Through a thick Kiwi accent, artist and activist DSide explained his decision to paint a Blue Whale at scale while sitting beside a blank wall, his canvas.

Invited by PANGEASEED to partake in their SEA WALLS, MURALS FOR THE OCEANS festival in Napiers, New Zealand, DSide is collaborating with Lonely Whale to share the impact of plastics on the oceans. For the past ten years DSide has created ocean-based art, mostly under theCOLLECTIVE BMD, promoting environmental activism through his art : ARTivism.  Although he’s not much of a swimmer himself (instead “chasing winters”) DSide explains his draw to the oceans can be explained through his love of research. There’s just “so much to learn about animals” and there’s still so much more to learn about the oceans…

For so many urban dwellers the oceans are a great mystery and with only 5% explored, oceans are a scientific mystery. But for DSide ocean animals are the perfect character for urban art. Why? Well unlike land animals who require grass, a hill, or some other physical representation of the land, sea animals are easily understood. “[B]ecause they’re floating” there is an “instant urban acceptance.” ONE OF  DSIDE’S MOST FAMOUS WORKS AS BMD WITH ANDREW J STEEL CENTERED ON SHARK FINNING, the process of cutting off fins and leaving the animal to die. 192 sharks are killed every minute today so, to represent that statistic, DSide painted a mural of 192 sharks. Instead of a gruesome depiction DSide painted these sharks as individual characters, creating “a positive image out of a negative statistic.” This positivity is an important aspect of his work as he doesn’t aim to “…disturb the environment” but instead to create something beautiful out of something ugly. “A minute went by and you couldn’t even look at them all.” An overwhelming image to represent an overwhelming problem.

For his Lonely Whale collaboration, DSide is attempting something new : painting out of glass. (“Don’t hold me to it if it doesn’t work out,” he laughs.)  In using glass as a medium, DSide hopes to represent “the fragility of it [the ocean], how fragile it is because of what we’ve done.” From micro beads to water bottles, plastics have  infiltrated ocean ecosystems, disrupting food chains and ocean animal populations. Plastic pollution is one of the single most devastating issues oceans face today. However, in spite of the dire message DSide reassured that the piece won’t mar the beauty of his canvas (the wall). He explained that pleasant images lure people in, make them “…curious enough to look into it more.” This is how DSide spurs activism out of his art.

Signing off from the streets of New Zealand DSide said softly, “this will be the first whale I’ve painted. It’ll be my first whale…”

Follow along as he paints the story of our oceans and 52 on Instagram at @_DSIDE,@LONELYWHALE, @PANGEASEED

Read DSide’s Full Artist Statement for the Pangeaseed’s Sea Walls, Murals for the Oceans Festival :

Blue Whales [Balaenoptera Musculus] are the largest creatures to have ever lived amongst this Planet. 

Us human’s actively reduced their balanced population to 0.15% during the Whaling era’s around the 1930’s. The species became protected from being hunted by man directly and has tried to recover it’s numbers, though they can’t escape the constant human impact and indirect hunting of them and their environment. Their existence is as fragile as all the life in the ocean, being increasingly attacked by our miss use, void education and understanding, carelessness, and lack of action to restore the damage we’ve caused. Plastic is the army we’ve sent to the ocean, to infect all it’s inhabitant’s, an invasion that will never dissolve or leave, and will only break down to smaller and smaller scales becoming more damaging and harder to cure [plastic lasts longer than diamonds]. The Blue Whale has the loudest voice of any creature, yet our limited capacities mean we can’t hear it, and therefore it can’t speak for itself about these issues; so it’s of my intention to show respect to it’s beauty and power, it’s size and strength of existance through a 1:1 scale painting, yet in contrast, to paint it depicting it’s fragility and growing demise due to its dependancy on the Ocean, the Ocean we’ve polluted.