Leaving an imprint

In a break from weaving, I have been taking my creative practice in new directions. To work with ocean plastics, ghost nets or marine debris is inescapably connected to our relationship with the environment and the increasing conversations around the Anthropocene; the epoch we are currently in, so defined by the ways in which the geology and processes on the planet are forever changed.

The imprint we are leaving on our environment is the starting point for this new body of work. This global imprint led me to physically print with the plastic objects I have collected on the UK coastline. The collection of shapes and fragments are strangely familiar but altogether alien out of context.

Anthropocene printing

Anthropocene printing

They have a resemblance to plankton and diatoms, the microscopic creatures living in water that now share their realm with ubiquitous fragments of plastic. Interestingly, in the Jurassic epoch, it was these tiny creatures that formed layers on the seabed that over time, slowly transformed into oil, the very material that plastic is created from.

I am working on a series of prints that reflect both the distribution of typical objects found on the tideline and their similarity to plankton, some might say their material forebears.

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11 comments

  1. Strangely familiar, alien and beautiful in print. Inspiring, thank you, I’ve pinned so I can come back and also remember the idea. I have a lot of beach finds including plastic and hadn’t given much thought to printing from them. It might even inspire me to get my sketchbook out again.

    1. Glad you have found my work inspiring Julie. It is my intention to create something attractive from things that have been discarded, so people appreciate the beauty before they realise exactly what they are looking at.

    1. Really glad you picked up on that underatopazsky. I am startled by the similarity between these prints from plastics and marine plankton and diatoms. Lots to explore here I think!

    1. Thank you artistatexit0! I am hoping to learn more about the geology of fossils to feed it into my work. I am interested in how plastic is made from the tiny plankton from which we all evolved, and teh frightening truth that it could easily bring about humanity’s downfall too. Gosh, I don’t mean to sound so depressing…!

      1. It comes with the subject Jo! As artists who work in this reality, the “trick” is not to turn your audience off to the topic. I like to keep my focus on appealing to the creative being within us all. I think getting interested in what stuff is actually made from is a smart way to go. That is a big reason why I center my project around a world famous fossil site. The past is certainly influencing the present and future with our overuse of fossil fuels and materials. Wait till you start telling people that plastic is organic by definition!

  2. Jo, I am showing your work to my fourth grade students in Moscow, to assist their inspiration in printmaking. Thank you !

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