Artist Vanessa Barragão uses deadstock rugs to illustrate impact of the textile industry on coral reefs

Coral Garden, a coral reef-inspired installation made from discarded pieces of rugs, is aiming to show the extent to which the textile industry is polluting the environment.

Portugese textile artist Vanessa Barragão collected unused yarn from a carpet factory in Portugal to create wall hangings and rugs that imitate the structure of coral reefs.

Growing up by the seaside, the artist’s connection to the ocean is the inspiration for her artworks, intricately combining craft and recycled materials into unique and luxurious sculptural carpets and tapestries for floors and walls.

The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world. Machinery deployed in the textile industry requires tonnes of energy while generating huge amounts of textile waste. It is extremely harmful for the planet, affecting all of its different natural environments, particularly the ocean which absorbs 90% of the atmosphere pollution.

Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one-quarter of all ocean species depending on reefs for food and shelter. But coral reefs are increasingly threatened by bleaching, industrial pollution, invasive species, overfishing, plastic pollution, and ocean acidification, which is when the oceans absorb too much carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions and acidify.

Vanessa Barragão’s Coral Garden aims to demonstrate the effects of pollution on coral reefs. A large tapestry with its coral structures rich in colour is then stripped of this vibrancy to reveal white and cream rugs, demonstrating coral bleaching.

The artist sets out to be as environmentally friendly as possible in her production methods, emphasising the importance of upcycling. All materials used throughout her artworks come from the deadstock of an artisanal rugs factory in Beiriz, Portugal. The waste product is first cleaned and then selected for reuse.

Vanessa Barragão uses traditional handcrafting techniques such as latch hooking, hand-tufting, embroidering, felting and crocheting to produce her artworks.

Vanessa Barragão

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at


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