Circular Revolution | New Exhibition turns Marine Plastic into Art

A new art exhibition ‘The Circular Revolution – Towards Zero’ involving 12 primary schools across Clare has been designed and curated by Carmel Madigan, a professional artist and founder of the Loop Head Summer Hedge School.

As part of the Explorers Education Programme in Clare, students have created unique artworks from marine plastic litter that will be on display at Culturlann Sweeney, Kilkee from Monday 15th to Friday 26th April 2019.

Over 750 students participating in the Explorers Education Programme in Clare have creatively transformed plastic found along the seashore, into artworks to showcase their learnings. The plastics have been regenerated to create artworks such as ‘Vessels from the Sea’, ‘Save Our Coral Reefs’, ‘Emotions for Our Ocean’ and ‘Bite Sized Plastics for Sea Birds’.

Madigan inspired by Picasso, who was one of the first modern day artists to make artworks using recycled materials, has collected exceptional materials such as plastics from the seashore which been used in the classroom to create magnificent pieces of artwork by the students.

Plastic fish as part of an installation (Credit Carmel Madigan)

“The problem with plastics is that they are seen as trash and are usually discarded after a single use. Collecting marine plastics from the seashore takes time and effort and leads to a cleaning and segregation process. By seeing marine plastics not as trash but as raw material, new and creative channels are opened up,” Ms Madigan said.

As part of the Explorers Programme, Madigan has worked with students to find solutions in relation to reducing, reusing and recycling plastics in their school and community. “After learning about the need to reuse materials, and make the most of earth’s resources many students have said they are now more willing to choose treats with plastic-free packaging and use a Toy Library instead of purchasing non-recyclable plastic toys,” Ms Madigan said.

Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Marine Institute congratulated Carmel for her enthusiasm and inspiration, often showcasing new ways of how we can incorporate marine-related issues on the primary school curriculum. “It is great to see an increased interest from teachers and students to reduce their use of single-use plastics and find creative ways to re-use marine plastics. It’s amazing to hear that children are making a difference at a local level by reducing their use of plastic in their school and community. It is through their creativity and innovation, that they will become the generation that creates change.”

Primary school students use marine plastics to create art (Credit Carmel Madigan)

The exhibition will be launched by Dr Margaret Rae, Director Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) and Ms Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Communications at the Marine Institute on Monday 15th April.

The  Explorers Education Programmes provides lesson plans, resources and activities for primary school teachers to inspire student’s interest and knowledge in our ocean, marine environment, species and seashores. The Explorers Education Programme is supported by the Marine Institute and funded by the Irish Government. For more information, visit

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22