Photographer Aristo Risi wanted to show people the beauty of marine life in contrast to the plastic that plagues the ocean in a new exhibition called Plastic Life.
He along with textile artist Eliza Tame, artistic collective Reuse Reefcycle, and Wollongong Freedivers' Shantel Cvetkovski hope to shine a light on the threat plastic poses and the damage already inflicted on the marine ecosystem.
The debut multimedia exhibition will be on for the next four weeks at the Ocean Space Collective gallery on Crown Street Wollongong.
Mr Risi, who graduated the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Multimedia), said it was an honour to showcase his work and raise public awareness of how damaging society's reliance on plastic is to the ocean.
As a scuba diver, he has travelled the world photographing the scourge of plastic on marine life.
"The art I produce is a type of ecological art. I have a deep connection to nature and with the ocean in particular," Mr Risi said.
"I've travelled all over the world, and the one constant, when I'm diving in new places, is the presence of plastic in our oceans.
"I feel very lucky to be able to show the public my work but also saddened that it is necessary to draw attention to plastic pollution in the first place.
"More than a million marine animals are killed each year because of plastic in the ocean.
"Our responsibility as humans is to act as environmentally conscious beings who are sharing this planet with more than one species."
The exhibition was officially opened on Thursday night and Mr Risi said the space was "packed" and people were receptive to the message.
He said the exhibition would add to the conversation about the need to reduce single-use plastic.
"People and companies are waking up to the need to ban single-use plastics and it has become a popular topic to talk about," he said.
Ms Cvetkovski's baby humpback whale installation features just some of the plastic and waste found on the beach and in the ocean when Ocean Plastic Patrol cleaned up Austinmer Beach and when Wollongong Freedivers cleaned up the harbour.
"It was great collaborating with other artists who work with a variety of mediums to highlight the need to protect marine life," he said.
The photographer hopes Illawarra residents visit the exhibition.
"Most people in the Wollongong region go for ocean swims, snorkeling, fishing and have a deep connection to the ocean," Mr Risi said.
"It is important that everyone sees the true light under the water - not just the beauty but also the destruction of the coastline."
The exhibition will be open each Thursday night from 5pm to 9pm and on Fridays from 9am to 4pm. For additional opening times, visit the Ocean Space Exhibition Facebook page.
The exhibition was made possible by the Renew Wollongong Initiative and its located at 1/148 Crown St Wollongong.