this project,” she said. "We're hoping everyone with an interest in art and the environment will come along and join in this community art project so we can all create something together to display on the foreshore at the Great Barrier Reef Festival.”

The fund's chair and Whitsunday Regional Councillor Jan Clifford said it was exciting to have an artist of Mr Day's calibre working on this installation in conjunction with the Great Barrier Reef Festival.

"We're already a very tight community so this is another way of us coming together and creating something beautiful,” she said.

Abell Point Marina marketing and business development manager Joscelyn O'Keefe said the marina team was proud to be hosting the workshops at their waterfront venue Lure.

"This is the beginning of a new and exciting partnership between us and the Great Barrier Reef Festival this year; we are passionate about helping to reduce marine debris and hosting these workshops at the marina ties in perfectly with our own environmental business focus,” she said.

Mr Day will also be on hand during the festival weekend to help participants create messages in bottles, as well as marine-themed pendants crafted from recycled plastic.

These on-site activities will require a gold coin donation, but attendance at the workshops, which are being held from 10am-3pm both days, is free.

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Tash Wheeler, said she was thrilled to see such an engaging and innovative arts element incorporated into this year's Great Barrier Reef Festival program.

To register for the workshops visit the festival's Facebook page.

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