Plastiglomerate, the fossil of the present.

Plastiglomerate is a term that was proposed by Patricia Corcoran, Charles J. Moore and Kelly Jazvac for a stone that contains mixtures of sedimentary grains, and other natural debris (e.g. shells, wood) that is held together by hardened molten plastic. .

A cutting from the National Geographic with one of the first Plastiglomerate stones found on Kamilo Point Beach, Hawaii.
My plastiglomerate samples picked up in Hawaii.
Melted bottle from Kamilo Beach, Hawaii
Melted plastic from Kamilo Beach, Hawaii.
A melted mess of plastic and rocks.
Painting from still life – interesting rocks with different materials in them.

For our exhibition pieces Louis Thompson and I developed different ideas on how to represent these strange fossils using traditional glass cane techniques used by Murano glass chandelier makers to create the pieces of discarded fishing rope.

initial sketches for the Plastiglomerate pebbles, encasing pieces of fishing rope.
Louis making glass net ropes (and yes, all that waste went into our subsequent pieces)
Plastiglomerate glass pebble tests.
glass plastiglomerate test
Hot glass block with rope set inside.
Sketchbook collage studies for glass Plastiglomerate pebbles

The final faceted glass rocks contain the representations of cut knots from discarded fishing nets and ‘plastic shards’ etched and enamelled with details taken from found ocean plastic pieces.

A glass plastiglomerate pebble

The Plastiglomerate pebbles featured in the ‘Broken Ocean’ installation at Collect Open, Spring 2019. See separate post on this full piece.

The Seven Stages of Degradation.

Seven stages of Degradation II

Sometimes, using different media to talk about current issues can create arresting outcomes. This collection of pieces is the outcome of a collaboration between myself as a creative campaigner and Glass artist, Louis Thompson. The work is part of ongoing collaboration representing the challenge of the colossal flow of plastic pollution that runs into our seas every minute of every day – currently a rubbish truckload a minute.

The process of making this first series of solid glass bottles called ‘The seven stages of degradation’ is very hands on. Each bottle was created from the inside out, using waste coloured glass shards and forming them onto molten clear glass cullet, then dipping and rolling in coloured chips and strands to represent the breakdown of plastic into smaller and smaller pieces. Colour, one of the most seductive things about glass, was chosen very carefully for each stage; very little red or yellow in the end as these would have been consumed by sea creatures by then. The glass was formed into bottle shapes thentwisted and dented to represent the distortion from the power of the oceans. There are seven disformed bottles in all, each representing the stages of photo-degeneration of plastic in the oceans. The bottles themselves get darker and darker with pollution and each have a bottle cap from my collection picked up on Kamilo beach in Hawaii.

Seven Stages of Degradation I

They have now been exhibited in many places including the London Glassblowing Gallery for Synergy II 2017, The Royal Academy Summer Show 2018, Collect Open 2019, British Glass Biennale 2019 and will be at Vessel Gallery as part of group show; New British Glass from November 4th to the 21st December 2019.

Seven Stages of Degradation at the Royal Academy Summer Show 2018 in the room curated by Cornelia Parker.
Chuffed artists at the RAA Summer Show

Louis Thompson MA RCA is an acclaimed glass artist winning numerous awards and commissions and he has been invited to create installations for various museums and international exhibitions. His work has been exhibited extensively at galleries in the UK, Europe, Japan and the USA.

Seven Stages of Degradation II as part of ‘Broken Ocean’ at Collect Open 2019
Detail showing lids and colour.
Seven Stages of Degradation III, British Glass Biennale 2019
Seven Stages of Degradation III
Seven Stages of Degradation III detail showing bottle tops found on beaches.
Seven Stages of Degradation III, Detail showing hand etched and enamelled waste glass fragments.

Not on our beaches?

I often read stories of animals being affected by plastic debris in our oceans which are really depressing. Recently there was one that now makes me refuse plastic straws whenever I can. A group of marine biologists in Costa Rica discovered an endangered sea turtle with a 10-12 cm plastic straw lodged in its nostril. Christine Figgener, a field biologist with a research interest in conservation filmed the excrutiating 8 minute-long extraction operation, which left the poor turtle bleeding and clearly wincing in pain. Warning, it is really distressing to watch: promo-sea-turtle-straw copyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wH878t78bw

An article in the telegraph references a recent study that estimated green sea turtles are 50 per cent more likely to ingest some form of plastic than they were thirty years ago. They often mistake items like plastic bags and straws for food, which can lead to blockages, infections and death.

This Easter when walking on a beautiful beach in Devon I came across this very sad sight of a dead juvenile black headed gull, strangled by a plastic top. It was so shocking that I ended up on BBC Devon News being interviewed about it and the issues around marine waste.

2015-03-31 14.10.48-1

We don’t really expect to see such sights on UK beaches, yes we hear about the terrible plight of albatrosses but not the gulls or terns. But no animal is safe from this increasing waste stream going into our seas.

 

Never Turn Your back on the Ocean

NTYBOTO_sm

I am having an exhibition and talk on the 18th November at Pentagram, Westbourne Grove. Places are limited so please do book: events@pentagram.com 

How do you communicate positively about our depressing environmental situation? Sophie Thomas, founder of Thomas.Matthews and Director of Circular Economy at the RSA is on a mission to do just that. 

In 2014, I travelled to Kamilo Point in Hawaii – also known as ‘Plastic Beach’ – to see first-hand the plastic plight of our oceans. Never Turn your Back on the Ocean is an exhibition inspired by this experience, featuring plastic sourced from Kamilo’s foot deep piles of junk.

Join of us on 18 November at 6.30pm and be the first to see the exhibition and hear me talk about my journey to Hawaii and its enduring affect on her work. 

Spaces are limit so please RSVP to events@pentagram.com to save a spot. 

With thanks to Pentagram, Do The Green Thing and Thomas.Matthews