Imagine an army of angry sea creatures arising from the ocean. For centuries we have used their home as a dumping ground. Stoically they have put up with it but in the last few decades it has gotten much worse. Ever since the invention of disposable consumer plastics the ocean’s creatures have been under constant assault. Like an invasive species plastic has found its way into the under belly of a delicate eco-structure. With no way to get rid of all the plastic debris now in the ocean (it would takes centuries for it to decompose), imagine that in their fight for survival certain sea creatures began instead to use all this plastic to their advantage. What if they co-opted this new material and in a bizarre twist of evolution the two had merged together? Now imagine that these newly evolved creatures, stronger than their former selves but with an ever growing anger, have banded together hell bent on extracting revenge.
About The Project:
Using trash from local beaches, combined with natural elements from creatures inhabiting the shoreline, Kathy Abbott created her first “angry sea creature” in the winter of 2013. To highlight the problems associated with plastic in the ocean her first goal was to create at least fifty creatures and then stage a series of “invasions” at both local beaches. Later she hopes to stage and photograph “invasions” along the New England coastline using well known coastal backdrops from Maine to Rhode Island.
about the artist:
Last winter (2013-14) I got a little creative (in other words stir crazy) and started working on an idea that I’m now calling “The Angry Ocean Project”. Basically I began collecting beach trash (I have a dog so I’m out on the beach a lot – even during those miserable winter months – ugh!) from the beaches of Beverly, Manchester, & Gloucester, Massachusetts. After I had filled up my pockets & collected a bag or two of debris I would haul it all home, sort it out, and then begin creating “angry creatures”. Most of the trash I use is plastic (there are so many plastic bottles on the beach!) but each creature has a natural element as well (a shell, a claw, etc.). Each creature has been hand painted to give it a metallic look (please don’t ask me how I do it – I could tell you but then I would have to kill you – sorry). The idea is to imagine creatures that have morphed together with the trash in the ocean and have now formed an angry army that is about to invade our shores. (Think science fiction with a big dollop of environmentalism!)
My original goal was to make at least fifty creatures over the winter (pretty sure that I’ve made at least twice that by now), and come spring I would take them down to the beach and stage a large invasion of all the creatures which I would photograph. After a long, relentless winter spring finally arrived. In order to work out the logistics I decided to stage a few smaller invasions first. I knew I needed a sunny day (not many of those last spring!), no wind, no dogs, and a low tide. I learned the hard way that I also needed an outgoing tide as I had to lay down on the sand to get a good shot (yup, got my ass soaked by an incoming wave more than once!). My ultimate goal is to stage invasions up and down the New England coast. From Maine to Rhode Island I want to photograph these angry creatures invading harbors and settings that people will easily recognize.
At this point I should probably mention that I’ve never considered myself to be an artistic person. If I had any creative talent at all it was for writing, but these last few years I’ve felt less and less desire to write. I began to loath the computer and the thought of sitting down to write began to make me groan. I was experiencing a new restlessness and much to my surprise a desire to make things with my hands. Making creatures out of beach trash gave me something to do with my hands while at the same time justified all that time spent walking local beaches.
Collecting the trash, making the creatures, staging invasions, those were all easy compared to the really hard part – creating a website to let people know what I’m doing! (Yikes! I started this whole thing because I wanted to work with my hands and here I am back on the damn computer again, ah well…). The good news is that even before the website was set up my creatures began to get noticed. For the month of June (2014) the creatures were part of an installation on display in a gallery space over at the NOAA building (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in Gloucester, MA, with a different display every week (phew! that was a lot of work!).
I also entered the creatures in an art contest in Somerville, MA called “The Trash Bash“. And guess what? I won! How cool is that? The judges said it was really close between the top three contestants (there were 40 in all) and that it was the popular vote from the attendees that put me over the top. (I felt like Sally Fields – “You like me, you really like me!”) Considering I’ve never had any training in art, and that I’ve never done anything like this before, winning felt pretty damn good! (To be honest a year ago if you asked if I was an artist I would have said no, and even six months ago I would have said that I’m an artist ‘wannabe’.)
Anyway this website is still a work in progress, I still have a lot more photos to post (and my daughter thinks I should create a back story for each creature – yeah right…) but I think this should give you a taste of what I’ve been doing and where I hope to go with this little endeavor. So please take a look and let me know what you think. All feedback (even the criticisms) will be greatly appreciated. And by all means please send the link out to anyone who you think might be interested (environmentalists, art aficionados, ocean folk, trash lovers, educators, policy makers, and people who just like weird/cool stuff, etc.).