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San Remo pelican sculpture

Bottle-top-eating pelican inspires visitors to reduce marine litter.

Project information

  • Name: San Remo Pelican Sculpture
  • Lead: San Remo Foreshore Committee of Management
  • Location: San Remo Foreshore
  • Themes: public place art; marine wildlife; plastics and ocean pollution; marine debris; working with schools

Does art have the power to change the world? Can it reach people and engage their senses in a way that data cannot? Can it spur thinking, engagement and even action? 
The San Remo Foreshore Committee of Management wanted to find out. 

“We have lots of school groups using the San Remo foreshore as a stopover on their way to excursions and camps,” explained Chris Johnstone, the Secretary at San Remo Pelican Sculpture. 

Pelican sculpture at San Remo“We engaged a local artist to create an interactive piece of art to highlight the excess of plastic in the oceans, and its effect on birds, fish and other sea creatures. 

“Our artist created a pelican – an iconic local bird. The pelican is see-through, and visitors can insert plastic bottle tops into its beak and a small hole in the chest and watch as they tumble into its belly.” 

“When its tummy is full, kids from San Remo Primary School open a flap and collect all the bottle tops, ready to be recycled.

“We also created information sheets and guided tasks for visiting school groups, to deepen their awareness of marine litter,” added Chris. 

Lots of positive comments

“It’s early days in terms of measuring project results, but we’ve had lots of positive comments from locals and visitors,’ explained Chris. “They’ve commented on the sculpture and the message behind it, with many visitors saying they’ve not thought about the issue of marine litter before.”

What we could do better

“Our project was run by volunteers, so we were working as and when we could on the project. We managed to pull everything together, but we did have a delay on the signage explaining the sculpture. This meant it wasn’t ready for the launch, which wasn’t ideal because it explained how to interact with the sculpture.”

Moving forward

“The pelican is still in place and will be for the foreseeable future. The local primary school is still monitoring bottle tops inside the pelican’s tummy. Once it’s full, they will empty it and analyse the contents.

“Public art is great way to enrich the landscape and I would encourage others to use it to raise awareness of environmental issues like marine litter,” added Chris. 

“Even small items of litter can affect the marine environment. Hopefully, locals and visitors will be inspired to dispose of plastic more thoughtfully, so we can clean up our marine environment now and for years to come.”

More information

Contact Chris Johnstone, Secretary at San Remo Pelican Sculpture on 0400 426 415 or email chris@jardinejohnstone.com.au