Life size sculptures of marine turtles raise awareness of plastic pollution in our oceans

UK artist Helena Maratheftis has created life size sculptures of endangered turtles, to be exhibited this Friday 13 May as part of Selfridges Project Ocean retail event at their iconic Oxford street store.

The artist will be making two species of turtle – an olive ridley and a hawksbill – from recycled and reclaimed plastics. These two turtles will be exhibited along with a third, a leatherback turtle, made by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) staff, at the Selfridges Project Ocean retail event.

FFI’s foray into art aims to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans that poses a threat to marine life around the world. Sea turtles often mistake floating plastic debris for food, leading to choking, suffocation or death from starvation. Plastics that are washed up on to turtle nesting beaches can also prevent successful nesting and floating debris can cause entanglement.

FFI works to protect marine species and habitat from plastic pollution and other threats, including poaching. Our programmes work with the three species represented at Selfridges Project Ocean in both Nicaragua and Cambodia.

Rachel Austin, Marine Programme Manager for FFI says, “The ocean has an important effect on the biosphere. Oceanic evaporation is the cause of most rainfall, and ocean temperatures dictate climate and wind patterns that affect terrestrial life. Our planet’s oceans face innumerable pressures such as overfishing, pollution and climate change.”

FFI and over 22 other NGOs will join forces for Project Ocean, which will run from 11 May to 12 June. Between 9.30 – 3pm on Friday 13 May in the Ultralounge, FFI will partner with NGO Plastic Oceans, to bring two separate but interlinked installations to life.

Project Ocean is a ‘retail activism’ campaign and initiative of Selfridges and ZSL, that celebrates the beauty of the ocean, informs consumers about over‐fishing and protecting the sea, and will hopefully change their mindsets about the fish they buy and eat.

About the artist

Helena Maratheftis is a camera-wielding compulsive scribbler with a particular fondness for robots and rhinestones. She has always been enthralled by the visual world, and is enchanted by bold pattern and dynamic use of colour. Despite working as an artist, Helena’s academic background is in biology and environmental conservation. Thus, Project Ocean is particularly close to her heart. Check out more of Helena’s work here.