Dubai: Floating plastic bag fish, straws piercing the bodies of marine life, bottles bobbing along their shorelines, reefs choking under tons of washed up garbage and sea animals suspended belly-up bloated from ingesting plastic — these are some harrowing stories that are brought to life with first-hand accounts in a creative Plastic or Planet campaign launched by National Geographic Abu Dhabi with a group of 12 artists.
The 12 artists, who are from the 12 countries most responsible for the nine million tons of plastic being dumped into the world’s oceans every year, have embarked on a unique partnership with National Geographic Abu Dhabi to drive awareness of our planet’s plastic pollution crisis.
National Geographic Abu Dhabi has dedicated one month of its 2019 calendar to each artist from those countries.
Each illustration represents the artist’s unique cultural and artistic sensibilities. And while each art piece is diverse, what unites them is a shared warning on the dangers of single-use plastics.
The 12 artists in the 2019 Calendar are Helena Iyzu from Bangladesh, Sheng Chen from China, Ahmed Karam from Egypt, Pavan Rajurkar from India, Kathrin Honesta from Indonesia, Kelseyz from Malaysia, Thomas Ero from Nigeria, Kristy Anne Ligones from the Philippines, Wilmari Botha from South Africa, Ruwangi Amarasinghe from Sri Lanka, Bom Cherdsak from Thailand and Thao Mien Phan from Vietnam.
With Egypt alone consuming 12 billion tons of single-use plastic in one year, Karam’s illustration showcases a tiny dolphin trapped in a large plastic bag.
The artist said: “This is a big problem that we are ignoring and I wanted to represent it in my art. By deliberately creating the dolphin smaller than the bag, trapped within it, I am illustrating how we underplay the issue. This will only result in a bigger problem, if we don’t act now.”
Thai artist Bom Cherdsak, whose work was inspired by a dying pilot whale off the coast of Thailand, after choking on 80 plastic bags, said: “The message I want to send out is that plastics are more dangerous than we think.”