I have spent the last three years drawing the world’s most endangered and vulnerable whale species. I draw them life size in the sand on beaches along the north coast of West Cornwall, towards Lands End.
I make the drawings by mapping them out with a stick, my hands and my feet. I make the work at Gwithian Towans where there is a three mile stretch of flat sand. There is a dark sediment that creates ripple patterns when the water moves over it and often these are visible in the photographs of my drawings. The largest drawing I have made to date is of a Blue whale, which was 30 metres long.
We usually document the work through photography and film, climbing up the boulders and cliffs to get the best vantage point. And then wait for the tide to come and wash the drawing away… The moment where it gets washed away is very symbolic. It visually represents the fragility of a species, which could be disappearing from the ocean. The drawing is an offering to the ocean and its inhabitants, in a similar way to Sand Mandalas in Tibetan cultures.
There are 13 main species and 7 are under threat. That is over half the entire population of whales. And these species then break down into sub species. Some of these are critically endangered as well. For example, the Humpback Whale may be listed as ‘Least concern’ however the Arabian sea and Oceania sub populations, are listed as endangered. I have now drawn all 7 of the main species listed as Endangered & Vulnerable, by the IUCN Red List. Next I will draw the Near Threatened category, which includes the Beluga Whale and Narwhal. Once I have drawn these, I plan to draw all the endangered sub populations to complete the project.