As you read this statement, I challenge you to count the number of breaths you take as you read. Half of the oxygen you take in will have been produced in the ocean. Water covers over 70% of the planet, and its vastness has lulled our western culture into a false sense of permanence. The health of the world ocean is at a tipping point, and the sea is sending us messages that continued abuse will result in a changed planet.
As a Marine Biologist I am interested in the connection between society and the oceans. Although we live a terrestrial life, our relationship with the sea is vital to both culture and our existence. Whereby the sea goes, so do we. As an artist, I’m experimenting with Fine Art Printmaking techniques: etching, screenprinting, lithography, to explore issues and concepts relating to our watery planet. I would like my explorations to lead to conversations that result in actions planned and taken.
My images start as photographic studies of natural marine forms, and marine environments, including the local fish market, fishing harbours, and of course the shoreline and beaches. My recent residency at Queens University Marine Laboratory has yielded a rich resource of images and ideas. I am exploring different printmaking techniques in my current work. I find marine creatures to be ‘otherworldly, and I’m experimenting with expressive figuration. The processes often become part of the narrative of the work. In my current work on coral bleaching, the process of photoetching mimics the destruction of the reefs with acid. I’ve printed the plates in black, white and grey inks depicting the loss of colour as the reef dies. Research being carried out at QUB Marine Lab has inspired me to create photoetches of the microscopic marine algae being studied as possible carbon sinks and biofuel. The ingenuity of the scientists is a starting point to tackle this serious global situation. The difference can only be made if we tackle the issues as a global community. I remain hopeful that we will recognize our responsibility to conserve and protect our marine biome.