WILD EYE: The Harbour

Wild Eye, the art and nature programme celebrating Scarborough’s incredible wildlife and coastal environment, has launched a unique new sculpture at Scarborough Harbour. Wild Eye is a collaboration between Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Invisible Dust.

The sculpture has been created by internationally-renowned, Yorkshire based artist Paul Morrison whose work often refers to modified found imagery from botanical photography and illustrations.

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 be an important part of the fight against 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 meaning that the artwork can reflect the changing conditions of the sea and sky, as well as the viewer and perhaps also cause us to reflect upon our interdependence with nature.

While the sculpture draws inspiration from seaweed there is also a visual connection to the health of our lungs and the air we breathe. Seaweed absorbs CO2 more effectively than trees. It also improves water quality by extracting harmful substances such as excess nitrogen from the sea, which is good for the local and global environment. So the sculpture functions both as a striking work of art and also as a reminder that the health of the planet above and below the waterline is all interconnected.

Listen below to a 7 minute audio interpretation piece created by Social Broadcasts, with a mix of voices from the worlds of art, nature and marine biology, talking about the artwork and its context. You can find a pdf transcript here.

Invisible Dust · Sea Oak

About the artist: Paul Morrison exhibits his sculptures, paintings, wallpaintings and films in museums and galleries internationally and his work can be found in many public art collections, including The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Städel Museum in Frankfurt. 

In 2022 Wild Eye surveyed local residents and 95% welcomed a project linked to seaweed. Wild Eye 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 sculpture design.

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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

Scarborough Market Hall, St Helen’s Square, YO11 1EU (until 29th March 2024)

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. 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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