In her work photographer, Claudia Mauderer recognises that plastic waste material threatens nature.
The young photographer and recent graduate of the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography was shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Award 2021 Student competition, with her story Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Claudia’s story features Twyg’s Changemaker winner of the Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020, Lara Klawikowski. Claudia says that Lara “has created a collection of beautiful garments made from recycled, up-cycled and re-used pieces of plastic and off-cuts of industrial material. Lara was inspired by different flowers in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
Plastic bags and other plastic products contributed R76 billion to South Africa’s economy in 2016. According to Plastics SA, up to 60 000 people work in South African plastics-related industries. Fast fashion relies enormously on virgin plastic, the report estimates that 63 percent of the materials used for clothing in 2015 was virgin plastic compared to less than 3 percent of that recycled material.
We asked Claudia some follow up questions:
How did you become interested in sustainable fashion?
While still at high school, in 2014, my dad took me to a secondhand clothing market in the Woodstock Hall where people were selling vintage, secondhand and preloved clothing along with uncommon items such as vinyl records. I immediately became drawn to this way of “shopping” for clothing as I got to interact with interesting people while buying affordable vintage clothing. I stopped supporting mass-produced fashion and started supporting people and local businesses.
How can design positively change human behaviour?
Design has the power to evoke emotion and make people feel good about what they are wearing or seeing. I believe a change of human behaviour happens. The youth are exposed to a large platform of social media that constantly educates them about what it means to be creative, that shows what it takes to be creative and what happens to our waste.
What drew you to Lara’s design?
I knew fast fashion was a huge concern for our environment but as I did more research my eyes opened wider and my jaw dropped lower to the ground. Through my research, I found that recycling should not be the first answer to all things waste-related. Reducing and reusing should be the first two options. My research delved deeper as I was on the hunt to find a local designer who implemented the first two important steps in fashion. I took one look at Lara’s designs, read the description of her work and knew I needed to capture her garments. Lara’s deigns immediately remind me of flowers and that is what sparked the concept of my project.
Why did you shoot in the gardens?
After meeting with Lara and seeing her designs in person I was so inspired and had so many ideas. I knew that I wanted to portray the contrast between plastic waste and nature, so I created the idea of capturing Lara’s exquisite flower-inspired garments in our local protected botanical garden, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
Tell me a bit about you.
I graduated from Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography in 2020. I majored in photography and have a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communications. I submitted my work to the Sony World Photography Awards during the final few months of my final year of studying and was greatly surprised to be announced a finalist in the 2021 Sony World Photography Awards. I’m currently situated between Cape Town and Stellenbosch, where I am building up my wedding photography portfolio.
What kind of work would you like to do?
I plan to build a strong wedding photography business that would be available worldwide while still exercising my creative photography skills. I love working with people with unique qualities. Photography is an indescribable deep passion of mine that I am so grateful to be able to express myself in. What keeps me motivated are the photoshoots with amazing people that I meet along the way, working with a great team and seeing the results at the end of the day.