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Artist celebrates Clean Up Australia Day

By Louise Errington

CDU Visual Arts Lecturer and postgraduate student John Dahlsen displayed his sculpture, “White Foam Totems”, in Sydney to celebrate Clean Up Australia Day 2014 CDU Visual Arts Lecturer and postgraduate student John Dahlsen displayed his sculpture, “White Foam Totems”, in Sydney to celebrate Clean Up Australia Day 2014


In celebration of Clean Up Australia Day 2014 (2 March), a Darwin environmental artist exhibited a work of art in Sydney constructed from beach litter.

The artwork, commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for display at its six-star rated eco-friendly Sydney head office, was featured in a recent exhibition.

Charles Darwin University Visual Arts Lecturer and postgraduate student John Dahlsen said aside from creating artistic value, using recycled materials in his art added an element of social responsibility.

“Through environmental art I strive to improve our relationship with nature,” Mr Dahlsen said.

“Whether it examines our natural environment or adds cultural value to a landscape, environmental art is used to encourage people to appreciate everything and anything natural.”

Comprising 12 sculptures made from recycled Styrofoam, the materials for the piece, entitled “White Foam Totems”, were collected by Mr Dahlsen and Commonwealth Bank staff volunteers during the 2011 Clean Up Australia Day rubbish collection in Sydney.

This year marks 25 years since Ian Kiernan created Clean Up Sydney Harbour Day, which a year later, in 1990, evolved into Clean Up Australia Day.

The exhibition recognised the 25th anniversary of the Sydney event and kicked off celebrations in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary for Clean Up Australia Day in 2015.

Having had his work shown in more than 200 exhibitions, Mr Dahlsen has amassed a great deal of experience during his 30-year career. He won the Wynne prize at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2000 and his art represented Australia at the Athens Olympic Games.

Mr Dahlsen’s main medium is found beach litter, which allows him to focus on environmental issues.