An art project that began in the polluted waterways of Manila has opened at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney.

The exhibition, Dasmanila, of around 700 flowers woven from recycled garbage by Filipino women artisans, has been installed around the main pond, next to the restaurant.

Dignitaries at today's launch included Consul J. Anthony Reyes from the Philippine Consulate General and some of Sydney's leading artists and designers.

The artwork was conceived and designed by Associate Professor Rick Bennett from the University of New South Wales' College of Fine Arts (COFA) with colleagues and students.

Executive Director of the Botanic Gardens, Dr Tim Entwisle, said it is inspiring to see such beauty created from waste.

"From a city whose waterways were once sheltered by mangroves, we have art that challenges us to take more care of our natural world," Dr Entwisle said.

"The Botanic Garden seems like the perfect place to hold this, with the harbour so close, especially as it comes from the waterways of Manila," said COFA Dean Professor Ian Howard.

Associate Professor Bennett was inspired by the Filipino women's painstaking work, while he was working at De La Salle College of Saint Benilde (University) in Manila.

The work was initially displayed in the Ayala Museum forecourt and then at a major shopping mall in the Philippines.

"The name of the capital, Manila, actually derives from 'may-nila', a translation meaning 'there are Nilads (flowers)'," said Bennett.

Two COFA textiles students, Amanda Smyth and Natika Newing-Stern, came up with the concept of using flowers in the artwork.

In addition to providing added colour and interest through the art installation in Sydney, and raising awareness of urban pollution, the Filipino women's products will be sold in the Garden Shop, helping their working lives to become more sustainable.

The exhibition forms part of The Sydney Morning Herald Autumn of the Arts program, Sydney's newest arts festival with nature as its inspiration.

Media contact: Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media, 0422 934 024.