'Coral Garden' is a handcrafted installation that's inspired by the world's threatened coral reefs, and made with upcycled materials.
It's no secret that the world's coral reefs are facing a growing number of threats due to the warming and acidification of the oceans, as well as plastic pollution and human waste. In looking to highlight the impact of pollution from the textile industry on corals, Portuguese artist Vanessa Barragão (previously) created Coral Garden, a handmade collection of coral-inspired, carpet artworks made out of discarded pieces of rugs from a carpet factory in Portugal.
In creating this tactile and touchable work, Barragão uses traditional techniques such as latch hooking, hand-tufting, embroidering, felting and crocheting, in addition to emphasizing the need for waste reduction and upcycling in the textile industry. She explains:
The textile mass industry industry is one of the most polluting in the world. All the machinery used requires tons of energy while producing a lot of waste and disposable trash. It is extremely harmful for our planet and it affects all of its different natural environments, particularly the ocean which absorbs 90% of the atmosphere pollution. Global warming is erasing one of the most vital environments, the coral reefs. These living and complex natural organisms are the heart of an immense habitat of marine species which depend on one another to survive. Without this pillar, a major part of sealife can become close to extinction which will ultimately affect us and many other living species.
Most of us have never seen a coral reef up close. But here, Barragão attempts to bring the stark reality of how humans are killing the corals front and centre.
For instance, in the main part of the installation, we are presented with a rendition of healthy, colourful corals on the left, and a bleached, sick and dead version of corals on the right, alluding to the massive coral die-offs that are happening globally, from the Great Barrier Reef, to the Caribbean and the Philippines.
Much like the science behind all of these significant environmental issues, there's also an artistic way of looking at the way things are, and possible solutions. In this case of the negative impacts that the textile industry is having on our oceans, Barragão not only points to the problem, she appropriately suggests a potential path out of it as well. To see more, visit Vanessa Barragão and Instagram.