The Alarming Message Behind These Awesome Animal Murals Made of Trash

Portuguese street artist Bordalo II salvages street garbage, car parts and old machinery from landfill to create public installations of giant, colorful animals. His huge yet adorable characters are a confronting reminder of the growing tension between nature and humanity. We caught up with Bordalo II for an insight into his life as an activist and an artist.

When did you make your first trash animal?

My first one was a crab made at the Walk&Talk Festival 2013 in Azores. At the time, I was exploring the trash materials for different thematics and compositions, but not necessarily to create animals.

I saw some kids messing with the little crabs in the seaside rocks, so I decided to create a big crab who could defend himself.


Is there an overarching feeling or message you hope to give to your audience?

Big Trash Animals is a series of artworks that aims to draw attention to a current problem that is likely to be forgotten , become trivial or a necessary evil. The problem involves waste production, materials that are not reused, pollution and its effect on the planet.

The idea is to depict nature itself, in this case animals, out of materials that are responsible for its destruction.

What sorts of materials do you use? Where do you source them?

These works are built with end-of-life materials: the majority found in waste lands, abandoned factories or randomly. Some are obtained from companies who are going through a recycling process.


Damaged bumpers, burnt garbage cans, tires and appliances are just some of the objects that can be identified when you go into detail.

What are some of the challenges that arise in the process of creating your trash animals?

This may sound strange, but in a few countries where there’s no recycling at all it’s very hard to find the materials that I need. It all goes to waste land mixed in a disgusting soup that destroys ecosystems.


Which has been your favorite and why?

My favorite isn’t a trash animal. Its a gift box made from a trash container and all the trash that was around it. It was done for Christmas a few years ago. It’s the top meaning of my work – consumerism vs waste.


Which has been your most challenging piece, and why?

Probably all the early ones as they were new experiences – not only was I learning about the shapes but also how to use the tools throughout my process.

A few months ago I built a pelican in an abandoned boat that was far from land. It was so hard to get the piece done that at times I wasn’t sure that I would be able to finish it.

What inspires you?

Nature.. and a few artists and personalities that are running in the right direction in a world that’s upside down.


If you could go back in time to when you first began making art and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

I’m happy about how everything started. Maybe without advice I became more proactive and motivated the with a model of “how to make it work.”

What is your greatest dream as an artist?

As a person, to change the world.

To see more of Bordalo II’s work, visit¬†

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