WILD EYE: The Harbour

Wild Eye, the art and nature programme celebrating Scarborough’s incredible wildlife and coastal environment, is launching a unique new seaweed sculpture at Scarborough Harbour.

The sculpture – Sea Oak –  designed by internationally-renowned Yorkshire based artist Paul Morrison, was selected in consultation with a local community advisory group. 

It depicts Fucus Vesiculosus or Bladderwrack – an iconic seaweed species common to the UK coast. 

The sculpture is inspired by the positive role seaweed plays in contributing to the health of the ocean. In particular, seaweed has the potential to play an important role in tackling climate change because it grows fast, taking up carbon and oxygenating seawater. It also functions as an important habitat for marine life.

The sculpture is made from water-jet cut, polished stainless steel which reflects the changing conditions of the sea and sky, as well as the viewer, and may also cause us to reflect upon our interdependence with nature.

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.

Wild Eye is a collaboration between Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Invisible Dust.

Community events

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 Barrowcliffe. 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.

A Scarborough Sixth form participant said of their session: “I enjoyed learning a new technique and art style as well as the fact that the art we made has a deeper message.”

After Anna: Blueprint Impressions from Today’s Seas

33 Newborough, YO11 1NF (21 – 31 July 2023)

Scarborough Market Hall, St Helen’s Square, YO11 1EU (21 July – 31 August 2023)

After Anna: Blueprint Impressions from Today’s Seas is an exhibition of seaweed sun-prints or ‘cyanotypes’ made by the Scarborough community, presented in an empty shop space on Newborough and at Scarborough’s Market Hall.

The project took a photographic technique from the past to highlight a present day problem and asks the question: What do our seas look like now compared to the past and what can we do to help improve them for the future?

The prints were produced with Scarborough-based artist Jacqui Barrowcliffe, who hosted a series of free creative workshops for local community groups. Participants were shown new photographic techniques, and taught how to develop seaweed sun-prints or ‘cyanotypes’, whilst discussing the importance of seaweed for carbon capture and biodiversity. The participants explored combining seaweed and plastic litter collected from Scarborough beaches to create striking sun-print images, a selection of which were then shown as part of Barrowcliffe’s installation.

Groups that took part in the workshops included Scarborough Sixth Form, Scarborough Disability Action Group, Gallows Close Community Centre, Barrowcliff Primary School, and members of the public. 

After Anna; Blueprint Impressions from Today’s Seas was inspired by the pioneering work of Anna Atkins, an English botanist and artist. Atkins is considered the first person to have published a book illustrated with photographic images – Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843-1853) – which used the cyanotype process. Some sources say that Atkins was the first woman to create a photograph. 

This project celebrates Atkins’ work whilst reflecting on how our seas have changed in the 180 years since her book was published, with several species of seaweed now extinct and an ever increasing amount of plastic litter invading the marine ecosystem.

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