New Brunswick

Garbage critters: Giant turtle joins artist's collection of trash art at Moncton festival

Moncton's Festival Inspire unveiled its first masterpiece on Thursday - an art installation from Portugal based artist Bordalo II, whose art is featured around the world.

Art piece helps raise awareness of wood turtles as an at-risk species in Greater Moncton area

This art installation by Portugal-based artist Bordalo II, was created at Festival Inspire in 2017. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

Moncton's Festival Inspire unveiled its first masterpiece on Thursday – an art installation by Portugal-based artist Bordalo II, whose work is featured around the world.

The festival incorporates murals, live art, street performances and music.

On Tuesday, Bordalo started with a pile of plastic trash gathered from around the city and the recycle centre, which he then turned it into a giant wood turtle, emerging from the wall of the Starving Artist Cafe in downtown Moncton.

"I have a picture as a reference to use as a sketch. Then its about free-styling, shaping, cutting, drilling – until I can create the image that I'm looking for," he said.

Sending a message

More than a ton of plastic was used in the art piece. Bordalo said he wanted to send a message to society to stop being wasteful.

"This piece is part of a series of work that I call big trash animals. I'm making portraits and images of animals, or elements from the nature, with what's killing it – contamination, pollution, trash and all this stuff." he said.

"In this one here, I left the shell of the turtle not painted, with the original colours of the materials, so it's easier to recognize what kind of trash is there."

Bordalo II stands in front of his giant wood turtle art installation at the back of the Starving Artist Cafe in downtown Moncton. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

The Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance sponsored the art installation to raise awareness about wood turtles, a local, at-risk species.

"Not a lot of people know we have species at risk here, so our organization has been doing scientific monitoring of the species and we found that pollution can sometimes heavily affect the species," said executive director Christine McLauchlan.

"So we're really excited to have this partnership with Festival Inspire and to bring an artist who can tie both the scientific studies of the turtles and the waste reduction pieces together."

Christine McLauchlan, executive director of the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance, said the organization sponsored Bordalo II's art installation to raise awareness of an at-risk species - the wood turtle. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

Seeing the finished piece was humbling, McLauchlan said.

"As a scientist, it's rare that you're able to communicate a scientific principal or a message in such an interesting and innovative kind of way, so we're very thankful for the Festival Inspire to have given us that opportunity," she said.

More than trash

Bordalo said he's also happy with his work in Moncton.

"Obviously, the new pieces are always favourite ... but I don't know, I like them all," he said.

3D mural of wood turtle made from recycled trash

6 years ago
Duration 0:35
Festival Inspire has unveiled its first masterpiece in Moncton--an art installation from Portugal based artist Bordalo II.

But there is one art piece he's especially proud of, he said.

"I transformed a trash container into a gift, and it was at Christmas time, made with all the trash that was around like the packages from the gifts," he said.

"I called it 'The Gift for the Mother Nature' because in the end of the Christmas and all the consumerism stuff, that's what we give to the nature – a pile of trash."

One of Bordalo II's favourite pieces is called "Our Gift to Mother Nature." ( Bordalo II/Facebook)

Bordalo's next stop is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he'll continue his trash animal series with a raccoon.

"It's going to be at the recycle centre for a project called 'Scrap the Trap' and it's about all these animals, they got trapped in these human traps because people don't like them," he said. 

"For me that doesn't make sense, so I'm really happy to be part of that project."