Plastic from single-use water bottles is a big issue globally and in Siem Reap where more than 2 million visitors pass through each year, the result is visible and damaging. For local communities in Siem Reap, dealing with around 4.6 million plastic bottles every month is causing major repercussions.
Artist John Melvin has spent his artistic career making art pieces to illustrate the damage humans are doing to the planet. In his exhibition, Curbing Entropy, which will open in April at 1961 Gallery, he aims to open more eyes to this global disaster.
John is spending a 2-month residency at the 1961 Gallery to produce this work, a piece in a larger series of art works he produces all around the world.
The installation in this exhibition is an abstract jellyfish sculpture suspended in the gallery.
During his residency at the 1961 gallery, John has spent time to engage with the community, to understand their concerns and test his ideas. He chose a jellyfish to focus on the danger of plastic pollution on our oceans.
The sculpture consists of the same number of plastic bottles used in Siem Reap on an average day.
The bottles themselves have been donated by ReHash Trash, the Siem Reap Food Co-op, Husk and various individual contributors.
The topic of plastic pollution, more specifically plastic bottle consumption, is key to the installation. “Consumption”, says the artist, “has such a huge impact on our culture and environment, if we can curb our use of just one type of plastic, we can make significant improvements to our own lives, and that of others. Once we can start using refillable containers instead of single-use bottles, we can then start to think about other ways to eliminate plastic from our lives.”
At the beginning of this year, he contacted local organisation Plastic Free Cambodia, he began to form his plan, with their support. Once 1961 Art Gallery came on board he began raising funds to support the project.
John’s exhibition will be on display at 1961 Gallery from 9 April. Until the exhibit opens, it is under construction in the gallery, so it’s possible to see the work in its final stages.
He hopes to bring more awareness to the issue and encourages people to make changes to how they live and travel. Through the missions of projects like Plastic Free Cambodia and Refill NOT Landfill, there are people in the Siem Reap community and beyond that will give continuity to John’s work.
More information available at www.johnkmelvin.com.