Artist MISHVANIA in her studio
The month of June brings with it a very special artist showcase on our featured artist wall. MISHVANIA (Michelle Beattie)’s beach plastic creations are more than eye-catching designs, they serve as a powerful reminder of our impact as consumers on the planet.
“Having a visual, sculpted art piece using found objects from the beach is me showing people what’s actually happening and what’s out there in the ocean and the issues that’s causing.”
Michelle, a lifelong ocean enthusiast, has always felt a deep connection to the sea. Growing up in Plettenberg Bay, she cherished every moment spent on the beach and in the water. Even as a child, she collected small plastic fragments, lovingly calling them ‘Mermaid’s tears’. Years later, while residing in Kommetjie, Cape Town, Michelle discovered these same fragments littering the local beaches, igniting her curiosity. A Google search revealed the disturbing truth about these pieces: they were actually raw plastic particles known as nurdles transported in vast containers across our oceans.
Armed with this newfound knowledge, Michelle felt compelled to take action. Determined to raise awareness about the ocean’s plight, she dedicated herself to collecting every piece of plastic she encountered during her beach walks. Though she shared her discoveries on social media, it seemed to do little to move others to action.
With the onset of COVID and the resulting dip in work as a graphic designer in the events industry, Michelle found solace and a creative outlet in transforming her collection of beach plastic into art.
“When friends and family visited, these colourful creations would catch their eye and draw them in. They’d look a little closer and recognise objects that were familiar to them and be surprised that I’d found this amount of plastic on the beach and that would get a conversation started. To me, the most important thing was that finally I could give the ocean a voice.”
This encouraged her to keep on going, creating her conversational pieces to spread the word and continue to raise awareness.
Namaqualand by MISHVANIA
“If I don’t show you, you will not see.”
People often tell her they go down to the beach and don’t see the plastic washed up there, and that’s when her tagline was born: ‘If I don’t show you, you will not see’.
“It’s really about educating people,” she explains. “My life philosophy would really be to ask people to consider and challenge themselves when they’re at the shops – think of alternative choices.”
Turtle by MISHVANIA
Start with the little things
Her works are vibrant, conceptual art sculptures that serve as a call to action. In spite of their serious messages, they convey a deep optimism. It’s a lesson in focusing on what you can do rather than falling prey to an attitude of futility.
“What I always say to people is to not try and change everything in one go because it is extremely overwhelming, but rather start with one item at a time and maybe one room in your home at a time. That’s how my journey with my plastic challenge started.”
Coral Reef Bleaching by MISHVANIA
Join us at Noordhoek Art Point this June to experience the profound artistry and environmental consciousness of Michelle Beattie. Immerse yourself in her compelling works that intertwine beauty and awareness, and be inspired to make a difference in the world we share.
Follow her at instagram.com/mishvania_art