Sculpture is an intriguing art form that allows artists to express obscurity in a physical medium. Sculptors are not bound by the reality of their subjects, even though their work is more tangible than that of painters, for example. This allows them to create unique works of art, such as the 50-plus animal sculptures made by Mervan Altınorak, a mosaic and sculpture artist living in the Reyhanlı district of southern Turkey's Hatay province.
What separates Altınorak's work from most others is the fact that his mermaids and horses, flamingos and fishes, all of which are in high demand abroad, are all sculpted from metal and plastic scraps.
His work seems to embody the truth behind scraps: despite appearances, they are not just a pile of garbage. Scrap consists of recyclable materials left over from product manufacturing and consumption. Vehicle parts, building supplies and surplus materials are recycled through this process.
Unlike waste, scrap has monetary value, especially recovered metals. Non-metallic materials can also be recovered for recycling.
They also provide the perfect medium to craft fascinating metallic sculptures.
Altınorak's most recently finished work is a 2.5 meter (8.2 feet) tall giraffe, sculpted with 20,000 scraps consisting of automobile, truck, tractor and motorcycle parts.
"My work attracts a lot of attention in Turkey and abroad," Altınorak told Ihlas News Agency (IHA). He explained that a Turkish citizen from Belgium had contacted him and had requested a giraffe and an elephant sculpture.
"I started the giraffe and elephant sculpture that I am working on three months ago," he said and added, "I finished the giraffe sculpture, it's 2.5 meters tall, 2 meters wide and weighs 400 kilograms (881 pounds)."
He noted that the elephant was still in the works.
Altınorak's animals form a striking image with gears, screws and tubes all visible on the outside but the final shape distinctly animalistic: the perfect dichotomy of man and nature and a mesmerizing return to nature by man, if you will.
Altınorak emphasized that he was happy to be able to create his work using sustainable waste, simultaneously contributing to art and the Turkish economy.
"The messages that my work sends also increase my passion for art," he said.