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John Dahlsen: An Artist’s Palette Picked From Ocean Debris

Orange Rope by John Dahlsen
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Orange Rope by John Dahlsen. Contemporary environmental art wall work, made from found plastic objects, assembled behind perspex. Abstract recycled art created from plastics collected from Australian beaches.

John Dahlsen‘s environmental art came to my attention via Pinterest.  Originally he was a landscape painter in Australia, and as he began collecting driftwood on the coastline to make furniture, he discovered a staggering amount of debris, much of it plastic, washed up on the shore.  He collected 80 jumbo trash bags, and as he sorted the items by color, a painter’s palette emerged.  Dahlsen found intriguing hues and forms shaped by the wind and sun and water, and began making assemblages, totems and installations.  He sees it as alchemy:

My work is in a constant state of evolution. I see this largely as alchemical. It is the process of nature’s elements redefining the man-made that created the initial alchemy in working with these found objects, taking the objects beyond the mundane. The second step was achieved through the transportation of these plastics to my studio and the process of sorting and assembling. A further and more vital transformation took place as I assembled them. These found objects then started to tell their story and become transformed into artworks.

Dahlsen describes the contradictory feelings of being outraged by the magnitude of trash being dumped into the ocean, and at the same time going back repeatedly to collect more items for his palette, and eloquently says that as he sorted piles of objects in his studio they took on an “unspeakable, indefinable and quite a magical beauty.”  This is “found” art and yet finding the debris was only the first step toward finding the qualities and stories of these discards, and in making his art, Dahlsen also found a way to express his own passionate concern about the environment, and his creativity in recycling.

More Orange on my Orange Tuesdays Pinterest Board.


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