Artist's litter message

ARTIST Fran Crowe hopes her latest work will shock - and help get across an important message about the environment.While she admits some of the work is quite striking, colourful and with amazing textures and shapes, the materials were never intended to be used for art.

ARTIST Fran Crowe hopes her latest work will shock - and help get across an important message about the environment.

While she admits some of the work is quite striking, colourful and with amazing textures and shapes, the materials were never intended to be used for art.

For all the materials are rubbish - some 46,000 pieces of plastic litter weighing one-third of a tonne she picked up on Suffolk's shores.

She said: “I read a UN report that estimated that on average there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter per square mile of ocean worldwide.

“I walk the beaches all the time and I just wanted to do something about it, so I set about picking up 46,000 pieces of litter.

“It took a year, going out about three times a week and just collecting everything I found.

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“It was amazing. Some of the items had been left by visitors to the beach, or anglers, or washed up and obviously chucked overboard - but I cannot imagine how some of the items got there.

“There was everything you can imagine - countless plastic bags and packaging, plastic bottles, balloons, toys, shoes, lightbulbs, shotgun cartridges, lighters, anglers' netting and lines and hooks, and disposable cups which are not disposable at all.

“There are 3,000-plus bottle tops and every walk I found a Smarties top.”

Ms Crowe believes some of the rubbish may have come from containers lost overboard and sitting on the seabed for decades, eventually rusting and breaking open.

She said: “At one place I found lots of crisp packets from the 1970s and they were in pretty good condition so they must have come from a container.”

She has used the collection to create works of art which will be on display in an exhibition called Walking to Save Some Sea at Landguard Fort at Felixstowe from Friday March 21 until May 5.

But Ms Crowe says her aim was not to create art but to make people think about their environment.

She said: “I am really pleased with some of the work, some of it is tongue in cheek, but the real point is to get a strong message across.

“The amount of plastic which is thrown away and ends up in the sea is horrendous and it can do terrible harm to our wildlife and real damage to the environment.

“So many animals and birds have been killed by eating bits of plastic - all the bits of polystyrene I found had peck marks in it because birds thought it was food.

“Even the sand can be contaminated. You may think you are building sandcastles with what looks like pure sand but analysis has found a litre of sand can have in it 10,000 microscopic plastic fibres.”

She has raised £1,000 for the Marine Conservation Society and will be selling “talking point” souvenirs to raise more for its work.

n. Have you done something unusual for charity? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Plastic

The UN estimate that over one million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals and turtles die every year due to entanglement with or swallowing litter.

More than 170 species have been affected - a minke whale stranded on a Normandy beach was found to have 800g of plastic bags and packaging in its stomach.

Plastic takes between 450 and 1,000 years to degrade at sea.

More than 50 per cent of marine litter is plastic - with 33pc from beach visitors; 11pc from anglers; 10pc sanitary waste; and two pc shipping litter.

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