Marine Debris Mandala at the Small Things Festival, Warrnambool

On the 20th October, the “Small Things Festival” was held on the Civic Green, outside the Warrnambool Art Gallery. It coincided with the launch and opening of the Paul Jennings exhibition, “Unreal”, so there were lots of children and families about.

Encouraged by the enthusiastic Colleen Hughson, Denise Regan and I brought our collections of marine plastics to create a mandala from debris washed up at local beaches. With the assistance of many of the children who attended, we formed a colourful pattern about 4m across over four hours or so.

During that time we talked to families about the issue – sources, alternatives and solutions to the huge problem of  ocean pollution. The kids had the most creative ideas, suggesting alternatives to balloons as decorations, such as coloured flags, paper chains and lanterns, piñatas, bubbles and paper confetti.

We were able to collect signatures of over 80 people pledging not to use plastic cotton buds. We hope to present this to manufacturers and local suppliers, so alternatives can be made available in Warrnambool.

It was a great experience, with stalls promoting environmentally friendly products and workshops demonstrating sustainable practices.