Assignment 5, Conclusion and review against the assessment criteria

To conclude part five I want to reflect on what I have learnt during this project and how I have embedded and personalised what I have learnt during parts 1 -4

I have found during this course that context wise I am probably more at ease with fashion or art textiles than I am with interior textiles this inevitably influenced the direction that I took during this project.

This course has helped to give me a framework to work to which has helped hugely in how I organise my work. It is clear and gives great direction. This has not always been the case in previous courses and it is a way of working that I have found very helpful and will hopefully continue into the future. I also feel that I am finally getting to grips with sketchbooks vs learning logs which seems to be an issue for most OCA students. I am working far more in my sketchbook than I have ever done before. I took my time developing an idea before rushing to start the next idea or section, this meant that the project did take slightly longer than I would have liked this also meant that I had to set myself boundaries which I would not have done prior to taking this course

I have tried hard to place a greater emphasis on my visual research and give the project a more solid visual identity in response to the trend. In previous assignments I found that I needed to conduct more extensive visual research, exploring more imagery and ranges of drawing approaches before to choosing what to develop into designs. I used drawing, collage, digital printing and image manipulation and of course more primary research such as the beach combing day where I looked and collected actual items to use as both inspiration and materials. My theme itself strongly suggested the use of unusual recycled materials so this had a very strong bearing on my approach. I continually referred to the colour palette as I worked through the project especially when it came to the development and sampling stages. This was not always easy to keep to as the materials were restricted to found and recycled ones. They were not able to be re-coloured either so sometimes I was not as successful as I would have liked in this. I took a lot more risks and used some more experimental and unusual materials for this project than I have done previously. This meant that I could not use the machine as much as I would normally which pushed my mind to think of totally different approaches.

I felt deconstruction worked so well for assignment four as it was such a strong theme which really spoke to me rather than just a concept based on the photographs I found at the start of the course. I wanted to explore this kind of more political topic again for my independent project. The issue I chose is very close to my heart but I found it quite challenging to find a way to express my feelings on the issue in a completely unique way mainly due to the issue being such a popular one for artists. I wanted to find new ways to look at it. I feel I achieved this in creating very unusual samples using materials that would not immediately be considered as textile like materials

Review against the assessment criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills: Materials, techniques, observational skills, Visual awareness, design and compositional skills. I used some very unusual materials for this project which used all my technical skills to work with and demonstrated them. I was quite difficult to design the samples to avoid them looking purely like a mass of tangled mess but actually to convey the message and feelings I was intending them to. I feel I was successful in the main with one or two samples not working a s well as I had hoped. The samples were very varied in composition, materials, and technique.

Quality of outcome: Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. I feel that I have communicated the narrative of this concept successfully and applied the knowledge that I have gained through research and knowledge of techniques to a high level and in an individual way. I have endeavored to present it in a coherent manner keeping everything in order and clearly labeled.

Demonstration of creativity: Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of personal voice. I chose this subject as it is one that I am quite passionate about and I tried really hard to look at it in a personal and individual way. I experimented and invented as much as I could with my materials and style to try to achieve this. I feel I have created some interesting and imaginative responses to the theme.

Context: Reflection, research, critical thinking. I had thought that this subject would be easy to research as it is such a well known and popular subject at the moment. It was actually quite difficult to find primary research as the main effects on the environment are taking place on the other side of the world, so I had to depend on images and information found on the internet and in documentaries more than I would have liked. I still struggle with the concept of critical thinking but have tried hard to evaluate rather than merely describe my techniques and samples.




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Assignment 5, Stage 3: Refinement

I completed a wide and interesting set of samples in the last section but some stood out to me more than others and I chose to refine these in an attempt to find a final visual response to what has been quite a difficult theme to interpret in a unique way.


I really like the textual qualities of these wrapped ‘parcels’ and wanted to develop them into an unusual item for display that would fit with my brief of creating create a set of design options and samples for a textile art piece promoting the re-cycling or re-use of plastics and raise awareness of the issue of plastic pollution in the sea. I decided to include a kind of symbol to raise awareness of the threat to wildlife and to that end chose to wrap a crab claw.


Also included in my ‘gift’ was some seaweed which acts as companion to all the floating debris, a red thread to symbolise the meandering floating threat to the environment and some pieces of plastic that I found on the beach. These included the flossing stick, such a personal item I thought would literally help to personalise the issue. I hope that whoever discarded it may think about their actions more should they ever see it.


I chose to develop this sample by adding it to a background and extending it slightly. From the previous observations on placement, I chose the viewpoint of being next to the debris almost bobbing around next to it to the sample below.


The background gives the feeling of a stormy sea and the addition of the shell and green plastic adds a smoother texture to highlight the rough tangled mess of netting and plastic bags. To add a touch of nature I included some of the dried seaweed I collected from the beach.

I also wanted to try this style of sample in a bigger format and viewed from a different angle. I am drawn to the heavy texture and when hung above the head; the threat of the items falling I also wanted to see what would happen if added some more types of packaging to the background which would have different levels of transparency. I also wanted to add some more found objects to add interest and different textures to the mix.


I am not so keen on the orange in this piece as it doesn’t fit with the palette but I liked the texture the bag added. If I were to make it again I think I would have chosen a green or even black net.


The sample does produce some very interesting effects when black lit (below) and really does give the effect that the mass is floating above you and you are looking up struggling to see through it. It would be quite claustrophobic in a large scale hanging menacingly above the head which is exactly the feeling I wanted to achieve.


I would like to see it hung as a canopy for the viewer to walk or stand beneath. It would be back lit to suggest the sunlight trying to break through. I don’t think I would like to stand beneath it for too long as I am convinced it would be an uncomfortable experience. It would certainly make you question what we are doing allowing this to continue in our seas.

Taking inspiration from the same original sample I tried to place the sample inside one of the baubles or orbs I had ordered. I love the almost marble like appearance. It takes the sample to a new level. It makes me think of a crystal ball which fits very neatly with my idea that the future is in our hands. It also works as a bubble and vessel that protects. The colours in these samples also work really well with the palette that I have chosen. I decided to re-make the background to fill one half of the orb but keep the woven part of the sample. The background needed to be formed to fit the shape exactly to create the backdrop I wanted. Below you can see the sample from different angles:

The obs have an also magical look to them especially when held up to the light, The items within them could be changed and several could be hung together containing different samples. I think I actually prefer the first sample before I refined it as with a smaller background it enhances to marble like look. The totally filled background makes it harder for the light to penetrate unless hung very carefully. I may alter this depending on what my tutor says during her feedback. They also work placed on a stand rather like the aforementioned crystal ball and as an item to be held accentuating the ‘in our hands’ idea. (Below).


Continuing with the idea of containers I tried to refine my washing up bottle idea. I diluted the water to make it lighter, more transparent and less dominant. I also removed the label so the items within could be seen more clearly. Photographing the bottle by a window revealed all the watery patterns within. It definitely look unpalatable and I would not like to be swimming in or cleaning with the water I was hoping for a slight feeling of revulsion from the audience. On showing others that’s exactly what I received which is a very good sign.

I feel that they would be best showed hanging like the orbs. They could be suspended from the ceiling or stood in groups with the string wound around them like a vine strangling the bottle (below).


To conclude my capsule collection of design ideas and samples for a textile art piece to be entered into a fictitious local art exhibition promoting the re-cycling or re-use of plastics and raise awareness of the issue of plastic pollution in the sea. I used one of the photographs that I took of the bottles contents to re-visit the floating bottle idea:


This time I printed the transparency with the newly taken photograph and stitched the bottles on the transparency. This was then laid over a melted plastic background for depth. The background works well but could possibly use some more variation in colour and the stitching on the bottles could be made stronger but when held to the light, again it takes on a life of it’s own. I feel the idea would work best developed into some kind of enclosure in which people could stand to feel immersed.


I feel that this is probably my weakest sample but with some more development it could be made to work well. I decided to leave it as is for now as it does offer a good contrast in texture and style to the other ideas in the collection and it is a very different idea for an art installation.


I feel my strongest idea is the canopy, it would be a very thought provoking piece and would have great presence hung in a gallery. It could also translate well into a community project at a beach cleaning event. The local community could add items they had found whilst beach tidying to the background cloth to document a period of time cleaning i.e. a month or a week’s worth of rubbish that has been washed up.

My final collection of ideas in order of preference:


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Part 5, Stage 1 – Ongoing contextual research

Throughout this research process I will be looking at environmentalist artists and other artists who are using the same inspiration or working in a similar technique or way to help inform my work throughout this project.

I have started a Pinterest board surrounding this theme as it is such a big subject:


Hokusai’s great wave –  Bonnie Monteleone

This picture has been used over and over to illustrate this issue in newspapers and magazines around the world. Using such a recognisable helps the audience identify with the issue clearly and was one of the first images relating to this subject that I cam across.  I am particularly interested in the way that the image appears attractive, the rubbish used is bright, colourful and shiny instantly drawing the eye. However, this is the point at which the audience begins to see and feel something quite different and the image suddenly makes us uneasy and gives us the message that all is not well and there is a big problem emerging here. This is how the great wave print would look if it were made today.


there is a great video below which shows the rest of her plastic ocean art show and the concept behind the artwork.

The washed up project – Alejandro Duran

A photographic and installation project by artist and photographer Alejandro Duran. The project’s website describes it’s method: “More than creating a surreal or fantastical landscape, these installations mirror the reality of our current environmental predicament. The resulting photo series depicts a new form of colonization by consumerism, where even undeveloped land is not safe from the far-reaching impact of our culture of disposable products. The alchemy of Washed Up lies not only in transforming a trashed landscape, but in the project’s potential to raise awareness and change our relationship to consumption and waste.”

Mar (Sea), 2013

Mar (Sea), 2013. Alejandro Duran

This photograph from the series is a very interesting way to deal with the issue of plastics in the sea. The photograph is to the cursory viewer is rather beautiful to look at, with the blue coloured rubbish almost taking on the appearance of stones or pebbles on the beach. However it’s first appearances belie the real horror of the subject as these are not pebbles on the beach but something that is choking it not part of the natural environment but an enemy of it. This idea continues throughout the installation photographs as can be seen below with toothbrushes that had been washed up being planted, almost blending with the natural plants that should be there.

Brotes (Shoots), 2014

Brotes (Shoots), 2014. Alejandro Duran

Gregg Segal

Another project, Gregg Segal’s 7 days of garbage photographs people of all ages and walks of life surrounded by a weeks worth of their own rubbish. The photographs are taken against three backgrounds or settings; water, beach and forest. The subjects were asked to collect and keep their rubbish (including recyclable items) for a week before the shoot.

In an article for the guardian online the artist said “I wanted to call attention to how much garbage we produce and do it in a very straight-forward way – I wanted to go for the jugular.’


Sayuri’s Jelly fish are textile creations that part of an experiment into displacement. In a similar yet opposite way to Duran’s photographs above, The jellyfish aquariums are placed in unexpected places invading our spaces. Almost as we are invading the sea with our rubbish’s presence:

(Above) About the urban aquarium project,

The idea of juxtaposition is an interesting one to me and could be a good way to look at the issue in a different way. For instance would we want to eat another creatures rubbish / would we want to be forced to eat or drink contaminated foods as we are forcing the wildlife to?

Andrea Butler

Andrea Butler is an embroidered textiles visual artist. Her one material project in conjunction with Access art explores the making of sea creature like objects from recycled plastics she describes the project as:

“The plastic pollution in our seas and oceans is an important environmental issue and it led to a conversation at AccessArt as to whether we could construct an object in one recyclable plastic material with nothing else added (PVA, staples, masking tape etc) so that the whole thing could be recycled in one go. Taking inspiration from the sea, I collected a selection of recyclable milk bottles and water bottles and using only the bottles, labels and the tops, made a collection of sea sculptures.”

One material: Sea Sculptures from Plastic Bottles by Andrea Butler

Caz Haigh

Caz Haigh’s message in a bottle series is another way that artists can convey the same issue, the simple diagram type images spell the issue out in a very clear visual way:

“After reading about the ingestion of plastics, I began looking at x-rays and anatomical drawings of sea creatures, which lead me to experiment with photograms – I wanted to communicate the idea that the creatures were turning into plastic, so created sea creature and bottle hybrids.”

Dr. John Dahlsen

Environmental Artist Dr. John Dahlsen works with items that he has collected from the sea to create assemblages. As the artist states in his bio on his website:

“I find it incredulous to think how many times I have bent over to pick up the many thousands of pieces of plastic debris that made up that aspect of my art, each piece jostled around for an unknown duration by sand, sun and ocean, their form altered, faded and rounded by the elements. The unabated dumping of thousands of tons of plastics has been expressed in my assemblages, installations, totems, digital prints, paintings and public artworks. I returned to the beach daily to find more pieces for my artist’s palette”

recycled environmental art wallworks 101

Detail of ‘Blue ropes’ a contemporary environmental work made from plastic objects found by the artist on Australian beaches assembled behind perspex. 165 cm. (h) x 44 cm.(w) each

recycled environmental art wallworks 99

‘Blue plastic panel’ a contemporary environmental work made from plastic objects found by the artist on Australian beaches assembled behind perspex. 1.2 m x 1 m

Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Our course notes for MMT introduced Christo & Jeanne-Claude to us as ‘ An American husband and wife team. From the early 1960’s onwards they’ve explored the wrapping of objects large and small, from bottles to cars, floors, buildings and parts of the landscape. This wrapping encourages the viewer to take a fresh look at both the objects and the materials used to wrap.’

I had found this piece very interesting when looking at their work for it’s scale but also I felt at the time that it could also be seen as a comment on Man’s wish to cover, surround and control the environment. Described on the artists’ website as: ‘Surrounded Islands was a work of art underlining the various elements and ways in which the people of Miami live, between land and water.’ When looking at it in the current context it could also work as a comment on Man’s surrounding of islands with floating plastic rubbish.

There are also quite a few environmental artists and artists using recycled materials and found objects that I covered in the post for the MMT course as research for part 2 Here:


Tan Zi Xi

Singaporean artist and illustrator, Tan Zi Xi’s installation ‘plastic ocean’ features thousands of pieces of waste plastic of all kinds hung from the ceiling, to create a hanging ‘cloud’ of plastic waste. This gives the audience a real sense of living in an ocean choked by plastic pollution. When I first started this project a similar idea came to mind. I am finding it quite difficult to come up with an alternative idea that has not already been done by professional artists already! Seeing this as such a large installation in real life would really be a immersive experience a real sea creatures’ view of their habitat being overtaken.

Lindsay Taylor


Lindsay Taylor
Plastic Soup | 96 x 72 x 17 cm | 2013

This piece by textile artist Lindsay Taylor is close in appearance to the Chris Jordan –photograph of the Albatross chick on Midway Island that used for an original source picture. Visually horrific it stirs feelings of revulsion in the viewer and portraying it in stitch I feel adds to this feeling as embroidery is generally seen as needing to be ‘pretty’.


Sources and further reading:

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Assignment 5, Stage 2 – Sampling

The brief for this part of the assignment was to develop an extensive body of samples inspired by my visual research, using appropriate materials and processes. I have been undertaking ongoing contextual research to help to inform the direction of the project and needed to demonstrate thoughtful translation of my colour palettes into materials (I have had to adjust the original palette slightly as previously discussed due to the materials that I am using).

I want to focus on very playful and experimental samples using the recycled packaging and found objects that I collected on the beach. I have also set myself a brief to create a set of design options and samples for a textile art piece to be entered into a fictitious local art exhibition promoting the re-cycling or re-use of plastics and raise awareness of the issue of plastic pollution in the sea.

To start my sampling I returned to my visual research to find the most suggestive and suitable items to develop:


This woven paper piece really does give the impression of a seething mass of debris floating it has a great feeling of movement and reminds me strongly of the photo of floating rubbish I originally used as a source (below) almost as bird’s eye view or if the colours were strengthened as a fish’s view. If the latter it may be interesting to see what would happen to a collage if light were able to shine through – would it give a similar effect to the source photograph? Could the same feeling of something threatening hanging over you be achieved?



The plastic bottles suggest items that could be trapped within them, perhaps colored water with actual debris could be contained within them which could create some interesting effects caused by light passing through them. If water bottles could the water and debris be made to look completely unpalatable to bring home the idea of fish and sea creatures being forced to survive in an environment that we would not want and would never tolerate?


I was really please with the effect of floating debris achieved in these two pieces they have some depth to them and I wonder if they could be developed further to create a submerged feeling for the audience. Could the transparency idea be developed to allow light to pass through whilst keeping the sense of depth and being surrounded?


The tangled debris itself illustrates the whole issue really well. It is fascinating yet horrifying at the same time. The photograph of the hand holding the found objects really has struck a chord with me and the idea that the issue is within our control and the future of the environment is within our hands is quite an interesting thought to try and evoke in the samples and one I hope to explore a little more.

Initial experimental samples


My first two samples are a variation on a theme. I was attempting to try to create the sense of water using the plastic packaging. The first picture is a plain background, the second has items trapped between the layers. The samples really come to life once a light source is above them (3rd and 4th pictures) giving the feeling of being underwater. I have Velux windows in the sewing room which is the ideal place to attach samples to to create back lighting and look up through things from beneath.


Following on from these samples I continued to play with the materials to create the feeling of items floating in the water before reaching shore. More layers and threads, stitch and found objects were added and layers melted through to expose other areas. strips were cut and layered and some woven to create differing textures and lines that suggest movement of water. It was very interesting how the materials reacted to the heat. Some melted together better than others and some like the netting almost disintegrated.


The three samples above are possibly my favourites from the group. The sample top left is the most convincing when held up to the light to suggest flowing water. It is smooth in texture but has lots of detail when held up to the light. Bubbles appear where bubble wrap was used as a backing and the horizontal lines almost suggest waves if thought of as above water. The sample top right is a very interesting texture, I actually prefer it viewed from the back (although the predominance of the yellow does not work as well with the colour proportion tests). The contrast in the smooth plastic and the threads and stitching makes it more visually exciting. I made the point of keeping text from packaging to really highlight the fact that the materials used are actually the offending articles themselves.



The two samples above were made by roughly weaving and stitching some of the debris I found during my beach combing day together with plastic packaging to create small, highly textured samples to replicate the tangled collections washed up onto the beach. I think they do this rather well, I used the red tie to suggest the danger that such collections could pose to wildlife.

I wanted to see how these collections would work combined with some of the background samples above so tried them in different combinations to see what effect it would have:


Placement of the two samples changes the look completely. It alters the angle of view, for example the samples 2nd from right (top) and bottom right are the same but the the placement makes them look very different. The bottom sample gives the impression of looking down on something floating in the water and the top sample looks as though you are viewing the debris at eye level from within the sea.


The small textural samples above made me think back to my MMT course and the wrapping experiments. As I have said before some of the samples I made during that course were very similar. I thought I would spend some tie revisiting this idea and created these little packages (mankind’s gift to the environment?). They again remind me of the tangled groupings on the shoreline taking on the look of seaweed. The lower right hand sample in the group of four even looks wet due to the clear plastic used. As if the sea is bound by the yarn. The small gift bag suggests a dangerous little gift and again encloses or traps the objects within it.


Message in a bottle / washed up. As mentioned before I was interested in the possibilities of creating my own floating debris in a vessel. Bottles work particularly well due to their associations with messages and the sea. It would also be good to use what is normally a single use item as a material. The sample actually looks quite gruesome close up. I certainly don’t think I would want to use it for cleaning! I feel that the water is too dark and is obscuring the items trapped within. The label also makes it difficult to see what is in the bottle. I am going to make another more refined version changing it slightly to remove these issues.

I would also like to try other vessels, I saw a window display during the week in a optometrists which had giant clear baubles hanging in the window containing glasses it was a very effective display and gave me an idea that trapping the rubbish in a kind of bubble would an be interesting development. I doubt if I could fill it with water as they come in two halves and would probably leak but dry samples could be mounted in this way. I have ordered some from ebay to trial this idea an look forward to receiving them.


My next two samples above were a development from the transparent bottles idea (below)I was particularly please with the right hand sample due to the lighter colour and bubble like stitching on the background. I had been unsure how easy t would be to embroider successfully onto the plastic. The bottles themselves get a little lost into the background however and in this way the left hand sample was a little better in that the bottle was embroidered onto a transparency. I also prefer the colouring of the left hand sample as it is closer to the palette. A combination of the two may work well, possibly with the transparency being printed as in the page below.



Throughout this part of the process I ensured that I regularly re-visited the palette to check that the samples fall within it. I have added a couple of other colours here and there as the packaging contains extra colours but the main colours remain within the palette. The main differences to the original palettes are the changes to the dark blue and turquoise discussed earlier as seen in the first two images below. The last two samples are rather heavier on the green compared with the proportion tests but these will be mounted on a background to change this.

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Assignment 5, Stage 2 – Gathering materials

As I have already stated in previous posts I am hoping to use recycled plastics and materials for this project. Using these materials will not only help to limit me in my approach and help to focus my ideas but also add variation yet continuity during the sampling process. It will make me be more inventive and playful in my sampling and stop my tendency to be too neat and controlled. I liked the looser style I achieved in the last assignment and hope to build on this using more experimental techniques and materials.

I have gathered together as many types of plastic packaging as I can as well as the items that I collected from my beach combing trip. I am also going to add in some threads and fibres and yarns to replicate fishing line and seaweed.

Using recycled plastics has many advantages but also some disadvantages such as it being more difficult to match colours to my trend. Slight adjustment will be needed particularly to the darker violet blue as I cannot find any plastic this colour. I have therefore chosen the blue above, it was also present in many of the source pictures so is as valid in conveying the trend. I have also decided to slightly change the turquoise to a slightly greener hue as I feel it fits better with the altered blue and picks up on the colour of the nets shown in the turtle picture. I do have a very wide selection of plastic colours and textures available to me as well as some threads and fibers which closely fit the original colour trend. I also want to try capturing rubbish and water using vessels such as bottles as suggested by some of my visual research. I am particularly thinking of washing up or water bottles suggesting an ironic and tragic pun to the audience, perhaps this could help cement the idea that things need to change in people’s minds?

I want to try and capture the essence of one of my original research headings in particular and focus on this area when making the samples:

Floating plastics in the ocean; Some how I want to create a real sense of rubbish floating in the sea and perhaps give the audience some sense of how it would feel to be surrounded by that environment Tangled line, seaweed and household items including the comb, straw and tooth flossing stick found during my beach combing woven or applied to replicate the tangled masses of rubbish I found washed up on the beach and to suggest how dangerous this could be to wildlife.

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Assignment 5, Stage 2 – Development of visual research

After doing the original visual response, I decided to look at my visual research and develop some of my ideas further, working towards developing the research into samples.

This collaged piece offers quite a few avenues to explore further: It could he simplified further concentrating on the texture and line. Weaving areas of the texture using found objects and materials or printed then plastic bags ir other items appliquéd or woven through to highlight the idea of plastic invading the natural landscape. Motifs taken from the piece such as shells or the starfish could be printed or appliquéd in repeating patterns in or over plastic materials. These could then perhaps be manipulated in some way to add interest or form.

I really like the texture in the enlarged sections of the collage. The contrast between the frothy net and fleece against the flat shiny plastic and the flat texture of the paper works well to give the impression of depth.

The collages idea lead to more experiments into how the image could be simplified and abstracted by using different manipulation techniques such as weaving and layering. The woven paper and plastic piece was particularly effective and showed how printing and woven collage could work well together to form a cohesive design. This is not something I had tried before and it would be very interesting to try and develop it in some way.

The idea of floating rubbish could be developed using plastic materials to build up backgrounds with printed overlays. Or the backgrounds could be printed onto transparencies with items behind or in front to add depth and give the illusion of floating.

The bottles on theses acetates were drawn with a sharpie pen but would work well stitched into the surface then layered with melted plastic behind to create a water like effect. This led me to try this idea quickly and although the trial below would work better with a bluer background it certainly gives the effect of floating debris and would be interesting developed into a sample.

The textural collections of items washed up on the shore really lend themselves to woven or assembled pieces. Careful consideration would be needed as to placement but could be very useful for evoking the messy nature of pollution.

The deformed and dead animals could lead to some printed pieces. Perhaps mono prints or lino prints on plastic backgrounds. Research into suitable paints or inks would be necessary. Perhaps they could be placed, displayed or trapped inside bottle or other shapes to make the point. They could also be pieced together to make an assemblage. These ideas led to the following developments:




This more graphic style would work particularly well to use as a repeating pattern on fabric, I can see it made up to produce re-usable bags perhaps to raise the profile of this issue and at the same time replace plastic single use bags. Although this idea does not work well for my self imposed brief for this project it is an idea I may return to in the future particular for a more commercial project.

I returned to the woven, printed and collage idea by experimenting with printed papers and found objects. These assemblages were far to delicate and 3D to go into my sketchbook to I decided to photograph them instead. The colours although close to my trend colours are a little pale but they could easily be adjusted. I wanted to create the impression of a seething mass of plastic and other debris floating on the surface of the sea rather like the original source picture and feel I achieved this. The more woven pieces could be developed by using a recognisable picture, perhaps of a sea creature as a background through which to weave. It might create a slightly more disturbing effect perhaps. One of these paper experiments reminds me quite a lot of some of the wrapping experiments and final samples that I completed as part of the MMT course last year. It struck me that although dealing with very different materials the textures and overall  form are similar. Both are highly textured and experimental in their use of unusual materials, heavily depending on found objects rather than ready made or commonly used fabrics and threads. This gives me another avenue to explore in the sampling stage.

I am finding that some adjustment of the color palette would work better. The turquoise for instance (as I thought at the colour matching stage) would be better if a little greener and the dark violet-blue is a little too oppressive and overwhelms some of the other colours. I am finding that a lighter shade is working much better so will be adjusting the proportions to suit.

I feel that I am now at a point where I am edging ever closer to sampling and trialing some of these ideas and feel that it is time to move on to the sampling stage. I am happy that I have enough visual research and developed the research on to a point where it is suggesting ideas to me that will help me fulfill my brief to create designs and samples for a textile art piece promoting the re-cycling or re-use of plastics and raising awareness of the issue of plastic pollution in the sea.

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Part 5, Stage 1 – Developing a visual response

To start my visual research and explore my concept of ‘Debris’ and the pollution of the seas, I referred to my mind map and having researched the types of plastics in my own home, excess packaging supplied by supermarkets and how the problem is manifesting itself. I looked at how other artists are representing the issue and deciding that I would like to investigate the possibility of re-using my own plastic rubbish as materials for the project.

I decided to collect and take a look at images that portray the effects the pollution is having on the environment and it’s creatures. I also planned a visit to a local beach to look at the scale of the problem closer to home. This started my first section of visual research:

Rubbish on beaches

Perhaps the most obvious to us is the debris washed up on our beaches we all tend to complain about the mess on beaches, but do any of us do anything about it?

My visit to the beach was not as rewarding as I had hoped in the context of collecting images and items of rubbish for the project. I live about one hour from the south coast so I chose Hayling Island beach to visit as it is a beach I know well and visit regularly. The beach there is very well maintained and cleaned regularly but I wondered how much rubbish was missed. I started walking along the shoreline but could not find any rubbish at all. The beach at Hayling has quite a steep shingle and pebble bank rather than sand so I moved up a couple of levels. It was higher up the beach that I started to find a few plastic objects. These mostly consisted of rope and fishing line although I did find an old comb, a tooth flossing stick and a straw, some red tape and some freshly dropped sweet wrappers. All in all I was encouraged to find the beach so clean (not very helpful in the context of this project) and I did manage to collect a few pieces and photographs to add to my research and possibly my samples. I obviously collected up all the rubbish I found to either use or dispose of properly.

Pictures taken on Hayling Island beach. Although there is not much rubbish entangled in the seaweed there is enough to cause damage to wildlife. I collected all the rubbish I found so it posed no further danger.

I also compared this little collection with the photograph by Mali Jacob I had found on the Internet. Similar items were sadly contained in each collection. I first noticed this particular photograph as holding the items in a hand literally implies to me that the solution is in our hands.

On my beach walk I collected a couple of crabs legs that were in amongst the debris on the beach. These reminded me of the effect that the pollution is having and the tragic final outcome on sea life. This inevitably led me to my next section of visual research:

The effect on sealife

When investigating this section of the project I found literally thousands of images depicting the effects of plastic pollution on sea life. They are truly horrific and really do make you feel uneasy looking at lots of them in one go. I find them tragic to look at and the innocence of the unsuspecting victims of our carelessness really does show; for instance tiny crabs using bottle tops and toothpaste lids instead of shells. Birds with their beaks obstructed by bottle tops and turtles tangled in waste fishing lines or ropes or being deformed as their shells grow around tangled objects. I chose a few of these images to illustrate the point in my sketchbook. These images really say in no uncertain terms to the audience that we need to change our behaviour. Dead animals speak loudly.

Rubbish in the oceans

As I have stated in my on going artist research post, the image below is one of the first images I came across in relation to the issue of plastics in the ocean. This picture has been used over and over to illustrate this issue in newspapers and magazines around the world. Using such a recognisable image helps the audience identify with the issue easily.

I am particularly interested in the way that the image appears attractive at first glance, the rubbish used is bright, colourful and shiny instantly drawing the eye. However, this is the point at which the audience begins to see and feel something quite different and the image suddenly makes us uneasy and gives us the message that all is not well and there is a big problem emerging here. Sadly, this is how the ‘great wave print’ would look if it were made today.


To continue my research into rubbish in the oceans which is, unless you live in the areas most affected, the least visible part of the problem. I chose images that I felt really push home this part of the issue.


This photograph by Richard T. Nowitz for Corbis shows the types and amounts of floating rubbish in the ocean. Visually it is very cluttered yet clear and crisp which really gives a sense of floating through the water with the rubbish. It also shows how sea creatures could so easily mistake the rubbish for food as some of the items look very similar to sea creatures.


This photograph by Zak Noyle was taken off the coast of Java in Indonesia and shows the country’s most famous surfer Dede Suryana surfing whilst rubbish floats and tumbles by. The artist told the Daily Mail ‘The trash suddenly showed up while we were out in the water in a large mass, including tree trunks the size of cars, lots of food wrappers and bottles as well, we even saw soccer balls floating amongst the debris…I kept on thinking I would be seeing a body of some type of animal or something float by.’

Sketchbook pages for developing a visual response

In developing a visual response, I wanted to try and convey the issue as best I could to enable me to choose which areas to take forward to the next stage of design development. As the main issue is pollution and rubbish I wanted to keep the pages textural and not too neat. I wanted to combine found objects with photographs and drawn images to create almost a scrap book of finds.

These pages centre on items found on beaches, inspired by the photograph by Mali Jacob I had found on the Internet. Similar items were sadly contained in each image and it works well to illustrate the common types of rubbish that are washed up having been carried around the oceans.

In these pages I attempted to show the horrifying effect that our rubbish is having on the animals who live in the polluted environment. I tried to convey the innocence of the unsuspecting animals; from tiny crabs using bottle tops and toothpaste lids instead of shells. Birds with their beaks obstructed by bottle tops and turtles tangled in waste fishing lines or ropes or being deformed as their shells grow around tangled objects. I ended with the inevitable outcome of death illustrated by the crab claw and dead fish. The colours in these images work well within my trend palette being but interestingly are stronger on the yellows and sepia colours with highlights of blue and green – the opposite of the colour proportions contained in the original source pictures based in the sea. This may be something I need to consider as the project progresses as where there are land based ideas I may need to look at changing the proportions to suit.

In these pages I tried to give the feeling of floating items. I was inspired by the photographs by Richard T. Nowitz and Zak Noyle. I feel I achieved a floating effect by laying out the objects randomly over the photographs to give a sense of depth and placing them to almost float off the page. The colours in theses items and images are washed out more muted versions of the colours in my palette giving the impression of having been floating in the sea for long periods of time. The image on the right hand side is of items collected on my beach walk. I arranged them as a mass of tangled debris as if you are looking up through the mass of rubbish. Trying to illustrate how they would have travelled in the water in a similar way to my source picture showing the ‘cloud’ of rubbish threateningly floating above the blue water.

I wanted to try to create the illusion of waves carrying in the rubbish to the shoreline using one of my own images taken in Cornwall last year as a background. Using small pieces of garlic net and plastic bags to create the waves along with other fibers and plastic beads to give the feeling of rubbish being washed in. This piece instantly suggests the possibility that it could be developed into woven or collaged pieces during the sampling stages.

Evaluating this part of the research

I have found this part of the project quite difficult as I do not live particularly close to the sea or the major areas that show the worst effects of this problem around the world. This meant that primary research was not easy to gather and I had to rely on photographs for my research.

I found the trip to the beach very useful but as the beach is regularly cleaned there was not as much material there as I had hoped. If I were to do this part of the study again I would visit more areas and perhaps look at inland waterways, rivers and less well cared for areas to find the source of the rubbish. If I lived nearer to the sea it would be interesting to see how the beaches are affected as the seasons change. For instance is more rubbish deposited in the winter storms or by people using the beach during the summer? Does the type of rubbish change seasonally as well?

I really like the drawings I did of the crabs legs and dead fish. I don’t enjoy drawing very much but feel it is improving albeit slightly with practice. Morbid as they are, I feel these images instil a little discomfort as you turn the page and see them. This is a feeling I would like to provoke in the project.

As mentioned above, I would have liked some more primary research but really am at a loss as to how to get any more without repeating myself. I will keep looking and can add some more pages to the sketchbook if need be. However, with the images and other research I have conducted so far and the items I have collected, I am confident that I have enough to start to develop my ideas into rough samples from which to develop.

Resources and further reading (Floating rubbish)–filled-rubbish-Shocking-picture-shows-Indonesias-famous-surfer-gliding-trash-filled-wave.html#ixzz59XYSjz6q

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