I collected a lot of plastic sea trash, almost every day now for 7 years here in west coast Scotland…
I also collected the tiny sand-worn plastic litter I discovered in Australia, it’s the tiny stuff that never breaks down that filter feeders swallow, birds eat and chokes sea creatures to death… I brought back 7 kilos.
I washed, dried and sorted my plastic finds, obsessively filing in to labelled boxes; my friends laugh.
I always document the creative process; I think I’ve photographed every piece I’ve ever picked up.
I first experimented with design ideas for textile patterns in my studio, a different process to making my artworks. This was about juggling colours and shapes, imagining how big a spade would look on your body, let alone a plastic gherkin. I liked the oddness, that you almost don’t see it’s plastic rubbish, I love the colour, and like that it’s funny even though it’s terrible.
Finally I took 16 boxes of selected ‘sarong plastic rubbish’ 5 hours by bus from west to east coast Scotland (people laughed), to lay them out to be photographed professionally by my brother Shannon Tofts in Edinburgh.
It was back-breaking setting out my compositions. My brother is patient, generous and makes good coffee.
I packed up all my plastic finds, again, and took my boxes back by bus to my studio.
7 years of plastic collecting, artworks and documenting photographs were only a tiny part of this huge project. I worked in Amsterdam with creative partner Jan Battem on the concept, artwork, website and brand. We digitally sampled my images on textiles in Holland, UK and India to see if our idea would really work. We’re not textile designers so every step was a dare and an experiment. Each time it got exciting, we moved the goalposts. Suddenly it was summer when mum and I sewed them. I modeled and photographed us in our new BeachClean Sarongs on the only perfect sunny day on the West Coast of Scotland, dreaming of Bali. And then tracked down some surfers to give me those permission-to-believe shots on a rare sunny day in Zaandvoort, Holland, dreaming of California. I’ve edited my writing till it hurts, I’ve selected hundreds from thousands of my pictures I’ve taken. The project keeps growing. Lots of creative possibilities it’s hard to be patient. It’s been an immense year on our own belief and resources. Its a big idea from a tiny team.
I want to get me and the project out there to connect with relevant partners to expand and use Letsgotothebeach product, and my imagery for visual impact hard to ignore. We are simply 2 (driven big thinking) creatives who want to make this global disaster accessible for us laymen, to get investment to be able to do more… to do something before it’s too late.