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Week Five – Farrah

The Turtle

I have decided that my project will focus on the turtle. This differs from my original plan to raise awareness of the effects of plastic waste on all animals who are most affected, such as whales, fish and birds. Turtles face many dangers each year due to plastic waste – it is estimated that 52% of turtles have consumed some form of plastic in their lives. I will discuss more about the dangerous effects of plastic waste as I move throughout my project, but for now I would like to leave this section with a poem by D.H. Lawrence, titled Baby Tortoise.

You know what it is to be born alone,

Baby tortoise!

The first day to heave your feet little by little from

the shell,

Not yet awake,

And remain lapsed on earth,

Not quite alive.

A tiny, fragile, half-animate bean.

To open your tiny beak-mouth, that looks

as if it would never open

Like some iron door;

To lift the upper hawk-beak from the lower base

And reach your skinny neck

And take your first bite at some dim bit of herbage,

Alone, small insect,

Tiny bright-eye,

Slow one.

Are you able to wonder?

Or is it just your indomitable will and pride of the first life

Looking round

And slowly pitching itself against the inertia

Which had seemed invincible? ….

All animate creation on your shoulder,

Set forth, little Titan, under your battle-shield.

The ponderous, preponderate,

Inanimate universe;

And you are slowly moving, pioneer, you alone….

All life carried on your shoulder,

Invincible fore-runner.

I have drawn a turtle which will be the size and shape I shall follow for my creations. The drawing is inspired by many of the photographs of turtles which are available online. In some ways I would have liked to have visited a centre where I could see turtles or tortoises to draw and photograph, but the pandemic has prevented it. I am not sure either how I feel about such places, whether or not I agree with them on a moral level. I do not like animals being kept in captivity, and was never encouraged to go to such places as a child. I am pleased with the drawing, it looks like it could be a design for something like a tattoo. I may use the drawing again as a symbol in my project.

Workshop Reflection

An endangered Chinese big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum megacephalum) at the Houston Zoo.

This workshop followed on from the last where we had to describe our imagined animals. The task for today was to pitch a proposal for a collaborative workshop in Week Eight, which takes an element from what we have been doing so far – the imagined animals, animal in general, endangered animals, the brown paper, the brown label or the vial. I knew I wanted to use the vial in some way for my proposed workshop as it had not been explored as of yet. I think vials are such a magic object, with so much potential and exciting possibilities. I have taken photographs of my proposal pitch which are below, and explain my idea in depth.

My proposal went smoothly and I felt proud of my idea and how I pitched it. I felt prepared for it which helped immensely, and it was easy and clear to follow the presentation I had designed. I enjoyed hearing everyone else’s proposals and was excited to think about what we could do as a group. It is such a shame we can not do them all as they all sounded so enjoyable, creative, reflective and energetic. It was also nice when we picked our proposals, as each person’s workshop received a vote, so we all had to vote again! Ultimately, Nidhi’s idea was chosen. She decided to collaborative with Richard, as their workshops were very similar. I am really excited to participate in it in Week 8. I know that it is inspired by endangered animals and what they may think behind the bars. It reminds me of the way that via Zoom, we all seem to be trapped behind the small square of our webcam. Some of us may even feel further trapped, having to quarantine or isolate in their rooms. The workshop will incorporate theatrical elements and drama, as well as drawing.

Turtle from a Disposable Mask

As I discussed with Miranda in my tutorial, I wanted to experiment with making turtles out of various plastic materials. I decided to use disposable masks to begin with. This is a material I have had experience with already in Semester 1, where I created pots to grow from using the masks. I already had a bag from Semester 1 of collected disinfected masks, so I was already prepared. I was not sure where to start, and had to design my own pattern and think about the best way to create a turtle. The difficulty with the masks is they are quite small, so I wanted to utilise as much space of the mask that I could. The process took me about a day to complete, but I am really happy with it and think it looks like a small cuddly toy. Perhaps this is something I could explore further – giving them to children to educate from an early age?

I have included my process pictures above. I began by drawing the turtle shape out onto the mask, including the head, arms, legs and body. I decided to create the turtle with the white side showing, not the blue of the mask. I then cut out two more body shapes. I sewed these together and turned them inside out. This was to become my shell. Using stuffing I found in my garage, I padded out the shape a bit. I did not want it too fat, just a slight texture for the hard shell of the turtle. I then sewed the turtle pattern shape over this. This meant each individual hexagon shape on the shell was padded, giving a professional finish. I then continued with the rest of the turtle. I had to cut out another body shape for the bottom, identical to the top. I sewed around the whole edge, and then tried to turn it inside out. This did not work as well as I would have liked, and the arms, legs and head were all too small. I had to improvise and cut out another set of arms, legs and head, and sewed these over the top of the existing small ones. I learnt a lot from the process and I am really happy with it overall.

Turtle from Plastic

As another experiment for making the turtles, I have created one made from plastic material. The material is what I have collected from the streets, mainly plastic bottles and clear plastic wrapping. Although useful for my project, I hate the way I can go outside and collect a large amount of plastic waste. It is not even a chance, I am certain each time that I will be able to collect the rubbish.

I felt that this experiment was useful in determining which direction to go in my project. I compared it to my creation using disposable masks and realised that it was not as successful. It felt too messy and I did not have the control I both wanted and needed over the material. The concept was strong as I used plastic materials found on the streets, but lacked the urgency and momentum of the disposable mask material.

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