Artists turn plastic waste into art

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The Department of Illumination’s latest creation has something fishy about it.

The Prince Edward County art collective is known for organizing the Firelight Lantern Festival and the Ice Box Art Show, as well as a scarecrow festival.

The latest work by its members is a fish-shaped float commissioned for a Kingston water parade.

Members of Kingston’s Calliope Collective commissioned the float for their Water-themed Hydra Parade.

The organizers asked the illuminators to create something inspired by plastic pollution – a big and growing problem around the world. The department’s artistic director, Krista Dalby, and Nella Casson were the leading artists.

“We wanted to create something beautiful while also addressing widespread plastic pollution in our waterways,” Dalby said in a press release.

They created a 13 foot long fangs blue fish called “Plastic Bites Back”. It was attached to a floating dock and pulled by kayakers to minimize its impact on the environment.

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It wasn’t a small job. The artists asked people to bring them recyclable plastic, collected more than 200 detergent and water jugs, and cut them into fish scales.

They then attached the scales to a frame made of cane, bamboo, and wood.

The float of the illumination The float of the illumination “Plastic Bites Back” goes into the water. Krista Dalby Plastic Bites Back's scales came from more than 200 plastic detergent and water bottles.  Nella Casson Plastic Bites Back’s scales came from more than 200 plastic detergent and water bottles. Nella Casson

The project has led to further inspiration: The artists are now asking people to donate inflatable beach and pool toys, including those with holes. You’ll collect them at the Mustang Drive-in luggage shows on July 25, August 8, and August 15. Admission is free.

Those unable to arrive on these dates can contact Dalby at [email protected] or, to find out more, visit or follow @deptofilliumination on Facebook and Instagram.

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