Trudi Lloyd Williams: Passionate about Plastics

Environmental artist Trudi Lloyd Williams kicks off her creative collaboration with us, Spiny Seahorses and Ripping Yarns, by meeting our Young Marine Champions.

Young students from four schools - Bitterne Park School, Castle View Academy, Ryde Academy and Ryde School with Upper Chine - gathered at Castle View Academy in North Portsmouth on 9th December to celebrate their achievements in being Young Marine Champions for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s project Secrets of the Solent. As a newbie onboard with the Wildlife Trust again (in 2014 I worked with Dr Tim Ferrero and his team on the project Jellytastic) I was delighted to be given a presentation slot at the event.

Emily Stroud, Community Engagement Officer on the project, kicked off the day and then Tim spoke in depth (in more ways than one) about about being a marine biologist. His samples from the deep captivated his audience and his stories from the exploration ships gave the students a glimpse into another world. Inspiring and thought provoking; I am sure some will now consider a career in marine biology.

My slot focused on ‘passion’: what motivates me to be an environmental artist focusing on plastic marine pollution. I spoke about how water and the sea became my muse and my passion for windsurfing got me well and truly submerged! What was it that got these young students to be motivated into caring for their marine environment, the Solent? They jotted down their thoughts onto post-it notes.

My first project on plastic marine pollution was in 2008 along the banks of the River Thames, called ‘Message in a Bottle’. It focused on the then new ‘fashion accessory’: having a plastic water bottle on your person at all times. I could see then the very thing we were all striving to have - fresh, clean water - was going to impact directly on that precious resource. Today that message in a bottle hasn’t changed: a recent Guardian article about the Australian drought states “Now the government is buying water back from Coca Cola to bring here, which is where it came from in the first place!” The place being a bore hole in the grounds of a school! Looking after our water is core to the survival of planet Earth, as Sir David Attenborough has at last grabbed the world’s attention with in Blue Planet 2.

Caring for our seas, the Solent, starts at home. What we flush down our plughole will ultimately end up in the sea. What we purchase, consume and then dispose of has to be ‘dealt’ with. But, we can no longer ‘deal’ with the rate of consumption and disposal of plastic. Waste plastic has been found frozen into ice in the Arctic at the bottom of the deepest ocean gorges. Gyres, currents and wind move this plastic flotsam around the globe to places where man has never been.

As one of the students said on their post-it note, “If the Earth was a 24-hour day, man has been around for about three seconds! Look at the damage humans have done in those three seconds!” When the Plastic bag ban was brought into force within 18 months on my beach cleans it was clearly noticeable that the bags were not so prevalent. This shows that what we do does have an impact and it is quite quick. 

MCZs (Marine Conservation Zones) - designated marine areas around the British coastline - are part of the solution. In the Trust’s area we now have three and their management is going to be crucial for all our marine species, our water quality and conserving the Solent. Included in these zones are seagrass meadows; unique habitats supporting huge biodiversity. More of that in my next blog when I introduce my collaboration with the Trust, Spiny Seahorses and Ripping Yarns.

So from Castle View Academy, with views directly over the water, these Young Marine Champions could potentially be the ‘Saviours of the Solent.’ I salute you young pioneers, stay passionate about our seas - our Blue Planet needs you.

Spiny Seahorses and Ripping Yarns

Trudi is collaborating with us on an element of our marine project Secrets of the Solent. Together, we're working with local communities to collect plastic marine litter marine and transform it into an inspirational sculpture. 

Learn more about our collaboration