Porky Hefer’s Recycled Sea Monsters Designs caught I Lobo You’s attention. As if the plastic waste from our hyper-consumerist culture wasn’t frightening enough, South African designer Porky Hefer has imagined five giant sea monsters made entirely of recycled material for a large-scale installation commissioned by Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria for the NGV Triennial and co-produced by Cape Town’s Southern Guild gallery.
Plastocene – Marine Mutants from a Disposable World’ by Porky Hefer
While his previous designs – whimsical hanging seats and an award-winning private house in Namibia – were often based on birds’ nests, Hefer’s mutant species explore the idea of a post-human world where plastic is so dominant, it has become an integral part of some animals’ DNA. In his dystopian vision, influenced by National Geographic magazine’s ‘Planet or Plastic?’ issue, species have begun to transmutate, adapting to the endless abundance of plastics and pollutants flooding into nature, in a new stage of the evolutionary process.
Charming, at first sight, Porky Hefer’s creatures are less so on closer inspection: a giant octopus (at 14m wide and 3.6m tall, Hefer’s largest piece to date) is made from thousands of felt cigarette butts; a cute multicolored fish turns out to be built out of ghost nets and marine rope, and a blowfish’s spikes are revealed as 120 crocheted straws. Equally striking are Flat White, a reminder of the waste generated by takeaway food packaging, and Q-Tip, a part-earbud, part-hammerhead shark creature.
All the artworks were made in collaboration with a community of South African artisans, including over 80 crafters across six studios: Ronel Jordaan Textiles, Streetwires, Mielie, Wolf & Maiden Creative Studio, M Clothing, and Leon at CXIXX, with African Karakul wool sponsored by Jonay Wool Carding. The entire project was co-produced by Southern Guild and will now form part of NGV’s permanent collection.
It’s a resounding success in terms of impactful art, but let’s hope this vision of a toxic future never becomes a reality.