Artist Alexander Groves and architect Azusa Murakami of London-based interdisciplinary design practice Studio Swine explore the long tradition of maritime crafts in Gyrecraft, a new project consisting of an ocean journey, five unique sculptures, and a short film. Gyrecraft draws attention to the disappearing tradition of maritime crafts throughout the world, as well as the growing problem of plastic pollution in the ocean.
Sailing through the North Atlantic Gyre, the artists sailed 1,000 nautical miles while collecting discarded plastic they found floating in the water. Using a solar powered machine they designed and build, The Solar Extruder melts the tiny plastic fragments collected into a decorative material which are then made into sculptures. Reminiscent of turtle shells and whale tooth, the artists then transforme the once drifting plastic into unique works of art inspired by local craft traditions present in coastal and island cultures around the world. The sculptures represented the five gyres they have traveled through.
The first gyre was discovered by Captain Charles Moore in the North Pacific. The stretch of sea between Russia and Alaska is notorious for industrial crab fishing. Studies on crabs which inhabit the depths of the Bering Strait have found increasing plastic particles in their respiratory systems.
The South Pacific has the largest expanse of water in the world. The remote island communities have survived and thrived entirely on the sea. As a result, they have developed a distinctive vernacular style of cats with a complex gift-giving culture with precious materials such as turtle shell, black pearls, and tropical hardwoods.
The South Atlantic is renowned for treacherous storms whipping around the great capes of South America and Africa in a stretch of sea called the Roaring Forties. This vessel refers to the many polar expeditions that cross this dangerous passage.
The Indian Ocean has some of the heaviest shipping traffic in the world; globally, more than 10,000 container crates are lost each year. The Sentinelese people of the Andaman Islands are the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world. Although isolated from the modern world, they receive the newest synthetic materials in the form of ocean plastic.
The North Atlantic Gyre is situated near the Azores. These islands had a major whaling industry that was driven by the global demand for whale oil in a time before the discovery of petroleum. The Azores have a long tradition of scrimshaw craft, which is a form of engraving on whale teeth that was done to relieve boredom and maintain order amongst the crew when there was no wind and no whales.
Image Credits: mymodernmet.com