Bondi Ocean Lovers Festival - John Dahlsen 20 Year Retrospective Review


The inaugural Bondi Ocean Lovers Festival is around the corner (from April 11th – 14th); where a plethora of events are celebrating our oceans with solutions to ocean recovery, cool products, and ideas on how we can all live as Ocean lovers not destroyers.

Conservation is this year’s driving theme with live entertainment, art, photography, film, workshops, talks and walks. There’s an Ocean Lovers Lap swim and run event, yoga, surfing, a beach clean up, indigenous coastal care, sustainable dining and parties, and what a more extraordinary way to kick off the festivities than a stroll through the art gallery exhibition that launched the festival, Waste No More by multi award winning Australian Environmental artist John Dahlsen.

Held at Bondi Beach’s iconic Pavilion, assembled is a 20 year retrospective of Dahlsen’s work; where he, for literally 20 years, collected ocean and coastal waste globally, creating kaleidoscopic colours and shapes from objects as miniscule as toothbrushes, thongs, plastic bags; anything non-sustainable, and transforming them into distinctive aesthetic works of art.

Dahlsen’s art highlights the ludicrous, sad and serious reality that there now exists an island known as Plastic Garbage Patch, which is twice the size of Texas. His work protests the recklessness of policy makers, big business and society, all contributors to the ocean litter issue, and is a reminder to us all about the plight of our oceans, and how every little piece of plastic no matter how miniscule ends up in our beautiful natural habitat.

His extraordinary creations from a Pastel Thong Totem, White Plastic Litter Paintings, Pink Plastics, Foam Totems, and Plastic bag abstractions while highly superficial, are also deeply mesmerizing and disturbing. Is that small head of a toothbrush I used really ending up in the ocean and doing this much damage? That little piece of plastic that tightens a mere loaf of bread; how did it all become so toxic? You really found all those hairbrushes out there? And those thongs? ALL those thongs discarded in the world are ending up in our beautiful waters?

Art asks questions and makes us think. In this case, you will be rethinking your environmental footprint.  

The exhibition is free with works for sale.

For more information check out the Bondi Pavilion Galleries. Open from April 2nd and

Reviewed by Georgia Cassimatis