New ‘Wild Eye’ seaweed sculpture proposed for Scarborough HarbourPosted on 01.06.2023
Wild Eye, the art and nature programme celebrating Scarborough’s incredible wildlife and coastal environment, has announced plans for a unique new seaweed sculpture at Scarborough Harbour. Wild Eye is a collaboration between Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Invisible Dust.
The sculpture, designed by internationally-renowned Yorkshire based artist Paul Morrison, was selected in consultation with a local community advisory group. It will depict Fucus Vesiculosus or Bladderwrack – an eye-catching seaweed species common to the UK coast. The sculpture will be made from water-jet cut polished stainless steel, which is not only beautiful and able to reflect the surrounding coastal environment, but is also extremely robust – critical given the exposed nature of the site right on the edge of the sea.
The sculpture, which is currently going through the planning process, will join the existing steel Tunny Fish on the harbour wall walkway. Whilst the Tunny Fish signifies Scarborough’s historic fishing activities, the seaweed sculpture will symbolise the growing, sustainable industry of regenerative seaweed aquaculture, practised by companies such as Scarborough-based SeaGrown, a Wild Eye partner organisation.
The proposed sculpture is inspired by the positive role seaweed species and habitats play in contributing to the health of the ocean. In particular, seaweed has the potential to be an important part of the solution in the fight against climate change because it grows fast, taking up carbon and oxygenating seawater.
In 2022 Wild Eye surveyed local residents and 95% welcomed a project linked to seaweed. Wild Eye has included members of local organisations and communities in the project’s consultation, and holds regular advisory group meetings, whose participants helped to select this latest artist and seaweed sculpture design. Current participants include members of Scarborough’s Disability Action group, Scarborough Civic Society, Big Ideas by the Sea Festival, Seawatch Foundation/Scarborough Porpoise, Scarborough Sixth Form and College, CU Scarborough and Coast and Vale Community Action.
The artist, Paul Morrison said: ”I’m delighted to have been invited to create a sculpture for Scarborough harbour – such an amazing location where the artwork can reflect the changing conditions of the sea and sky and perhaps cause us to reflect upon our interdependence with nature.”
Kane Cunningham, Scarborough-based artist and Director of Big Ideas by the Sea Festival, said:
“While the sculpture draws inspiration from seaweed there is an obvious visual connection to the air we breathe and the health of our lungs. Seaweed absorbs CO2 more effectively than trees. It also improves water quality by extracting harmful nutrients such as nitrogen from the sea, which is good for the environment and good for the planet. So the sculpture functions on many levels, firstly as a beautiful work of art and secondly as a reminder to ourselves that the health of the planet above the waterline and below is all interconnected.”
Mel Bonney, CEO of CaVCA, commented:
“It’s inspiring that Scarborough will be hosting an artwork by an internationally acclaimed artist in a location that is free and accessible to all. The seaweed sculpture will be an asset for the town and the local community, increasing understanding of the nature on our doorstep and raising awareness around climate change. Connecting to art and nature also has proven benefits for mental health and wellbeing.”
The sculpture will form part of a wider art and nature trail created as part of the region’s ongoing Wild Eye project. It will connect with existing Wild Eye sites at Whitby Harbour and Scarborough Castle, which feature sculptural works by artists Juneau Projects and Ryan Gander respectively, in addition to linking with two other proposed new sites – Marine Drive and the Cinder Track in Scarborough. These sites will complete the series of exciting, thought provoking artworks that connect people to the natural world.
Also commencing this summer, as part of Wild Eye, artist Emma Smith will begin working closely with local communities around Scarborough’s Cinder Track, to co-develop a sculptural trail along the route.
The development of the seaweed sculpture has been accompanied by a series of free creative workshops for local groups, led by Scarborough-based artist Jacqui Barowcliffe. Participants have been shown new photographic techniques, and taught how to develop seaweed sunprints whilst discussing the importance of seaweed for carbon capture and biodiversity.
Jacqui Barrowcliffe said: “The workshop participants have been exploring combining seaweed and plastic litter to create some really striking sun-print images, which help raise awareness about the problem of marine pollution and how it is damaging our oceans and wildlife.”
Groups that have already taken part in the workshops include Scarborough Sixth Form, Scarborough Disability Action Group, Gallows Close Community Centre and Barrowcliff Primary School and a free public workshop on 5th June at Beeforth Hive is open to everyone, though numbers are limited – book here. A presentation of the workshop outcomes will take place in July in Scarborough ahead of the Marine Conservation Society’s national Big Seaweed Search. Details to follow on the Wild Eye website www.wildeye.org.uk.
A Scarborough Sixth form participant said of the session: “I enjoyed learning a new technique and art style as well as the fact that the art we made has a deeper message.”
Wild Eye is funded by the Towns Fund drawn from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities administered through North Yorkshire Council and, specifically assigned to the development of a nature, art and culture offer in Scarborough. The funding aims to promote year round tourism and assist with economic regeneration and post Covid recovery.
For more information about Wild Eye projects and installations, and upcoming engagement events, please visit www.wildeye.org.uk.