In support of the Isles of Scilly Earth Summit and E-day the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) sponsored Fran Crowe, a Suffolk artist whose installations are shaped from litter collected from local beaches.
Fran’s work is provocative and tongue in cheek, luring the viewer in by its arrangement of colours only to confront them on closer inspection with the reality of the issues surrounding marine litter.
The Earth Summit was designed to bring the community together with visiting speakers who share with Scilly residents the challenge of adapting island life to the impacts of climate change. Both Saturday and Sunday, the 3rd and 4th of October began with an ‘Activity Trail’ sending people along a route linking 5 different activities, each led by a different local organisation. The AONB and Fran Crowe were based in the gallery at Phoenix Studios, this being the first of the 5 stops along the trail. The AONB unit spent the week leading up to the event working with Fran and the islands primary school students on issues relating to climate change, waste management and marine litter. The work with the school involved beach cleans across the islands to collect the material for the weekend’s exhibition and activities. What became of this collection was a cleverly disguised display, depicting an unflinching self-portrait of our society sourced from a ‘contemporary archaeological dig.’
Visitors to the gallery were encouraged to participate by adding to the ‘artworks’ in a number of ways. On a plinth in a corner stood a large jug of Scilly sea water, the label attached read ‘Sea water, Ingredients: water, salt. May also contain:’ Visitors could then add any number of foreign objects that move within the waters that surround the islands such as plastic, shoes, rope. This list grew very quickly.
There is little argument to defend our disposable lifestyles and throw away behaviour. It is the consequences of our activities that contribute to the major themes that have been the focus of this exhibition and the Earth Summit activities held over the weekend. E-day, held on Tuesday 6th October reminded us to be more conscious of our activities in relation to power consumption and contribution to carbon emissions. In addition to rising sea levels and storm surges there is even greater impact that climate change will have on the nature of our seas including human activities such as coastal developments, fisheries and recreational activities. Fran’s artwork is a clever way to bring home some truths about human behavior, the small ways in which we can make positive changes that will have long term benefits. Fran’s work also reminds sea users and maritime industries that the sea is not a dumping ground. Carbon emissions can be reduced on the sea as well as in the home, we can all help to turn the tide on climate change.