In October 2017 I joined an artist residency on board a traditionally rigged tall ship exploring the coast of Svalbard in the Arctic. The expedition is an annual residency program called The Arctic Circle that brings together international artists, scientists, and educators, enabling a unique interdisciplinary collaboration and exploration of the region, and to engage in central environmental issues of our time.
During the expedition I collected plastic debris washed up onto the beaches at Smeerenburg and Fram Bay, which included fishing nets, ropes, strapping band, boots, shoes, rubber gloves, bottles, and many miscellaneous plastic fragments. The outcome of this was Beach Clean (2017) installed from 24-27th November 2017 at St Pancras Parish Church Crypt, Euston as part of Cryptic 2017 – Art and Science.
I also collected daily samples of dust and other particles, which settle out of the atmosphere, on behalf of Dr Stephanie Wright and her team at King’s College London. These will be used to assess whether microplastics contaminate the air in this remote location. Using special spectroscopic methods, the team will determine whether particles are plastic and assess shapes and quantities, indicating the scale of this issue.