COLLECTING PLASTIC & TREASURES FROM CORNISH BEACHES TO CREATE QUIRKY ART
Proud to be Cornish with a passion for conservation and wildlife. Being brought up on the north coast of Cornwall with its golden sands, I spent my childhood summers in our grandmother's beach chalets playing with my brothers, and when I wasn't rolling down sand dunes I would be found sailing with my father on the southern Cornish coast on his boat. You may say that its been in my blood to love spending time on the beach, kayaking, sailing but my very favourite activity is combing the beaches with my hubby, daughters and our gorgeous dog, Molly.
Over the years the Cornish beaches have changed and the once clean golden sands and sea have become consumed with litter and plastics. It had become such a part of the strand line that the waste became almost UNSEEN! Every time I left a beach I would find myself walking away with not only sand between my toes but a bag (or two) of other beach goers waste - beer bottles and hazardous objects like glass, cans, wire, BBQs, rope... honestly I could go on!!
Where it all started
It wasn't until after the new year storms of 2014 that everything changed. In February, we were walking along the beautiful beach and it struck me by just how much plastic had been washed up on our shores from the storms! There were endless amounts of plastic bottles that my hubby and I felt compelled to write HELP on the sand with the bottles we had collected.
Since the infamous beach trip, I have been cleaning beaches for four years removing huge amounts of washed up plastic items and rope from our beautiful Cornish beaches. Amongst the plastic on the tide line I often find micro-plastic, lego, soldiers, lost vintage toys and smartie lids!
Our family beach cleans quickly became a 'lego and smartie lid hunt' as myself and my youngest one would get excited whenever we found one! My collection of smartie lids has reached over 300, and I was gifted a very special imperial sized one dating from between 1960 and 1970. It really sparked an interest in researching (or beach archaeology) to find out where all these items originated. You can read more about the history of the Smartie lids on my blog.
At the end of our beach cleans we would often end up with loads of interesting and charming bits of plastic, sea glass, ceramic. It soon occurred to me that these 'treasures' I was finding were "quite pretty" and were too charming to throw away so I started arranging my treasures into colours and evolved into my early colour wheels, and creating cards for my family and friends featuring faces, birds, fish using marine debris collected from my beach combing sessions. I posted one of my cards in a frame on an instagram post, and someone asked me 'to make her one' and it all started from there!
My hopes and dreams
My aim is to collect as many smartie lids and marine debris from the tide lines as I possibly can to raise awareness of the growing concern of the impact of plastics and waste in our oceans - as each bit of plastic removed from the beach is one bit less to be consumed by our precious marine life.
I hope my work will inspire you and our younger generations to take better care of our waste and our beaches! Have a read about our 2 minute beach clean campaign below.
I now make and sell my marine debris artwork for a living, this has been a dream of mine for years and I am so excited about where this path will take me! You can now shop my collections here or even contact me to request a bespoke order!
Happy beach cleaning everyone xx
SMARTIE LIDS - A BRIEF HISTORY
2 MINUTE BEACH CLEAN