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Inflatable art spreads global messages

Arts & Culture

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Artist Evelyn Roth’s unique, handcrafted educational creations are popping up all over the world.

For the past 25 years Roth, has been making her Festival Arts inflatable ‘Nylon Zoo’ animals from the dinner table of her Maslin’s Beach home.

With many of the creations reaching 15 metres in height, they are being used in countries including Germany, the United States, Brazil, China and Canada to educate people on environmental issues, endangered species, public health and ecology.

The enormous animals create a mobile schoolroom and can fit up to 50 people at a time inside, where a trained storyteller imparts the socially responsible message.

The meticulously crafted animals are hand sewn with stunning colours made from nylon material to create a cathedral-like ambience inside.

“The different-coloured pieces of material capture and blend light to provide an effect similar to stained-glass windows you would find in a church,’’ Roth says.

“The designs interact with the people inside to make a fascinating, enjoyable and engaging intimate atmosphere where people are inspired to listen and learn and are subconsciously imprinted with the stories.’’

Roth's seals in Hawaii.

Roth’s seals in Hawaii.

Roth returned from Hawaii last week after being commissioned to create a southern right whale and two monk seals to highlight the plight of these endangered animals.

“The monk seal colony on Kauai in Hawaii is the last remaining colony in the world,’’ she says.

“It is important local people understand how important this colony is, the threats to its survival and what people can do to help.’’

Roth is a staunch environmentalist and is dedicated to using her art to help highlight important social issues across the world.

The Nylon Zoo is also educating people across Australia, with creations popping up at festivals and fairs and also in remote outback indigenous communities.

“I recently created an enormous inflatable ear which was used to create awareness about deafness and hearing health in remote Aboriginal communities,’’ Roth says.

“People are able to walk through the ear and identify the inner workings and learn how to protect and foster hearing health. It worked in conjunction with a public health nurse who was on hand to explain things, answer questions and provide advice.’’

Evelyn Roth Inflatable Animals

A member of the Nylon Zoo.

Roth moved to Australia 25 years ago from Canada and has been creating the inflatable animals on her kitchen table.

“I still make them on my kitchen table and they are all hand-stitched nylon – not plastic.

“It probably takes around 70 hours to create one inflatable animal. When finished, the artwork fits inside a backpack and can be easily inflated and put on display.’’

Giant salmon are currently being used in Brazil and Alaska, a platypus in Germany, a beaver in Canada, and dragons in Singapore and Hong Kong. Other creations include a swamp monster, rooster, giant squid and a tiger.

Roth has also displayed creations from her Nylon Zoo at the annual WOMADelaide for the past 20 years.

This article was first published on The Lead.


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