The Ersatz Fantasia Project

28 April 2015
Over the weekend I visited The Ersatz Fantasia Project exhibition at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, a fantasy forest of recycled toys, games and plastic products that would otherwise end up in landfill.

The Ersatz Fantasia Project

The main room is created to look like a magical forest. In the center is a tree covered with discarded plastics toys. Surrounding the tree lays a garden with a path guiding viewers along, passing a bench made of teddy bears and by a fairy garden.

The Ersatz Fantasia Project evolved when I realised how many material items my family of six have accumulated. I was particularly shocked at the number of toys my children had, and how quickly they outgrew or became disinterested in them. Not only that, but the majority of the plastic toys were either broken or had parts missing. This work extends beyond me as the artist. Community members, friends and family have contributed to the making of the work or donated materials. Many toys in this exhibition were also collected from charities which, not being able to offer them for sale, would have otherwise been forced to pay for their disposal. Words from the artist Rachael Hallinan. 

For someone who tries their hardest to avoid plastic walking into the room was overwhelming. I saw every object on its own. Had this exhibition existed before I went plastic free life I wonder if I would have seen each piece or would it have been just a colourful installation making a comment about plastic pollution. I also wondered what had happened to all my old toys. Is my childhood just sitting in landfill? And what will happen if I were to become a parent?

Fantasia Rules: Explore, look and find. Have fun, touch and feel. Keep to the path, keep the toys in place.

Up the stairs there was a room dedicated to workshops with different interactive stations for groups to understand the deeper meaning of the exhibition. Downstairs one could easily loose themselves in their childhood but in the workshop I was firmly reminded that this exhibition is about the future. In one corner visitors are asked to take a rubbish bin and sort the items into how long they believe each item would take to break down. Children are encouraged to create sunflowers and tulips by up-cycling scraps of paper from books and magazines. There is a place to sit down and watch the migration of a plastic bag from a grocery store parking lot to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean in the mockumentary The Majestic Plastic Bag

Join artist Rachael Hallinan to repurpose toys and create household items from 11am-12pm, 2nd May 2015. Create colourful and eye catching objects for your home. No crafty experience necessary, just have fun learning how old toys you might usually throw out can become something new and delightful! This is a free event but booking is essential.

The exhibition runs until Sunday 24 May 2015 at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Lilydale.
For more information:

Thank you to the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum for the invitation and tour. 
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