Odisha based visual artist Manveer Singh has installed a 15-feet Olive Ridley sea turtle artwork made out of plastic at Puri beach with an aim to make people aware of the ill-effects of plastic waste on the environment, especially the sea and the aquatic life.
Manveer is also known as 'Plasticwalla'. He says that his art is inspired by nature and for the nature. He is the winner of the "METIS Initiative on Plastics and Indo-Pacific Ocean 2021", a collaboration between Utsha Foundation and AFD and is making this artwork as a part of this initiative.
Manveer's entry was selected from 26 applicants from all across India. His project "From Plastic to Art" was chosen in September.
For the purpose of creating this artwork, Manveer collected plastics through his 40 odd 'habit changer' boxes placed at several locations across Bhubaneswar city. He also interacts with the public to spread awareness on plastic pollution and has conducted workshops in various schools and colleges across the city.
While talking to ANI, Manveer explained why he chose Olive Ridley as a subject for his artwork.
"I choose Olive Ridley because mass nesting of these is very common in Odisha. All species on this planet are affected by plastic, including Olive Ridley. They often eat plastic after mistaking it for Jellyfish. Mass nesting is really huge, but unfortunately, very few of these turtles survive. I want to bring their crisis before the people because they play a big role in maintaining the life cycle on this planet. Everyday-use plastic has been used for this artwork.," he said.
Manveer said that 250 turtles combine to create this artwork of 15 feet.
Manveer has so far helped in upcycling/reusing more than 350 kg of plastics in India. He has used techniques of weaving coloured plastics to create beautiful objects of different shapes and sizes to create art objects.
He chose Puri beach as a site for his artwork for a better connection with the people given how the beach is a tourist spot.
Talking about his interactions with the public and support from them, he said, "People support me. I caution people about the plastics that they do not see that they are using. I ask them to check the packaging of products they buy. I appeal to them to give dry, multi-layered plastic to me."
He aims to go further with his intentions to spread awareness on plastic waste and wants to engage his village in it. "Plastic pollution has just started there. I want to make people aware from now only so that landfills are not made."
Sumitra Padhi, his project coordinator and a member of Utsha Foundation said that Puri beach was chosen as the site to display the artwork so as to connect with people and to help change the habit of throwing plastic in the sea.
Manveer has made quite an impact through his interactions with the public on plastic waste.
M Patnaik, a local resident while talking to ANI highlighted the role Manveer played in changing his household's habits when it comes to the treatment of plastic waste.
"Manveer had visited us a month back. He had given us a box to store plastic. Earlier the plastic used to get picked up by the municipality and go through dumping yards. It is good for the environment," he said.
Manveer's workshops at schools and colleges it seems have bore fruit as well.
Sasmita, a student who made a drawing using plastic was also pretty happy with her artwork and echoed Manveer's sentiments on plastic waste while talking to ANI.
"I used a pencil to draw first. I used small plastic pieces this time to draw as well. I am really happy with my art. I never thought of plastic as a medium to create art. I made a turtle. We are humans but we often forget that others have a right to live too and we dump plastic. I urge people to upcycle plastic and make art out of it," she said.
Tourists are also impressed with Manveer's initiative.
Abhimanyu, who also happens to be one of Manveer's teachers told ANI, "I am really happy that he is doing this work. When he was my student, he used to paint but then he shifted to environmental issues which is pretty relevant nowadays. He has made his art wonderfully and I am happy to be here to see it." (ANI)