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‘The threat to our seas is now’ – key message behind new art exhibition

Jewellery by Geri Atkinson of Smugglers TreasuresJewellery by Geri Atkinson of Smugglers Treasures

With a shared concern towards the impact of pollution on our oceans’ health, a group of artists will be taking part in a new exhibition at the Inspired by… gallery near Danby to reflect the emotional experience of seascapes and how left objects can be recycled into art.

Artist Bridget Wilkinson, jewellery maker Geri Atkinson, fibre artist Kittie Kipper and mixed-media artist Zoë Taylor will all be taking part in the ‘What the Tide Left Behind’ exhibition from 28 March until 4 May in an attempt to highlight the dangers of marine pollution.

From bold paintings to vibrant bowls crafted from repurposed lost fisherman nets, otherwise known as ‘ghost nets’ – the artworks are as diverse as they come, but the message remains the same.

With 20,000 tonnes of plastic being dumped in the North Sea every year and only 15% of that being washed ashore, much of the impacts of our waste goes by unseen. Studies have even shown that 98% of fulmars (grey and white seabirds related to the albatross) in the North Sea have plastics in their stomach, averaging a shocking 34 pieces per bird.

This is what artists such as Geri Atkinson of Smugglers Treasures seek to address. As a Whitby-based metalsmith, she regularly combs the shoreline hunting down pieces of glass, delicate shells and other recycled items to use in crafting her jewellery.

Geri said: “Having grown up in the coastal village of Staithes, I embraced the cold waters of the North Sea from a young age. This time spent playing in the natural elements has influenced my life in all manner of ways; from seeking mindfulness and exhilaration in the wilds, to the way in which I approach my designs and business.

“But it has also sparked a passion in me to help protect the place in which we live. Every piece of plastic removed from nature is one less piece to become entangled or swallowed by wildlife. By changing our buying habits, businesses approaching things more sustainably and educating ourselves and the next generation we can take positive steps forward for the planet.”

Another artist taking part in the exhibition is Caroline Bond of Kittie Kipper. Instead of using traditional art materials, she uses marine plastics and repurposed ghost nets to create bowls, sculptures and animals in a dual effort to help clean the shores and help prevent such items causing further ecological damage.

Sally Ann Smith, Inspired by… gallery curator, said: “The shocking impacts of plastic pollution is happening right now and it is our seas that are most vulnerable. We all have a duty to protect this vital resource and if we don’t take immediate action we will lose it.

“These artists use their creative innovation to find ways of reusing materials such as driftwood, natural pigments, clay, sea glass, recycled silver and 'ghost nets' as part of their practice.  Paintings as well by Zoë Taylor and Bridget Wilkinson portray both the beauty and experience of being by the sea, by bold, colourful depictions. In this way, all of these artists draw our attention back to the sea and our responsibilities to conserve it.”

The exhibition will be taking place between 28 March and 4 May, with the gallery open daily between 10:30am-4pm during March, then from 10am-5pm from 1 April. Entry is free.

There will also be an evening reception on Friday 27 March at 6pm which will include an introduction by Bernie McLinden, Senior Coastal Ranger and a talk on environmental art by Geri. This event is free to attend but places are limited and so booking is required via Eventbrite. There will also be a chance to meet the artists on Saturday 28 March from 2pm-4pm.

Alongside the exhibition, the North York Moors National Park will be hosting a beach art completion, beach clean, young artist workshops and rock pooling activities. For more information please go to the events page.


Media contact

Charlie Fox, Communications Officer, North York Moors National Park Authority  
01439 772700

The North York Moors National Park

The North York Moors is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, ancient woodland and historic sites. Created on 28 November 1952 it became Britain’s sixth national park. Covering an area of 554 square miles (1,436 square kilometres), the National Park has 26 miles of coastline, two national nature reserves, 840 Scheduled Monuments and over 3,000 listed buildings, attracting an estimated 8 million visitors a year.

The National Park has two visitor centres, The Moors National Park Centre, Danby and Sutton Bank National Park Centre, providing opportunities for cycling, walking, eating, picnicking, shopping, crafts and wildlife-watching. The centre in Danby also houses the Inspired by… gallery, which features regularly changing exhibitions by artists who draw their inspiration from the North York Moors.

The North York Moors National Park Authority works with a wide variety of people to care for this beautiful corner of Yorkshire, providing apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities with nearly 14% of staff being apprentices from local families.

Further information about the North York Moors National Park and other press releases are available on this website.