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Plastic Art - How One Artist Is Getting Creative with Bali's Plastic Problem

Jaryd Clifford Adair is the contemporary artist who has mastered illustration, street art, graphic design - and now, plastic art. The Bali based creator has recently revealed his latest project; Sole Protector - an explosion of colour and soul, yet a sobering reminder of the impact of plastic pollution on our environment.

We chatted with Jaryd this Plastic Free July to discover the motivation behind the project, his thoughts on plastic waste in Bali and art as a form of activism.


Tell us about your new piece, Sole Protector? What was the inspiration behind it?

Sole Protector was a commission piece for a client who asked me to create a mosaic. After spending time with Lina Klauss (artivist who did the giant installation at Potato Head titled “5000 Lost Soles”), she suggested I make it from discarded sandals.

The whole piece revolves around the Hindu symbol for OM which in short is the soul, self and within. The moon on the left, sun on the right with an 8 surrounding the whole thing to represent continual movement, while always coming back to self. 

Triangles are one of the client’s favourite shapes and the eyes offer protection as when one looks into an eye they see a reflection of self.

Collection of the sandals happened primarily at one sunset, with the clients, at a river mouth that somehow gets an extensive amount of driftwood, garbage and thankfully (though not thankfully!) sandals.

We collected over 250 sandals in less than an hour. It was heavy on the heart to experience that.

Not since moving to Bali did I recognise the impact and awareness art can have, not only as a finished product but during the process and with materials chosen.

The collection process raised eyebrows and questions through out its entirety. What most view as garbage and just another problem began to shift when they saw such a mass amount being picked up with the intention of not only repurposing but also being able to generate income from its end result. It ignites imagination and hopefully a little awareness of the impact a purchase can have once its purpose has been served.

A lack of red, orange and yellow sandals took me back to the river mouth once more as I didn’t have enough colour to complete my vision properly. Lina told me the reason for this is because the colours mimic food, which results in them being eaten by sea birds and fish.


Why did you want to bring awareness to the plastic waste in Bali?

I like to raise awareness by action and not preaching that others should follow and do as I do. Everyday conscious action and decisions. I’m not perfect, but my girlfriend and I do our best to be aware of what we buy and use on a daily basis. Minimal take-aways, no plastic straws or water bottles, and taking the time to pick up garbage when we walk the dog on the beach. All one can do is their pART.


Bali in recent years has had a rising plastic pollution issue, how (other than your work) is that being addressed now amongst the community?

Bali is as forward thinking as their economy allows them to be I think.

From my understanding a lot of foreigners and locals who care have worked to ban plastic bags and straws. I believe next year they will also ban single use cups and lids.

People will only take action if it affects their wallets or hearts. Unfortunately for most people these issues are blocked out and not cared for because they don’t see how one item can affect anything (said 7 billion people). It becomes convenience over genuine care. I believe it requires education and somebody to offer a solution to these easy grab items.


What are you thoughts on ways we can begin tackling plastic waste?

My idea (please steal it and pay me later) is for the government to adopt a program that requires tourists to purchase a mandatory sustainable package when they pay for their visitors visa on arrival. This would include a canvas bag, water bottle and bamboo or metal straw. A suggestion to download the app RefillMyBottle and for every business to offer either free or affordable refill stations.

When they leave they can take the items or donate them to a local who needs them.

That and getting the “influencer” community to actually start influencing something that matters!



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