Clean Living: Making an art of Perth beach rubbish

Virginia Casey converts beach waste into art pieces. Picture: Martin Kennealey.
Virginia Casey converts beach waste into art pieces. Picture: Martin Kennealey.

In the third of a series about living a cleaner lifestyle, communitynews.com.au meets the woman who makes colourful art from the rubbish she collects along Perth beaches.

VIRGINIA Casey has found her own way to turn trash into treasure, educate children on recycling and help save the oceans too.

The real estate agent and mother of two spends her spare time crafting pieces of art from plastic pieces, rope and driftwood she finds washed up along Perth’s coast.

“I didn’t think we had enough plastic or debris on our beaches, but then I realised it was during winter that the rubbish would be washed up and if it wasn’t picked up it would be sent back out to the ocean and potentially kill marine life and birds,” she said.

“I started collecting the rubbish, colour co-ordinating it and trying to find suitable pieces for my art.”

Virginia’s colourful collection of beach waste, soon to be art materials.

MORE: 5 tips from Environment Minister Stephen Dawson for reducing single use plastic

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Ms Casey said what she found was a lot of micro plastic – bits of plastic that had broken down into small pieces and were at risk of being eaten by fish and birds.

She was also surprised by the amount of toothbrushes, toys and pegs that washed up, as well as rope and fishing gear.

“These are all items that can kill and severely injure our marine and bird life,” she said.

“There are so many documentaries I’ve seen where fish are feeding their babies these small pieces of plastic. It’s horrible.”

Ms Casey’s artwork can sometimes take months to create, with the perfect pieces of plastic and debris needed.

“I will collect the rubbish for months and then spent that time fitting pieces together like a puzzle,” she said.

But she insists her hobby is not a moneymaking venture.

“I put so much time and energy into it and then money framing them, but I have no interest in making money from it,” she said.

“I take the artwork to schools and talk about sustainability, and how important it is to reduce, reuse and recycle.

“It creates a lot of joy for the kids seeing the artwork and it’s a positive solution to a bad problem and creates a discussion.”

Discarded rope and string found at the beach is given a new life as art supplies.

Ms Casey thinks if interior designers would back her type of art it could motivate more people to make creative pieces from rubbish along the coast.

“I would love to go to other countries with bad rubbish problems and help them make art and try to reduce this problem globally, while creating something beautiful,” she said.