John Dahlsen





John Dahlsen

My creative medium shifted from abstract painting to working as an environmental artist, as a result of an artistic accident during the mid 1990's. I was collecting driftwood, on a remote Victorian Coastline, with the intention of making furniture and stumbled upon vast amounts of plastic ocean debris.

The initial collection of thee objects, consisted of approximately 80 jumbo garden bags full of beach found litter.
When I first piled this collection up in my studio, I had friends drop by asking if I was okay!
However I knew that an unseen intelligence was at work and soon realized the potential of a giant palate. Then I began the selections of yellow coloured plastics to make up it’s own pile in the studio, then the red, then the blues, the rope & strings, the plastic coke bottles, the thongs etc. Soon the floor of the studio did resemble a giant painters palate. Seeing all this develop had the effect of sewing the seed for, I later had the notion of making assemblages of each of these objects once sorted this occurred to me as a natural extension of the process I was undergoing in the studio. This whole new palette of colour and shape revealing itself to me immediately affected me; I had never seen such hues and forms before which enabled me to make new environmental art.

Since then - for approximately 15 years, I scoured Australian beaches for found objects, much of which I found as washed up 'ocean litter'. I have since discovered this is a worldwide phenomenon, affecting beaches on a global level. I bought these plastics back to my studio to sift, sort, and colour-code for my assemblages, sculptures and installations. As I worked with these objects, I became even more fascinated by the way they had been modified and weathered by the ocean and nature's elements. My challenge as an artist was to take these found objects, which might on first meeting have no apparent dialogue, and to work with them until they spoke and told their story, which included those underlying environmental messages inherent in the use of this kind of medium.

http://www.johndahlsen.com/enviro_art.html