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London - You can never quite be sure what the sea will throw up. But if you happen to be a surfer who combines athletic feats on a board with a skilled touch in the studio, then any ocean detritus can be transformed into something dramatic.

Artists João Parrinha, Luis de Dios and Xandi Kreuzeder – who collectively work as Skeleton Sea ( – have made a name for themselves through the sculptures and installations they make using items they find on beaches and in the waves.

Surfers as much as they are creative types, the trio started out simply by collecting rubbish and washed-up materials they encountered while riding oceanic breakers – old lifebuoys separated from ships, shards of metal from wrecked vessels, scraps of rubber, chunks of wood, floating plastics and other myriad non-biodegradable substances.

But they soon found they could turn this trash into rather more beautiful objects – and make a pertinent point while doing so.

By turning burst tyres, clusters of electric cables, dead car parts and strips of blackened metal into marine creatures such as life-size sharks – complete with teeth and fins – they have been able to stress the importance of keeping the oceans free of pollution.

Other creations have included giant fish constructed from can lids, soft drink containers and lost flip-flops – and human figures shaped out of discarded rubber gloves.

Roxy Mermaid, meanwhile, sees an iconic female figure of oceanic legend perched, in multicoloured fashion, on a large ball of abandoned fishing nets. It was devised by Kreuzeder from flotsam picked up on various beaches in Africa and south-east Asia.

“The creative idea behind the work was to contrast the beauty of this well-known mythical being with the ugly truth that lurks beneath the surface of our oceans,” he says.

“Roxy Mermaid represents another way for us to spread the collective’s environmental message based around the importance of keeping our oceans clean.”

The trio have exhibited their work in Spain and in Biarritz, in western France.

They have also held workshops at Msambweni, just south of Mombasa on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast – with the aim of promoting the welfare of the region’s turtle population, plus the concept of clean beaches.

The sculptures went on show at Surfers Lodge Peniche ( – a beachside retreat in the small Portuguese town of Peniche, which nestles on its own circular peninsula, nearly 100km north of Lisbon.

The town is a neat fit for such an exhibition, assailed on all sides by Atlantic waves – while the hotel’s roof terrace proved to be a suitable gallery.

The exhibition was held over Easter, but will return for a second round in September. – Daily Mail