When and why did you start collecting beach litter?
In 2010 when I got a dog and on our daily walks along the beach I started beachcombing again, picking up pebbles, shells, sea glass and feathers, but I soon also started noticing and picking up brightly coloured plastic things like smarties lids, toys and these little blue sticks which I soon identified as cotton bud sticks, I became obsessed at identifying the wide variety of plastic items.
Do you consider yourself a beachcomber or a beach cleaner?
Well both really, even if I’m beachcombing I’m still picking up rubbish to take home and create some art!
When and why did you start creating art from the beach litter?
Soon after I started noticing all the rubbish on the beach, I felt I wanted to do something about it, so I started beach cleaning, but that wasn’t enough I wanted to draw people’s attention to it, so I decided to try and organise an exhibition. I hoped local artists would take up the challenge of creating art from beach litter but only one person really showed an interest, so I also started creating things and we put on ‘Shore’ is a load of Rubbish! at the Bay Art Gallery, an eclectic exhibition of colourful art made from plastic beach litter which certainly got people talking and thinking, and I haven’t looked back since!
So, you are a self-taught artist?
Yes, I often refer to myself as an Accidental Artist, I’ve always been creative, but I didn’t really do much in the way of art at school and certainly didn’t attend art college. It’s been a steep learning curve, I’ve just taught myself every time I wanted to learn a new technique. Working with beach litter you are very much at the mercy of what you find, it’s not like deciding you want a certain colour paint, pencil, type of paper and popping to the local art store, my art store is the beach and whatever has washed up with the tide. Plastic can be quite a hard, unrelenting material to work with and I’ve learnt to be quite inventive, innovative developing my own unique methods of working.
Do you work with any other media?
Yes, I also refer to myself as an environmental artist and have created art to raise awareness of other environmental issues.
I have also worked with Ice and Concrete, I made an installation where the ice houses melting and the concrete houses were on meal poles, about global warming, melting ice caps and rising sea levels. I also enjoy experimenting with Cyanotype, Pinhole Cameras and Camera Obscura and recently have been learning about animation with a local film maker.
What Projects are you currently working on?
I’ve recently taken part in a month-long photo challenge with a daily hashtag on Instagram which I’ve personally found very useful, it’s made me think out of the box and have been lucky enough to win a couple of prizes even. I’ve opened my home studio a couple of weekends to test the water, so I’ll be doing that again over the summer.
I’ll be spending the next couple of months leading in to my Sole People Outdoor Installation on Studd Hill slope near to where I live, so I can keep an eye on them. This year it’s going to be bigger and better, I’m going to give them names and Bios’ repair or improve them all and I have about another 12 shoes to make into Sole People which will take their numbers currently to almost 80. Hopefully I’ll find even more shoes before August, so their numbers will be even higher.