Theme: Sustainable Design

Only in his second year of fine art studies at Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth local Luke Rudman is already making a name for himself as a performance artist using his artform for good. His latest project brings awareness to the amount of plastic waste scattered around the coastline of his city as he dresses up in fantastical garments made entirely of repurposed litter from his surroundings. 

Recently, Greenpeace Africa has been commissioning Rudman to create bodies of work that it shares on its social media channels to highlight nature’s plight. 

“I collect whatever’s not meant to be there,” Rudman says of his starting point, picking up waste from the Nelson Mandela Bay coastline. “Last year I collected 50-60kg for 12 pieces of work.” He called those 12 surreal eco-art performance pieces 12 Plastic Monsters, and won a Stomp! Award for his efforts. 

The six pieces created for Greenpeace Africa this year, although equally beautiful and colourful, are more obviously seen as packets, bottle, lids… “I left them in a state that people can identify as plastic waste,” he explains of making the message around plastic pollution very clear. “Art has a particular power that maybe logic and statistics don’t have – it can humanise a problem more so than just straight info, and make it accessible for people.”

One piece has Rudman, dressed as something reminiscent of a cabaret mermaid, being photographed at the same rockpool from which he had collected all the plastic used in the piece. Another is shot as a gif, where a scene of moving plastic overwhelms rivers flowing through a city. 

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.