Increasingly our environment and the animals that live in it are under threat.  Unfortunately our small population belies the potential problem for the clean green image that New Zealand portrays.

I love our coastlines and the beauty and respite in nature they offer.  Over the years I continue to capture photographic glimpses of this natural beauty but more frequently I see the overflow from our consumer society littering our beaches and affecting our wildlife that relies on it.

I remember 26 years ago setting out on an overseas cycling adventure with friends where we took 2 weeks out to stay on Phi Phi Island, Thailand.  Here I learnt to dive and was introduced to the magic of the undersea world.  It was also my first vision of extensive coastal pollution due to a dense population without the infrastructure to deal with it.  One only had to walk around the coast away from the tourist hot spots to see the litter banked up like sea foam along a stretch of beach.

Wanting to make with passion I have decided that this can be a starting point from which to make works.

Trash and wild life collected – Makara Beach, Wellington Images: Nadine Smith

So how to make an impact and involve people of all ages and stages.  Highlight the problem as individual and collective responsibility to stop this spiralling out of control:

  • Organise monthly beach clean ups where the public are invited from different sectors to come on a coastal walk and collect litter
  • Contact recycling centres or organisers of existing beach clean ups for support to advertise same
  • Incorporate some of the materials into small and large art works
  • Create a large scale litter spiral on a beach like Pram beach – involve the public in its formation – this would highlight individual and collective responsibility.
  • Organise photography of it and publicity
  • Use a drone for photography

Consider the work of Andy Goldsworthy who works with natural materials to create visions in nature of a temporary and ephemeral quality

Spiral of Trash – Makara Beach, Wellington
Image: Nadine Smith

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