When I walk the shoreline, I often feel as if the objects on my path have a story to tell me. The ocean is the source of life and all forms have been encoded and sculpted by its raw power. I watched this shipping bouy wash ashore and roll onto the beach with a strong wind pushing it along. From the water to the land it just kept rolling, I chased it up onto the beachfront road and picked it up. It had a strong presence about it, and had travelled far, and had strange markings on it "Made in Norway"it said. I wondered what other message it had to share?
A few years ago I had travelled with an Iranian Land artist by the name of Ahmad Nadalian. He had demonstrated an ancient art of cylinder seals carved from stone. He had modified the seals to a larger scale and made beautiful symbolic forms on them that could be repeated as the cylinder revolved. Making these prints in the sand, they made striking interactions with the tide lines.
A great icon of the ocean is the "Great Wave" by Hokosai. This wood block print made in the "Floating World movement" in Japan has endured as an incredible depiction of the raw power of nature. It has many interpretations that differ dramatically from East to Western cultures. The Floating World movement is briefly described as a time of opulent hedonism, a time that mirrors our modern age in many respects, namely materialistic capitalism. The wave comes as a looming presence of disaster, clawing at your fears, a notion that things are too good to last. I often feel this threat, an anxiousness of the masses.
The Eastern interpretation of the painting hits an opposing notion that the oarsman pictured below are not in peril, their boat is made swift and there determination to reach home after delivering fish to the local market drives them through the storm. The beauty of the wave an insightful portrayal of hydro dynamics echoing the sensitive nature of water.
Onboard the Sea Dragon from the 5gyres Institute, I witnessed first hand the extent of plastic pollution has reached in the oceans. Every sample of the 42 trawls we took across the S.Atlantic carried the traces of man's hand. There is not an island now that does not have microplastic flotsam tossing in its shoreline. The effects of our pollution often go unseen, but these brightly coloured fragments are hard to ignore. The effect of our consumption is now out there, the ocean's condition a reflection of civilization. There is only the way forward and we must ride this wave, going with the flow of nature.
Using these two inspirations I carved the wave into the plastic and created a rolling seal that moves from West to East, a symbolic gesture to move from blind panic to conscious acceptance. These are the striking results....
East to West
crest on crest
cause and effect
is it too good to last?
Riding the edge of chaos
with the momentum of the past.
The eternal break
wave on wave
carving our fate.