NT artist transforms deadly ghost nets into treasures 

Aly De Groot creates artworks based on environmental themes

Northern Territory artist Aly de Groot has an innovative approach to highlighting the plight of our threatened and protected marine species. She transforms marine debris into pieces of art.

Marine debris such as discarded fishing nets, commonly known as ghost nets, are a major threat to marine wildlife in northern waters and have been linked to the death of turtles, dugongs, crocodiles, sharks, seabirds, and fish.

Ms De Groote, who recently completed an Australian Government Research Scholarship in Visual Arts at Charles Darwin University, collects discarded materials such as recycled fishing nets to create woven sculptural works.

“I have always lived near the beach and developed a love for marine life and the environment,” Ms De Groot said.

“I really enjoy the textures and colours of the nets and fishing lines, and love that I can utilise materials and turn part of a massive environmental threat into a positive.”

Ms De Groot, who is a PhD candidate at CDU, will create a body of work that looks at the use and importance of fibre art as a mechanism to respond to environmental concerns.

“I see art as a means to create a relationship with the land and educate people about the fragility of the relationship between us and our marine environment,” Ms De Groot said.

“The jellyfish I have created represent something that is beautiful, but also deadly and are symbolic of the human attraction and reliance that is ultimately destroying the marine environment.”

Ms De Groote said an important aspect of her art practice was sharing her skills. She regularly teaches fibre art workshops for adults and children in the Northern Territory and nationally.

“The ghost nets are a great medium to use to make people more aware of the environmental issues. It is also an art material that is often overlooked as having the potential to be made into something creative and should be collected,” she said.

Ms De Groote has been invited by co-ordinators of the Ghost Nets Project to travel to Groote Eylandt in March to work with local Indigenous weavers to experiment with ways to utilise ghost nest in their artworks.

Ms De Groote was recently filmed in her studio at CDU for an ABC national arts program that will be broadcast in February.