Artist calls for action to educate those who thoughtlessly leave litter

 In News

An environmental artist is calling on people to join forces to combat the plague of waste left in beauty spots.

Diane Watson’s plea follows the piles of litter left behind on beaches and in beauty spots after lockdown eased.

In an article published on the Festival of Thrift’s website Diane outlines how her daily exercise in lockdown, walking the same two mile stretch of beach with her dogs, was “noticeably cleaner, the birds were singing louder and even the air felt fresher” leading her to wonder “was nature in the absence of humans beginning to heal?”

However after the easing of lockdown in late May when the sunny weather saw visitors return Diane was dismayed to note that “within days the litter and mess had returned. Bags full of picnic and food wrappers, chip papers, bottles of beer and half-empty plastic bottles once again became the norm.”

She added: “This increase in litter was reported in the news across the country at beaches and beauty spots – it’s not just a local problem. The disrespect is shocking and it’s clear we need behavioural and system change at every level.

“The sight of all this litter is something I find both frustrating and incomprehensible. What is it that makes people leave their mess? Mostly the debris is single use plastics, and why after lockdown are we seeing such a rise in the amount of irresponsible littering?

“Has the recent pandemic created a culture of selfishness where a relaxation of the rules means anything goes and a return to old bad habits?”

Diane believes that education and information is the way forward. Her creative practice focuses on plastic debris found along beaches and coastlines producing work that raises awareness of plastic pollution of the environment. She has worked with local communities to achieve plastic free status for Hartlepool, an initiative led nationally by Surfers Against Sewage and she has delivered talks and workshops to raise awareness of the damage that single use plastics are causing the environment.

She said: “Too often, there is a general lack of awareness of the problem and a sense that it’s somebody else’s problem. Shifting understanding to a consensus view that management of waste is our own responsibility would be a huge leap forward.

“In a world of increasing misinformation, confusion and distraction, a simple message that unites the community is the most positive step I feel I can offer as a visual artist. We have come together to ‘clap for carers’ now we need to unite and bang the drum to respect the environment.”

Recently Diane secured Arts Council funding to embark on a project to make a garden out of 3500 plastic bottles – the most commonly found plastic on any beach.

The ‘Garden of the Deep’ project will then be exhibited as part of the Festival of Thrift’s revised celebration of sustainable living event, Thriftfest Upcycled, on 12 + 13 September.

“As we lead up to the Thriftfest Upcycled weekend I am going to continue to make the flowers and collect the ones that others have made and do some guerrilla planting.

“I am planning on taking the flowers on a tour of the Tees Valley and photographing them in different and unexpected locations. I am also thinking of getting on my bike with a basket or trailer and cycling round with them – or maybe I have been locked up for too long! Look out for some beautiful plastic blooms flowering near you.”

Diane’s full blog and a video and instructions about how to get involved creating flowers out of plastic waste are available at https://www.festivalofthrift.co.uk/we-clapped-for-carers-lets-come-together-and-bang-the-drum-for-the-environment/