Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016
Fox Talbot Museum
16th July to 11th September 2016
Featuring a life size charcoal drawing of a leatherback turtle.
Research project with Bath University, working to build our relationship with nature
Fashions for the Future was an event for Oceana at Phillips auction house in Mayfair, London. New and established fashion designers created stunning new pieces inspired by marine life and ocean related issues.
I drew the notorious hammerhead shark, life size, bringing a sense of the sea to the blank gallery walls, in the center of London. Facing extinction due to over fishing and shark finning, these weird and wonderful creatures are at a crisis point. It seemed fitting to bring them to are attention at this event and it was a great honour to be involved.
© Alex Hall Photography
I am in the middle of doing art workshops in schools about dolphins and litter with Whale & Dolphin Conservation (WDC). We are visiting schools around Chippenham, giving a talk and then decorating a plywood dolphin with scrap material. Each workshop has a theme like; Ghost nets, discarded plastics, oil pollution etc and I choose materials that resemble these issues.
It has been a very rewarding experience so far already. Engaging kids in this subject is so important for the future and it is inspiring to see them get it. They understand the need to protect marine life, to recycle and reuse rubbish, so it doesn’t end up in the ocean and I am so proud of them for their concern and appreciation of wildlife.
I’ve learnt that all schools have an Eco council, which I am very excited about! And it feels really good to be part of something that is so worthwhile and does make a difference.
Oceana Junior Council Launch @ Phillips, Westminster
On March 12th 2014, Phillips Auction House was my studio for the day. I drew a 7m life size newborn blue whale mural in charcoal as the focal point for a special event raising money for Oceana. Based in New York, Oceana is the biggest ocean conservation organization in the world.
Newton Faulkner performing a set in front of my drawing
Alexandra Cousteau speaking about her grandfather
Charcoal Whales at mums new house
With all the high ceilings and a very encouraging mother, I just couldn’t resist!
North Atlantic Right Whale
My masters course taught me that art & conservation or art & science, can be combined. It was such a revelation because it meant that I could combine my two passions and create the perfect job.
Growing up at school, they were separate subjects. As I moved through education, it came to a point where I had to make a choice between art and science, which I found really hard. Throughout my time in London at art school, I dipped into subjects I found most interesting, so my work became about the natural environment and our relationship with it. Studying art allowed me to carry out research to inform my practice.
And then I moved to Cornwall and studied MA Art & Environment. It was so exciting to be around like minded people who were all drawn to the sea. Surfers, Phd students, artists, scientists, conservationists, photographers, film makers, all under one roof and on one beach. I realized, more fully from then on, through conversations and collaborations, that all subjects are intrinsically linked.
I found my new work to be very reliant on science, the tides and some artistic skill. Creating the temporary, life size whale drawings, prompted questions, thoughts and discussions about whales. The first step towards conserving them. The drawings really do seem to educate and raise awareness about different species, how big they are and most importantly for me, their population. I seem to have stumbled onto creating a form of art that is many things and has many functions. I will soon be selling the drawings as printed cards and posters to raise money for marine conservation of whales & dolphins, which is another way the work can actually contribute to a cause other than art.
I also take part in art auctions, raising money for environmental organisations, along with exhibitions about conservation.
Since the first time I went skiing 6 years ago, it has become my favorite thing to do, not to mention, an absolute privilege. It is A LOT of fun blasting down a slope in the snow but really, it’s the breathtaking views and winter weather that grabs me. I have always been pretty fearless, so skiing is a sport that suits me down to the ground, but its the humble feeling it gives me, being surrounded by mountains, that is the real reason why I love being in the alps so much.
I always want to be in a place where the natural environment is so much bigger and stronger than I am and I can just be in awe of it. It relaxes and calms my worries away and I enjoy that feeling of my complete insignificance. It is a similar feeling to when I am sat on the beach staring at the ocean or lying under the stars. It is the same reason I can’t wait to raise enough money and visit the giant Redwoods in California.
The conditions were great. It was blue skies the first two days and then it snowed on the third day and we were in the clouds skiing through powder. Every now and then a patch of cloud would clear enough and you could make out a close mountain line, reminding me where I was. Amazing.
Tom is a brilliant skier, and I like his no nonsense approach to everything. We literally skied our legs off! He just goes off and I try and pick him out from the crowd so I don’t get lost at the bottom of a run. I have been to Les Gets so many times now and I still don’t know my way around! I just look at the trees covered in snow and think about how beautiful everything is… so I never really know where I am going.
The chalet was lovely, as always. And feels so familiar now, almost like a second home, which is nice. The food was good, I love french food. Basically it was the perfect getaway.
I recently spent the day printing and packaging my prints. It has taken a while leading up to this moment and in the process, I have gained a new found respect for small businesses!
Sourcing materials takes a really long time. I wanted the best quality, that looks good, lasts long and is as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. Particularly with the Fine Art prints, I wanted them to be protected so they could be taken away without getting damaged but I wanted to do this without the use of plastic packaging. In the end I settled on 100% recycled board, butt jointed tubes for the panoramic prints. They have a wide diameter so that the print isn’t rolled too tightly and there is no need for plastic plugs! They can also be recycled again with zero waste. The prints are wrapped in acid-free tissue paper for added care to the image before they are inserted in the tube. I’ve always found that these added touches, even the small ones, go a long way.
The A3 size prints were a little trickier. I couldn’t find tubes the right length that also had a wide diameter so I have chosen to use Kraft, recycled board envelopes. They are 450gsm thick, which doesn’t bend and fits the prints shape perfectly. They are Peel & Seal with rip strip opening for ease so its all good! I did want to pull my hair out after hours searching online, but I think it has been worth the extra effort.
They are all finished with their edition number, title and my signature along the bottom edge. Hope you like them!
I was feeling very nostalgic in London this time. Everything felt over familiar but hazy as well. I went to the RA to see Daumier: Visions of Paris, which was unexpected. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did.
He uses a technique called conte-jour, which is a form of backlighting. Often in his oil paintings, the background is in sunlight and the foreground is in shadow, the overall effect being very striking to look at. He still manages to create an incredible depth of tone for the figures within the darkness and I ended up finding his work very powerful. Even the subtleties in expressions and movements of the characters he is portraying, are effortlessly conveyed and very touching.
We then crossed over the road, as I always use to do, passing a book shop I always use to visit and down a back street to the White Cube. There was an exhibition on called I’m Running out of World and downstairs the artist had sculpted sort of life size otters as if the floor was the water surface and they were sticking up out of it. One even appeared like he was floating along on his back. They were brilliant and full of humour.
I ended up being stuck in Paddington station for a couple of hours with my off peak ticket but I didn’t mind because it was an extra two hours watching the buzzing city, before heading home to our secluded cottage in Wiltshire.
I am currently designing a series of greetings cards, which will be for sale here on the website and at special events.
Order your copy (signed if requested) for just £7.50 + p&p. Go to Sand Drawings on the gallery page and order as many as you like! You will also be contributing to marine conservation research in the process!
The biggest change for us this year has been Bear. Our gorgeous chocolate Spaniel, Labrador X. Well, he actually arrived at the end of last year and it felt like I’d had a child overnight. I was, all of a sudden, responsible for another living thing and no one warns you how life altering it can be! He is of course a BIG tie, a financial strain, complete liability and probably bad timing, but we love him to bits…everyone does.
Whalefest is the biggest whale festival in the world, attracting global whale organizations & charities to come and talk about these awesome creatures! I will have a stand to showcase and sell my work. Very exciting!
We got back from Cornwall late on Sunday night after a great holiday. We went to see the seal colony at Godrevy and had dinner in our old local pub with some friends. The next morning we walked the dog in Flushing, his favourite place.
We had lunch at the Pandora Inn and sat out on the jetty. It was really calm and not too cold to sit outside, in November! Then went to Kynance Cove where I hadn’t been for at least a year.
A lovely weekend back where we use to live and a good dose of salty sea air.