If you’re interested in why we’re showing marine litter in our latest show, take a look at and consider supporting this stunning documentary Midway by Chris Jordan and Sabine Emiliani. Midway explores how interconnected we are as a planet, and the devastating effects that plastic from The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has on albatrosses on one of the most remote islands on the planet.
We have to not only look at how we’re disposing of plastic waste, but also how we’re consuming it.
INorganic: TruCost Super-M-Art is on now until 22nd December.
On Not Using Plastic: December
From Joanna, Writer in Residence
I didn’t make the pledge to use no new plastic with some of the ONCA team, thinking that I’d rather cut down gently and slowly. And I’m still buying toothbrushes, bottles of milk, and cheese which has plastic wrapping So I haven’t done it 100%. But it’s got into my head to such an extent that I’m doing it as much as I can not just in coordination with the exhibition, but because it’s become a real gut disgust towards that light, brittle, strange material which we are producing in unimaginable quantities without any real or comprehensive idea of how to make it go away.
Is this obsession though, or sense? To shiver at the sight of a plastic coffee cup top, knowing that it will take hundreds of years to break down, and as it does so, will likely float down to the bottom of the oceans, which were once green and blue and everything, and are now floating grounds of waste? My mind now translates : ‘hello, would you like a bag?’ to ‘hello, would you like to kill an albatross?’ No! I want to shout! No! And why would you? Seriously? Why would you? I had an argument the other day with a waitress at a college cafeteria. She asked me to fill out a form about what I thought of the catering service. I accordingly did so, reporting everything as excellent apart from the fact that every single drinking vessel used every single day by thousands of students at the cafeteria is plastic. Noticing her reading my form, I went up to discuss it with her.
'Do you think it would be possible?' I asked. 'I mean, to use real glasses?'
'To avoid breakages.'
'We get thousands of students coming in all day. We don't have time for breakages.'
You don’t have time for breakages? Despite the fact that schools, colleges, and universities the world over manage to provide non-disposable glasses to their patrons without descending into terrifying scenes of glass shattering chaos? What kind of breakages were they imagining exactly? And how can these breakages be any worse than filling up the waste bins day by day with things that just don’t go away?
I didn’t know what to say to the poor lady, and so the best I could manage was to repeat hollowly: ‘that’s a shame. A real shame’ and give her a prophetic and penetrating look that might have made her suspect I was on something.
What upsets me is that this isn’t a tiny cafeteria somewhere in the back of beyond, it’s a cafeteria in the centre of an institution with an excellent reputation for sustainability. And maybe there is some complex ecological – or economic - reason I’m not getting that they do use plastic glasses. But it doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t understand it, in the same way that I don’t understand the lovely, friendly families behind me in the supermarket queue filling up new shopping bags without batting an eyelid – or academic conferences on green issues providing plastic water bottles. Wherever we are, whoever we are, it’s as if we haven’t processed that these things won’t go away. Oh sure, if they make it they can be incinerated, turning what they are into strange new shapes in the air and sky. But if they don’t then they will likely get into the oceans, eventually. As they break down, said Dr Richard Thompson, marine biologist from Plymouth, at last month’s Talk Rubbish event, they may actually become more detrimental to the environment, as the smaller pieces are more easily mistaken for plankton and swallowed. They don’t just fill the ocean up with that which doesn’t belong; in their very going, in their very dying, that thing which they do not know how to do - they become a more and more potent poison.
Shortly after reading Ivan Macfadyen’s article, I went to the street bin to put in a bag of trash. The bin was full, and as I pushed it in, it didn’t really go anywhere, staying on the top of the bin, oozing out bits of pasta and fluttering with plastic wrappers. I had the sudden nauseous thought – what if it’s true – that it doesn’t go anywhere? Imagine if everything we used and chucked stayed with us – imagine it piling up in the back garden. We think there is an elsewhere that the nice men from waste disposal will take it to. But there isn’t an elsewhere. There’s only a here. Ecological philosopher Timothy Morton said that ‘All destructive projects might be summed up in Heidegger’s axiom, “The human being is a creature of distance!” What happens when distance collapses, when we know that what happens anywhere on earth affects what happens everywhere else?’
I will finish with a better conversation. I was on my way back from this Saturday’s beautiful and moving event Once Upon a Life, as part of the Remembrance Day for Lost Species. On my way home I had promised to stop into Co op. After spending four hours marking the destruction and damage that our society has done to our fellow living beings, a supermarket was the last place I wanted to end up, but life has to go on, and I was hungry. So I went, and had no bag. I piled the items into my arms, and stopped hesitantly at the beer aisle, where I saw a particular brand of beer I knew would make my partner really happy. But my arms were full and I had images of the beer cascading across the pavement, so I moved on. I heard a voice behind me:
'Go on,' said a fellow customer who had been watching my alcoholic indecision, with a joie de vivre not usually to be found in the Co op on a Sunday night. 'You know you want to.'
'Oh – but you see -' and then, because she was happy and friendly, I didn't make the sulky assumption that she would have no interest in what I was doing, that she was a member of the alien bag- using species. 'I can't carry it.'
'I'll carry it to the till for you.'
'No, I can't carry it home. I'm trying to use less plastic bags. For the environment, you know.'
The woman looked at me, for quite a while. ‘That’s a wonderful thing,’ she said.
Our latest exhibition TruCost Super-M-Art uses all the tricks and trapping of modern supermarkets to create an eerie and thought provoking display of found plastic. All plastic was collected off of local Brighton beaches over the course of three weeks, and has been rebranded and placed in a familiar environment that will contrast with the evolved, transformed, and yet still familiar discarded plastic items. This show needs to be seen in person to believe — the items will amuse, challenge, and envelop the viewer.
On now through 22nd December at The ONCA Gallery, 14 St. George’s Place, Brighton BN1 4GB.
Eddy De Azevedo moved from Paris to Capbreton, a French seaside town, to get closer to nature. However, on daily walks with his along the beach he noticed all the trash that washed up on the shores and decided to collect all the debris he could.
Over the course of his walks he accumulated more than 600 lighters, 1000 bottle caps and 200 fisherman gloves to make his series Walking My Dog I.
via Feature Shoot
Very interesting to see another artist working in the same way that Dirty Beach is. We have a case full of lighters and shotgun shells, as well as a multitude of shoes and gloves. Stop into the gallery to check out what Dirty Beach artists Lou McCurdy and Chloe Hanks have collected from Brighton!
Remembrance for Lost Species: lest we forget. Three species are lost to eternity every hour.
Extinction is studied by scientists. Culturally, however, we risk forgetting the beauty and distinct life of extinct species and our historic relationship with past life forms.
This is a chance to learn and tell the stories of those lost in the sixth mass extinction, and to renew commitments to those remaining. Extinctions are invariably linked to the loss of cultures and places too.
In 2011 and 2012, people held species memorial events around the UK and internationally. This November 30th, hold your own extinction memorial event – or just light a candle. Let us know what you are planning and we will add it to the online map of Remembrance events.
Ladies and gentlemen, men and women, friends, humans, homo sapiens, homo heidelbergensis, neanderthalensis, finders, losers, St. Lucy giant rice rats, loves, lost loves, dears, Schomburgk’s deers, darlings, Darling Downs hopping mice, American lions, Tasmanian tigers, Bermuda night herons, Bermuda triangles, objects, possessions, lost keys, Geeze, Nagumi, Etruscan, Eyak, Basque-Icelandic pigdin, passenger pigeons, words, languages, memories, laughter, laughing owls, Ilin Island cloudrunners, short-faced bears, sharp-snouted dayfrogs, welcome to the Liturgy of Loss…
- extract from Liturgy of Loss by Nick Hunt
On Remembrance Day for Lost Species, November 30th, ONCA and Feral Theatre will gather at Brighton Pier at 1.30pm and walk up to the beautiful Whitehawk Community Food Project on Whitehawk Hill.
After a ritual of remembrance and a tree planting, we will light a fire and tell stories of extinction. All stories will be warmly welcomed.
Offerings will be documented, and this event marks the beginning of a project to collect tales of lost species which will culminate in a book.
A few images from our private on Thursday for of INorganic : TruCost’s Super-M-Art which is open now until 22nd December. All plastic was collected in three weeks from local Brighton beaches and rebranded by Dirty Beach artists Lou McCurdy and Chloe Hanks.
Plastic Free - Week One
I am sitting in the pub, nonchalantly drinking a pint of cranberry juice. I am so absorbed in staring at the other pub-goers that I don’t notice when my friend arrives. She is standing over me, staring pointedly at my drink. I look up at her.
“What?” I ask defensively. I can’t imagine how cranberry juice has offended her, as she has no way of knowing there isn’t a hefty shot of vodka in it. “What?” I ask again as she continues to stare.
She raises her eyebrows. “Straw?”
However hard you try, and this week – my first no plastic week – I have been trying pretty hard, there’s always something just around the corner to bite you on the arse. This has been happening every day. A straw. A tube of glue. Some cling film. Yesterday, I went into a delicatessen and was confronted with giant bowls of the most delicious-looking olives. Big, round, fat flesh straining against smooth Mediterranean skins. Swimming in oil. Eat me. Eat me. I want to so much, oh olive dear, its almost painful. But how? All I’m offered is a plastic tub, now I know probably destined for some whale’s stomach or an albatross’ dinner.
I circled those olives for about twenty minutes. Buy, don’t buy. Eat, don’t eat. I could have gone home admittedly, got my own bowl and returned better equipped. But by then, the need would have passed and desperation faded. I left olive-less and prouder for it, but the whole process required a serious battle of wills between my inner selves. Greedy needy selfish giant versus guilt-ridden environmental do-gooder.
When I agreed to do this, be plastic free, I didn’t really acknowledge the power of plastic. Now, I see. Peppers, tripled wrapped in the supermarket. Toothpaste. Credit cards. Medication. It is practically impossible to lead a life in modern society 100% plastic free. And that is really scary. Right now, I want to run for the hills. I look forward to seeing how this will affect me, and which self will come out stronger in the end. In the meantime, I’m going to spend my day finding a way to feed my dog. A way that does not cause unnecessary harm to animals, land or sea. I fear this may take a rather long time. Any suggestions?